US Patent for Modular and reconfigurable chassis for simulated welding training Patent (Patent # 11,557,223 issued January 17, 2023) (2024)

RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application is being filed as a non-provisional patent application claiming priority under 35 U.S.C. § 119(e) from, and any other benefit of, U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 62/659,729 filed on Apr. 19, 2018, the entire disclosure of which is herein incorporated by reference.

FIELD

The present invention pertains to systems for training welders using a simulated welding environment, and more particularly to system chassis that are modular and reconfigurable to allow for reduced inventory item counts and fewer part numbers to maintain in an inventory system, thus reducing production cost and long lead times due to parts shortages.

BACKGROUND

Until recently, welding was taught in a real-world setting, that is to say that welding was taught by using a real-world welding gun and pieces of metal that were positioned to form a weld joint that was the type of which the welding student was intended to learn. Instructors would often guide the student during the process of making the weld. This process required safety equipment, a suitable work environment, and consumed materials such as welding rod/wire, workpieces, and the electrical power consumed by the welding machine. Additionally, because of the arc and other dangers involved in real-world welds, instructors and other students were susceptible to injury from welding flash, sparks, and burns from hot workpieces.

Students learned by instruction and repetition, requiring potentially large numbers of workpieces and consumed materials. In more recent times, systems (simulators) have been employed that simulate a weld joint. These systems incorporate motion and position sensors that receive the position and motion of a mock welding tool (gun) and a simulated electrode carried by that tool. Example systems might incorporate the use of virtual reality (VR), which simulates a student's manipulation of a mock electrode and mock workpieces in a virtual setting. These systems track position and orientation of the mock electrode and mock workpieces. The use of this type of system enables the student to learn how to manipulate the welding tool (developing muscle memory).

In addition to VR, simulators can use other simulation techniques, such as augmented reality (AR). AR differs from VR in that AR generally provides the user with a view of a real-world workpiece with which a user is interacting. For example, an image may be captured by a camera and displayed in real-time to the user. Additional information is then added to this image. For example, in a simulated welding environment, a user may view two real-world workpieces and a simulated weld that appears as the user moves a mock electrode along a weld path, connecting the workpieces. Alternately, a user may view the real-world workpieces through a transparent display device that projects the additional information into the user's field of view.

Because this type of instruction is provided in many different types of locations and may be provided to students with varying needs, welding simulators should be flexible in both capabilities and physical structure. Known welding simulators generally provide different configurations that must be customized during the manufacturing process and typically require selecting a specific chassis based on the different configurations. In order to reduce inventory, manufacturing process complexity, and lead time, a modular and reconfigurable chassis is desirable.

Simulated welding training and welding simulators are known, such as described in: U.S. Pat. No. 8,747,116, filed on Jul. 10, 2009, issued on Jun. 10, 2015, and entitled System And Method Providing Arc Welding Training In A Real-Time Simulated Virtual Reality Environment Using Real-Time Weld Puddle Feedback; U.S. Pat. No. 9,483,959, filed on Jul. 17, 2009, issued on Nov. 1, 2016, and entitled Welding Simulator; and U.S. Pat. No. 9,011,154, filed on Feb. 2, 2012, issued on Apr. 21, 2015, and entitled Virtual Welding System; each of which is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.

SUMMARY

In an exemplary embodiment, a welding simulator comprises a chassis having a predefined form factor (i.e., size and shape), the chassis being operable to interface with a plurality of external components including at least one mock welding tool and a helmet-mounted display. The welding simulator is configured into one of a first configuration, a second configuration, and a third configuration prior to use. The first configuration corresponds to the chassis including a first component, a second component, and a third component. The second configuration corresponds to the chassis including the first component, the second component, but not the third component. The third configuration corresponds to the chassis including the first component, but not the second or third components. The chassis of the first configuration, the chassis of the second configuration and the chassis of the third configuration are identical (i.e., have the same form factor).

At least one of the first configuration, the second configuration, and the third configuration is a mobile configuration.

