Home / Collision Reporter / Online Journal / Your Preparation Is Key to an Optimal Welding Event Your Preparation Is Key to an Optimal Welding Event 08/02/2023 by I-CAR You're only scheduled for welding training and certification once every three years, so we've prepared this blog to help you make the most of your next welding event whether it's with I-CAR or one of our Industry Training Alliance™ partners. This training contributes to your success performing safe and proper welds, and your certification helps your collision repair facility qualify for participation in a number of vehicle maker and insurance networks. An I-CAR welding event is an intensive, hands-on experience lasting a half-day or longer, designed to confirm your technique and proficiency using your shop's equipment. Our seasoned welding instructors have an average of 10 years of experience and a deep passion for our three available training/certification programs: Steel GMA Welding, Steel Sectioning and Aluminum Welding. Our high-quality instructors deliver high-quality training, but a lot depends on you and how well you prepare in order to have an optimal learning experience. “Our instructors find that less than half of those registered in our welding events are well prepared,” says Brian Wasson, Manager, Program Delivery for I-CAR. “Being well prepared helps you make the most of training. If you spend time before training to review your shop's equipment and to critique your skills, you'll ask more specific questions. This helps the instructor hone in the areas you can improve.” “Shop management may neglect to tell technicians scheduled for welding training what prerequisites and preparation steps they need to complete,” says Wasson. “Technicians will not only prepare if informed ahead of time but also will go beyond these instructions, such as study equipment manuals, practice welding and identify potential issues, to ultimately get the most out of their training.” BASIC PREPARATION Let's look first at the minimum preparation required for everyone who's registered for either first-time certification or recertification. COURSE PREREQUISITES Preparation for a first-time registrant in I-CAR welding events includes an online, introductory or theory prerequisite course. Prerequisite training does not need to be repeated for on-time recertifications that are completed within three-years of prior certification. Find prerequisite training here. PRACTICE WELDS/DESTRUCTIVE TESTING Welding coupons will be made available during your live training event with instructions for different types of practice welds you must complete. If practice welds do not survive visual and/or destructive testing, the instructor provides recommendations for correction; however the time spent here is not unlimited. On average the technician will be provided 30 minutes of training per weld. PERSONAL PROTECTION EQUIPMENT (PPE) REQUIREMENTS Confirm that you have every piece of required PPE gear. It should be at your disposal every workday; without it, your training and certification cannot proceed on your event date. Find PPE requirements here. “Also check the condition of your personal protection equipment,” says Wasson. “For example, is there spatter or smoke film on the visor of your helmet that impairs your vision? Don't wait until the event day to check if your visor needs cleaning or replacement.” EQUIPMENT REQUIREMENTS/CHECK WELDER SET-UP No matter how familiar you are with your shop's welder, review all settings before the training event. Be prepared to explain to your instructor what settings should be selected for the types of welds covered in your training and certification. On the day of event, it is your responsibility to tune the welder, even if the instructor tested one of your co-workers just before you on the same equipment. Also check all welding components are clean and common consumables (i.e. contact tips) are on hand. This is especially critical for aluminum welds. “Unfortunately, some welding events can't start on time or even have to be rescheduled when our instructor discovers some of the required equipment is missing or nonfunctional,” says Wasson. PREPARATION FOR AN OPTIMAL EXPERIENCE Taking the following additional preparation steps can take your training to the next level and provide a phenomenal learning experience. GOOD VISION Welding is close-up work. If it's been more than a year since your last vision exam, it's a good idea to have an eye exam before your welding event. If needed, add a magnifier to your helmet. “A common reason for certification failures is due to technicians' vision problems, in that they cannot see while welding,” points out Wasson. DESTRUCTIVE TESTING Your practice welds are reviewed by our instructors on how well they hold up under destructive testing. A weak weld joint breaks apart with little or no tearing, while a proper weld joint tears apart when destroyed. Technicians, especially those new to welding, will find it helpful to practice welds and perform testing before their scheduled training. This demo will help you understand the importance of destructive testing. QUALITY OF PPE You've made sure you have all required PPE, but do you know how to judge its quality? Be very familiar with all the equipment options to keep you safe and your vision protected. When evaluating an auto body shop helmet, for example, check for a comfortable fit and an EN379 optical clarity rating, with “1” being the best and “3” being the lowest clarity. Your instructor is an information resource and can review your PPE with you. Ask for advice about additional protective equipment, including: Respirators Welding screens to shield co-workers Jackets and gloves COACHING As you work on prerequisite training and practice welds, jot down questions as they occur to you. Keep track of any issues you have while using the shop's welder, about your PPE, etc. On the day of your event, you'll be able to refer to your list of questions and not have to rely on your memory to get all the answers you need from your instructor. While you can ask your instructor for advice during your training, you must perform welds without any assistance during certification testing. “By preparing for your welding event, you'll be more aware of how to best interact with the instructor and maximize the value of the coaching you'll receive. Our welding instructors are a knowledge resource, and even after your welding event, you can reach out to them with your welding questions,” says Wasson. “We look forward to working with you at your next welding event.” Learn more in our Welding Issue of Collision Reporter™ magazine.