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Up Topic Welding Industry / General Welding Discussion / Soldamatic Vs. Lincoln vrtex 360
- - By KentBrunswick Date 04-29-2016 15:00
I’m looking for some advice – I have to choose between two models of welding simulator – the Soldamatic augmented reality system and the Lincoln vrtex 360.  My instructors tell me there really isn’t a comparison, that I should go with the Lincoln 360 (price is not a factor in my decision).  My instructors have tried both units and say that for our purpose – a training resource for experienced welders, not novices or beginners, the Lincoln 360 is the best choice.  They’ll be the ones using these units (or not using, if they aren’t convinced they’ll be of value) so I want to take their advice.  I just have to justify why I choose one over the other… the feedback from my instructors is all related to tactile feed and the overall feedback from the 360 vs the Soldamatic… I’m going to need a little more.  Anyone out there have real world practical hands on experience with either of these two units that could provide me head to head comparison on how these two units measure up head to head?
Parent - - By TimGary (****) Date 04-29-2016 15:47
Especially considering that you're looking for a training system for experienced welders, my opinion is that neither of the systems you mentioned are worth their over inflated cost.
I recommend that you look at Lincoln's "Real Weld" or Miller's "Live Arc" training systems.
While both systems are similar, once you consider product support and adaptability, I recommend the Miller over the Lincoln.
Even for beginners, any training system that uses actual welding rather than augmented reality is much more beneficial.

Tim
Parent - By KentBrunswick Date 04-29-2016 16:30
I appreciate the feedback, I agree with your comments on live welding, but sometimes institutional funding is only available for certain things – in this case innovative tech.  These will be used as a training resource, so we won’t be training welders on these day to day… when I say experienced welders, I should clarify, welders that probably already have a tech degree or diploma from a college welding program, so folks either taking some training as part of their apprenticeship or union folks practicing for certs or doing a re-cert test onsite.  If I were outfitting a classroom for 16 students and cost were an issue, I’d probably go with the Soldamatic units, cheaper, networkable, instructor can update and track using the server – I think as an education platform for new “last week I was making subs” welders this is an attractive unit.  My instructors tell me, that after using both units, the Lincoln better meets our needs in this specific case – what I’m looking for are more specific examples from those who have used both units… when I say price is not a factor, the funds we have would cover the purchase of the prerequisite number of either units, if one is cheaper than the other, I don’t get to keep the savings :(

The specs sheets on both are similar – other than one weighing 50 lbs and the other 400 lbs.
Parent - - By pipewelder_1999 (****) Date 05-03-2016 09:42
I have only used the VRtex360 and Soldamatic device during demos. I have used each of them 2 times.

I am by no means an expert on the topic but am somewhat interested.

Here are a couple of Lihnkedin posts that may be of help. This one is kinda long winded (I just get that way sometimes) https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/learning-weld-without-welding-gerald-austin

Another is from a friend who has multiple soldamatic units in his class. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/training-welders-you-can-keep-heat-anthony-hardin

Lincoln also has a new lower cost and smaller unit called the vrtx mobile.

You mentioned price not being a factor. Consider that you can get 3 for the price of one. That seems like an important factor but I guess everyone has their own things that are important.

My most recent use of the Vrtex360 was after I wrote the post above. One major issue I had with a $50k piece of equipment was  the fact that there was no diopter adjustment in the hood for near vision. I scored in the 40's using the hood. 89 without by just looking at the gun with the hood off while welding with no visual representation of the weld.

Note that the price on the vrtex has stayed very much the same since introduction to now. So either there hasn't been enough volume yet to pay for the "development" or something else.

I also have a realweld trainer. Though it has been useful in a couple of cases, I cannot see how it would ever pay for itself.

Though it doesn't have t he same "wow" factor. A washer on a table with a tig rig can be a pretty good muscle memory builder and thats really what its all about. The visual feedback in my opinion is only a small factor since it poorly matches the real thing.

I am working on an idea that can be attached to an electrode holder of any type and measure euler angles and retract a fake electrode at the same time. Its one step above the washer method but will use less than $200 worth of hardware.