At least one of the first configuration, the second configuration, and the third configuration is a single user configuration.

At least one of the first configuration, the second configuration, and the third configuration is a multi-user configuration.

In some exemplary embodiments, the welding simulator has a dual user configuration which supports two users simultaneously performing welding training in separate simulated environments.

In some exemplary embodiments, the welding simulator has a single user configuration which is limited to one user at a time performing welding training in a simulated environment.

In some exemplary embodiments, the welding simulator is configured such that the first component is an interface to a mock welding tool.

In some exemplary embodiments, the first configuration includes a first functionality not available in the second configuration.

In an exemplary embodiment, a welding simulator comprises a chassis having a predefined form factor (i.e., size and shape) the chassis being operable to interface with a plurality of external components including at least one mock welding tool and a helmet-mounted display. The chassis further comprises means for processing machine readable instructions to perform certain functions. The welding simulator is configured into one of a first configuration, a second configuration, and a third configuration prior to use. The first configuration corresponds to the chassis including a first component, a second component, and a third component. The second configuration corresponds to the chassis including the first component, the second component, a fourth component, but not the third component. The third configuration corresponds to the chassis including the first component, a fourth component, a fifth component, and not the second or third components. The chassis of the first configuration, the chassis of the second configuration and the chassis of the third configuration are identical (i.e., have the same form factor).

In some exemplary embodiments, the welding simulator is configured with at least one of the components being an interface to an external mock welding tool.

In some exemplary embodiments, the interface is adapted to receive an electronic signal from the mock welding tool wherein the welding simulator further comprises means for processing the electronic signal and generating a graphic representation of a welding tool corresponding to the mock welding tool.

In some exemplary embodiments, first configuration includes a first functionality not available in the second configuration.

In an exemplary embodiment, a welding simulator comprises a chassis operable to interface with a plurality of external components including at least one mock welding tool and a helmet-mounted display. The welding simulator is configured into one of a first configuration, a second configuration, and a third configuration prior to use. The first configuration corresponds to the chassis including a first component, a second component, and a third component. The second configuration corresponds to the chassis including a forth component, a fifth component, a sixth component and not the first, second, or third component. The third configuration corresponds to the chassis including the seventh component, an eighth component, a ninth component, and not the first, second, third, fourth, fifth or sixth components. The chassis of the first configuration, the chassis of the second configuration, and the chassis of the third configuration are identical (i.e., have the same size and shape).

In some exemplary embodiments, the welding simulator is configured such that at least one of the components is an interface to an external mock welding tool.

In some exemplary embodiments, the first configuration includes a first functionality not available in the second configuration.

In an exemplary embodiment, a method of producing a welding simulator comprises providing a chassis having a predefined form factor (i.e., size and shape), wherein the chassis has an interior cavity for housing a plurality of components and logic for executing machine readable instructions. In a first configuration of the chassis, the chassis houses a plurality of first components, and the logic executes first machine readable instructions to provide a first functionality. In a second configuration of the chassis, the chassis houses a plurality of second components, and the logic executes second machine readable instructions to provide a second functionality, but not the first functionality. In a third configuration of the chassis, the chassis houses a plurality of third components, and the logic executes third machine readable instructions to provide a third functionality, but not the first functionality or the second functionality. The method comprises selecting a chassis configuration from the first configuration, the second configuration, or the third configuration; installing in the chassis, one tool connection, if the first configuration is selected; installing in the chassis, one tool connection, if the second configuration is selected; and installing in the chassis, two tool connections, if the third configuration is selected.

In some exemplary embodiments, the method comprises installing a first digital input/output motor module, a first AC input module, and a first DC power module, if the first configuration is selected. In some exemplary embodiments, the method comprises, installing the first digital input/output motor module, the first AC input module, and the first DC power module, if the second configuration is selected. In some exemplary embodiments, the method comprises installing the first digital input/output motor module, a second digital input/output motor module, the first AC input module, a second AC input module, the first DC power module, and a second DC power module, if the third configuration is selected.

In some exemplary embodiments, the tool connection comprises a helmet display connection and a foot switch connection.

In some exemplary embodiments, the tool connection is adapted to receive an electronic signal from a mock welding tool connected to the tool connection, wherein the logic processes the electronic signal and generates a graphic representation of a welding tool corresponding to the mock welding tool.

The method further comprises providing a support having a predefined form factor when the second configuration is selected where the support comprises a second interior cavity and is adapted to attach to a bottom surface of the first chassis and installing support having a predefined form factor when the third configuration is selected, where the support comprises a second interior cavity and is adapted to attach to a bottom surface of the chassis.

In some exemplary embodiments, the method further comprises installing a first set of machine readable instructions that present a single user interface when executed by the logic, if the first configuration is selected; installing a second set of machine readable instruction that presents a single user interface when executed by the logic, if the second configuration is selected; and installing a third set of machine readable instructions that presents a dual user interface when executed by the logic, if the third configuration is selected.

An exemplary embodiment pertains to a reconfigurable mock welding tool that comprises a handle, a plurality of simulated attachable heads, a cable, and electrical connections to enable configuration signals and power to flow between the cable and components of the mock welding tool.

An exemplary embodiment pertains to a mock TIG filler metal device that comprises a filler metal, a sensor affixed to a first end of the filler metal, a sleeve configured to receive a second end of the filler metal and allow the filler metal to be positioned such that only a portion of the filler metal extends beyond the sleeve.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other features of the general inventive concepts will become better understood with regard to the following description and accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a diagram of a simulated welding system configured to support a single user according to an exemplary embodiment;

FIG. 2 is a diagram of a chassis and an assortment of mock welding tools connectable to the chassis according to an exemplary embodiment;

FIG. 3 is an exploded view diagram of a configurable mock welding tool according to an exemplary embodiment;

FIG. 4 is a diagram illustrating mock TIG filler wire and a cut-away view of a TIG torch according to an exemplary embodiment;

FIG. 5 is an illustration of a chassis bay of a configurable chassis used in a simulated welding system according to an exemplary embodiment;

FIG. 6 is a chart of components used in the single user simulated welding system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 7 is a diagram of a simulated welding system configured to support two users concurrently according to an exemplary embodiment;

FIG. 8 is a chart of components used in the dual user simulated welding system of FIG. 7;

FIG. 9 is a diagram of a mobile transport or benchtop simulated welding system configured to support a single according to an exemplary embodiment; and

FIG. 10 is a chart of components used in the mobile transport or benchtop simulated welding system of FIG. 9.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

An exemplary embodiment comprises a simulated welding system which comprises a processor-based subsystem, a spatial tracker operatively connected to the processor-based subsystem, at least one mock welding tool capable of being spatially tracked by the spatial tracker, and at least one display device operatively connected to the programmable processor-based subsystem. The simulated welding system is capable of simulating, in a virtual reality space, operations associated with a real-world welding system. In an exemplary embodiment, these operations can include various different types of welds and non-welding operations. Generally, the simulated welding system may include any or all of the features and capabilities disclosed in the patents and patent applications incorporated by reference in full above.

An exemplary embodiment of a simulated welding training system or simulator 100 is illustrated in FIG. 1. As shown, the system 100 comprises a chassis (also referred to as a console) 102, a welding stand 104, an at least one welding tool 106. A welding helmet 108 is also included in the exemplary system. The welding helmet 108 comprises a face mounted display device that provides images to a user as the user interacts with the simulated welding system 100. As illustrated, the welding stand 104 may comprise a display 110 that can be configured to replicate what is displayed in the face mounted display device and/or can provide an interface used to set up the simulated welding system, provide user performance data, or other user interface functions related to the system 100. The welding stand 104 may also comprise a workpiece holder 112, a position tracking system 114, a work surface (table) 116, and a base 118. The position tracking system 114 serves to track the position of the helmet 108, at least one welding tool 106, and in certain exemplary embodiments, the workpiece. Depending upon the configuration and training method (e.g., VR or AR), the workpiece may be a metal shape with the characteristics of a real workpiece. In other exemplary embodiments, a coupon may represent a real workpiece with the system generating an image that simulates a real workpiece for presentation to the user in the face mounted display device.