I would suggest contacting both companies and asking for customer contact info where you could call and talk to some of their users about what they think. It seems welding instructors may be a quiet bunch when asked specific questions online about what they do.

Have a great day

Gerald Austin
Greeneville Tn
Parent - By KentBrunswick Date 05-03-2016 13:51
Thanks for the feedback and the links - I'd actually read those early on in my search and they were a great resource.
- - By Northweldor (***) Date 05-02-2016 16:53
It seems that the Lincoln system lacks real welding capability, but does include SMAW simulation, while the Miller has real welding capability, but does only GMAW-p, -s, and FCAW, and neither include GTAW simulation. Is this correct? If so, it seems that both systems are still works-in-progress, with Miller having the advantage in being a real welder. Has anyone found reviews by skilled weldors, other than brief encounters at FabTech?
Parent - - By KentBrunswick Date 05-02-2016 18:12
Yes. the Lincoln can do SMAW, GMAW and FCAW, but no GTAW - I was comparing it to another non-welding simulator, the Soldamatic, it can do the three just mentioned and GTAW... they use different tech the Soldamatic requires physical coupons whereas the Lincoln has coupons, but they aren't required because the entire process is virtual.

Nothing is ever going to replace real welding practice, but I put it to my instructor this way - which one sucks the least.  There is a great deal of value in these as a recruitment tool and as a training resource, not a replacement for actual welding but as a resource.  In meeting with my local union reps, they are already interested in buying time on the units for training their members.
Parent - - By Northweldor (***) Date 05-02-2016 20:50
Here's the only real review I found so far, on the Lincoln.
"Lincoln electric's version
by pete
(Cleveland Ohio)

I had a chance to operate one of these contraptions at a state level welding competition for high school students in which I was a judge. It was sponsored by lincoln and the reps brought out one of thier new virtual reality welders to show off at the booth.

What a marvel of technology but what a false reality at the same time. It was different in the fact that you had plastic weld coupons ( fillets, grooves and pipe) and you could choose between Solid wire mig, gas shield flux core and stick welding with 5p or low hi. The one realistic thing was the stinger would actually mimic burning and retract the rod as you welded. Other than that it was nothing like the real thing. It was very difficult and cumbersome. Couldnt make a weld that scored higher than 80% in a flat fillet haha. Then I tried 6" pipe in 6g with a 5p root and what a joke.

According to the machine I burned holes all through the the damn thing. Looked like swiss cheese. In real life I do this for a living! No fire raining down, no sticking rods. I do not know how they can market that as a training tool but people were sure interested in buying them. I do believe they are selling at 40-50 thousand bucks. Yes thats for real... And schools have been ordering them up. Just goes to show how much money schools have been hoarding and ripping people off that they can afford multiple machines at this price. Buts thats a different topic for another day.

It might be usefull as far as introducing someone to welding who has never seen one before. But to train someone to weld on one of these is like playing a war game on Xbox and sending them into a war zone in Iraq with a gun. Not gonna work to well.

Happy Welding
Pete
Boilermakers 744"

Unfortunately, Pete isn't aware that that funds are often ONLY available for "innovations" which cut labor and material costs, are greener, etc.
Parent - - By Andrew Luby Date 05-06-2016 16:52
My school bought 6 of the Vrtex units 5 of the big guys and 1 mobile unit for recruiting. A grant paid for them and we are required to use them in a specific program of ours.

I will say that welding simulators are in no way a fix all, you can not take a person from the simulator and let them hit the shop floor and expect success. The Vrtex also have a place in a classroom setting to show some examples before hitting the weld booths.

I like the Vrtex because it makes the transition into the shop much easier for students especially if they are students that have never been in a shop or seen a welder before. That's the program we teach where these are required for a short amount of time before going into the shop. It's aimed at the unemployed that currently don't have an employable skill, so these student's rarely have seen or used a welder.