In order to provide welding training to a variety of users who may have different training requirements, an exemplary welding training system may comprise a variety of different welding tools 106, welding stands 104, and displays 110 (and face mounted display devices). For example, see FIG. 1 and FIG. 7. Additionally, some exemplary embodiments may be configured in a desktop arrangement as shown in FIG. 9. As a result, the external devices that must connect and be supported by the chassis 102 can vary greatly from one welding training system to the next. Known chassis designs required dedicated arrangements to produce systems similar in capability as the system configurations illustrated in FIGS. 1, 7, and 9. In addition, dedicated interface components were often required for each connection made to the chassis 102. The result was that a number of different chassis configurations were required to produce the various welding training system arrangements. In order to produce these different arrangements in a timely manner, an inventory of different chassis configurations was required to be maintained.

In an exemplary embodiment, a chassis with a predefined form factor (i.e., size and shape), is capable of being configured to interface with a plurality of external components. Such a chassis 102 along with a plurality of external components is illustrated in FIG. 2. As illustrated, the chassis 102 includes interface connections 202, a bay 204 for function modules, and an optional base section 206 that may be configured with wheels 208a and 208b to enable the chassis to easily be relocated.

Because there are multiple welding methods that can be employed (for example, stick welding, TIG welding, and MIG welding), welding training can involve multiple such methods and as a result, simulated welding training systems require the proper mock tools to simulate the various methods. As disclosed in the various incorporated herein, simulated welding training systems generate and display an image appropriate for the tool or tools based on the type of welding being trained. In order to provide a user with the sensation of welding that corresponds to what is being displayed by a simulated welding system, a mock welding tool is provided to the user. These mock welding tools have sensors or markers that are used by the position tracking system 114 to track the location and orientation of the mock welding tool. However, as illustrated, there are a number of different configurations needed. FIG. 2 illustrates mock welding tools such as a stick welding tool 210, a MIG welding tool 212, a TIG torch 214 and a TIG filler metal 216. Also illustrated is a foot pedal 218 that is used to control certain aspects of the welding process, such as, without limitation, the advancement of a wire electrode in a MIG welding tool 212.

As can be observed from FIG. 2, each of these mock welding tools has a different configuration. As would be understood by one of ordinary skill in the art, these mock welding tools represent real-world tools that also have different functionalities. For example, the stick welding tool 210 includes a simulated welding rod 210a. In a real-world welding operation, welding rods are consumable. In order to properly weld with a real-world stick welding tool, a user must be able to compensate for the consumption of the rod. Thus, to properly train the user in a simulated welding environment, the stick-welding tool must simulate the consumption of the welding rod. As a result, this mock welding tool as well as others that have similar functionalities require a control signal from a processor or other control device (processor) located in the chassis 102. To properly provide this control, the processor must be able to identify what sort of mock tool is connected to the chassis. In addition to providing the proper control signals to the mock welding tool, the processor must also identify the mock welding tool so as to provide the correct representation in the simulated environment created for the user. In an exemplary embodiment, the mock welding tool is connected to the chassis 102 with a cable. This cable serves to convey to the chassis 102 information that identifies the type of real-world tool that the mock welding tool represents. Thus, when the tool is connected to the chassis 102 via a connector 202, the processor receives the identifying information from the tool and causes the correct image to be created.

As noted above, a plurality of different tools may be connected to the chassis 102 including, but not limited to, a stick welding tool 210, a MIG welding tool 212, and a TIG torch 214. Instead of requiring a plurality of tools along with an associated plurality of cables and connectors, a configurable mock welding tool may be employed. In an exemplary embodiment, a configurable mock welding tool is adapted to be configurable to represent a plurality of different tool types. Such a configurable mock welding tool 300 is illustrated in FIG. 3, In one exemplary embodiment, a simulated TIG torch 304 serves as a baseline form factor. A handle 302 can be connected to the baseline TIG torch 304 to form a mock TIG torch similar to the dedicated TIG torch 214 of FIG. 2. A MIG form factor can be formed by connecting the handle 302, an extension 306, and a MIG tip 308. A stick welding tool can be formed by connecting the handle 302, the extension 306, and a stick welding head 310. In an exemplary embodiment, electrical contacts are embedded into the various components (handle 302, extension 306, and the TIG torch 304, MIG tip 308, or stick welding head 310) to allow the configuration to be communicated to the chassis 102 via the cable 312. In an exemplary embodiment, these contacts are located at the interface between a first and a second component (for example, at the interface between the handle 302 and the TIG torch 304). Thus, the processor (comprising a computer processor, memory, and storage) of the chassis 102 can detect the configuration of the configurable mock welding tool 300 and generate the correct image to display to a user.

In an exemplary embodiment of the configurable mock welding tool 300, the embedded electrical contacts can also serve to power and control actuators such as a motor that serves to simulate the consumption of the stick of the stick welding head 310 or retract a length of wire used to simulate the consumption of wire used in the MIG tip 308. For example, during a simulation, the processor may determine a rate of consumption of the simulated stick due to simulated welding activity and provide a control signal to the stick welding head 310 that causes the tip of the stick to be retracted towards a body of the stick welding head. This action, combined with a marker or other transmitter located at the end of the stick causes the processor to adjust the position of the tip displayed in a simulated welding environment as well adjust the simulated arc if the user does not compensate by moving the tip of the stick closer to a simulated workpiece.

Like the consumption of the stick in stick welding and the wire in MIG welding, the TIG welding process also consumes a filler wire. As one of ordinary skill in the art will understand, TIG filler wire is ordinarily held in a user's hand and manually fed into the weld joint to fill the joint as needed. In order to enhance the simulation of the TIG welding process and thus the user's training, an exemplary embodiment includes a TIG filler wire that can be retracted away from the work surface as a TIG welding process is simulated. In one exemplary embodiment, a simulated metal wire for TIG welding could be telescoping or collapsible to simulate burn-away as the user moves the wire toward the workpiece. The user positions the end of the filler rod/wire at the sight of the simulated puddle on the simulated workpiece. The filler rod/wire is held in place within the sheath by friction until the user moves the sheath towards the workpiece (or the filler rod/wire can be telescoping or collapsible in another embodiment). The sheath slides over the filler rod/wire as the friction is overcome when the user moves the sheath towards the workpiece with the end of the filler rod/wire pressing against the workpiece at the site of the joint. When a simulated droplet is formed into the simulated puddle, the user can move the sheath back away from the workpiece slightly. The friction between the sheath and the filler wire will pull the tip of the filler wire away from the joint. The user can repeat this process, where the filler wire appears to get shorter over time (as the sheath is getting closer to the workpiece), simulating consumption of the filler wire in a TIG welding process. In an exemplary embodiment, a sensor is located on the simulated filler metal wire or sheath to provide feedback to the simulated welding simulator with respect to how far the wire has been retracted or compressed, indicating how much filler wire has been fed into the weld. A simulated TIG welding process 400 is illustrated in FIG. 4. As is shown, a mock TIG torch 402 is positioned above a joint 404 to be welded in workpiece. A user (not shown) positions a mock TIG filler wire 406 such that in a real-world weld, the filler would melt into the joint 404 to form the weld. In an exemplary embodiment, a wire (filler wire or rod) 408 is positioned within a sheath 410 of the mock TIG filler wire 406. As the user pushes the mock TIG filler wire 406 into the joint 404, the wire 408 is pushed back into the sheath 410, simulating the consumption of the mock TIG filler wire 406 by causing a sensor 412 located at the tip of the mock TIG filler wire 406 to move closer to the user's hand. In another exemplary embodiment, an actuator such as an electric motor can be disposed in the mock TIG filler wire 406. The actuator receives a signal from the controller located in the chassis 102 that causes the wire 408 to retract, moving the sensor 412 to move closer to the user's hand, simulating the consumption of the mock TIG filler wire 406.