There is a lot of blow back because people say these machines don't score properly and so they get a bad rap. If the machine is set properly it will evaluate technique well. Even seasoned welders don't do everything right. These machine's are looking for "ideal" techniques from the welder but as I'm sure we all know the real world doesn't work with "ideal" conditions.

All in all I find these to be a useful tool in the classroom. No not everything is perfect, but the Vrtex does a real good job. We have a bunch of software updates that allow us to do different things and set tight parameters on welder variables. I think where seasoned guys get upset is the helmet and viewing goggles, those need some work.
Parent - - By Northweldor (***) Date 05-06-2016 17:58 Edited 05-06-2016 18:00
So, When you say it makes the transition easier, are you also saying that their welding performance/progress is improved? Eg: Have you run tests of those who have had VR training VS those who haven't, etc.? The reason I'm asking is that the critical  cost-benefit evaluation is often not done, because it might or would show that those who made the purchase decision, or funded it, were lacking in judgement.
Parent - - By Lawrence (*****) Date 05-06-2016 18:19
This guy spent upwards of a quarter million dollars on VR units...

There is clearly a learning benefit.

It is impossible to rationally justify a cost to outcome benefit.

It's a grant scam (no insult to those who recieve the pennies from heaven). I would take the money too.

Wii video game tech at 50K a crack per unit !

Ask any sane department chair if they had the choice; $250,000 for steel and tools/equipment or spend it on a 6 Vertex units...... The stupid Grant system forces people to spend huge amounts foolishly.

The Grants stipulate use for "high tech" or "advanced manufacturing".  If you view it with honesty, Vertex and their Ilk don't do that, but rather enhance only the lowest entry level learning..   Making the justification to the taxpayers a lie!0
Parent - - By Andrew Luby Date 05-09-2016 16:44
When I say transition, I'm talking mainly about terminology. We can cover a lot of "shop lingo" while practicing with these units with out anyone getting hurt. They also give student's a limited look into what to expect in the shop.

As far as skill.. There are some studies out there where 2 groups of welding students were used 1 with 80 hours of shop training and 1 with 40 hours VR and 40 hours of shop training. The results in my eyes don't justify the cost, there was a slight reduction in certification time by the VR group. The study adds in the cost of consumables, electricity, and materials also.

For our students, the biggest benefit is easing the transition from never seeing this equipment or hearing common terms to being thrown in the fire.

Lawrence,
I'm in Wisconsin :) enough said..
The grants wanted us to "do something different" so this is what they came up with. Could of used that somewhere else. :wink:
Parent - - By Lawrence (*****) Date 05-09-2016 19:43
Andrew...

Give Scott Walker a big fat kiss for me  :)

I ran the welding department at Blackhawk Tech from 03-2013  so yes... I "felt" your pain...

Now I'm where it never snows  :)

Which campus are you at ?
Parent - - By Andrew Luby Date 05-10-2016 11:57
I know JJ well

I'm at Moraine Park
Parent - By Lawrence (*****) Date 05-10-2016 12:18
JJ is a great guy!

I miss the North Woods in the summertime

I do not miss splitting wood
Parent - - By Northweldor (***) Date 05-10-2016 12:56
Andrew:

I've read the studies (Stone,et al) usually cited by Lincoln, but I don't find them very convincing, in that they did not add into the cost analysis the additional cost of the Lincoln VR units and the number of years before that cost would be amortized by supposed material savings, and reduced instruction time (as Lawrence implies, before pay-back is completed, the technology would be obsolete, and new large expenditures required). However, your evaluation does provide some hope for future development in basic training with cheaper more flexible units,
Parent - By Andrew Luby Date 05-10-2016 14:47
Lawrence,
JJ is the one who got me into teaching. I can't thank him enough for it.

North,
Doing an effective ROI on these machines is very difficult, all examples I have seen are based on assumptions and not on true hard facts or numbers. After using the Vrtex for a few years now I do see some changes that could be made that would make them a bit more user friendly.
Up Topic Welding Industry / General Welding Discussion / Soldamatic Vs. Lincoln vrtex 360

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