In order to support the various configurations described herein, including the various tools 106, some of which may comprise actuators and/or electrical connections that communicate the tool type to the chassis, dedicated interface circuitry may be required. For example, certain mock welding tools would not ordinarily require control signals from the processor the chassis but may require power for a transmitter used by the position tracking system 114 to identify the location and orientation of the mock welding tool. Other tools, such as the MIG tip 308 described herein, may require power and control for an actuator in addition to a transmitter used by the position tracking system 114. Furthermore, as described herein, a simulated welding system may comprise a plurality of welding stands 102, position tracking systems 114, displays 110, and welding tools 106 to support one or more users simultaneously. As was illustrated at 204 in FIG. 2, a bay 204 may be included in the chassis 102 to support various modules required to interface and power tools 106, welding stands 102, displays 111, and other components used by the simulated welding system. FIG. 5 illustrates such a bay 204. A facia plate 502 is illustrated in the bay. Facia plates 502 may be configured to support interface connections 504, controls 506, and display devices 508 according to the needs of the simulated welding system as it may be configured. For example, a single user configuration may comprise interfaces and controls needed for a single user while a dual user configuration may comprise a second set of interfaces and controls needed to support the tools 106, welding stands 102, and displays needed by a second user. In addition to the facia plate, various modules 510 are used to provide control circuitry needed for a particular configuration. For example, a dual user configuration may require a second set of power supply circuits to power devices used by the second user. Thus, a module 510 that includes the second power supply may be added to the chassis 102 by being inserted into a receiving location provided by the bay 204.

In an exemplary embodiment, a simulated welding system 100 as illustrated in FIG. 1, is configured to only support one user at a time. In other words, the system 100 can support a single user interacting with the simulated welding system 100 at any one point in time. Such a system may be used to train a first user, and then when the first user is not interacting with the system, a second user may use the simulated welding system 100. As shown, a single welding stand 104, an assortment of welding tools 106, and a single welding helmet 108 are supported by the system 100 with this configuration of the chassis 102.

The illustrated welding stand 102 includes a display 110. In an exemplary embodiment, a user interacts with the display 110 to make changes to the simulated welding system settings, start training exercises, view scores and reports, and other user interface activity. In an exemplary embodiment, such changes can be made via the display using touch screen functionality. Additionally, a third-party (e.g., and instructor) can observe the performance of the user via the display 110.

In the single user configuration, the chassis 102 is configured to support one simulated (virtual reality) work site which includes the welding stand 104 and table 116, a display 110, and other accessories (such as a welding helmet 108, tools 106, cables, and welding coupons which represent workpieces). FIG. 6 illustrates an exemplary list of components of the single-user simulated welding system 100 of FIG. 1. The list includes components of the welding stand 104 and table 116, tools 106 and other devices, and the chassis 102. In a single user configuration, the chassis 102 is configured to include one digital I/O motor module, one AC input module, one DC power module, and one processor (computer assembly) to support one user. In such an exemplary embodiment, the digital I/O motor module controls a stick welding motor and includes hardware to interface the motor to the processor. The AC input module is configured to distribute AC input power within the chassis 102. The DC power module is configured to distribute DC power within the chassis 102. The processor includes a main computer providing the computing and simulation capability for the single worksite.

In another exemplary embodiment, a simulated welding system 700 as illustrated in FIG. 7, is configured for a dual-users. In other words, the simulated welding system can support two users simultaneously interacting with the simulated welding system 700. Such a system may be used to train two users, where the first user and second user may be performing similar welding operations thus requiring each to have the same or a similar set of welding tools (702A and 702B). Such a system 700 may also support a different welding operation being performed by each user. In other words, the system 700 supports two different users performing welding training at the same time whether in discrete simulated environments or the same simulated environment. As shown, a first welding stand 704, a first assortment of welding tools 702A, a first welding helmet 706, a second welding stand 708, a second set of welding tools 702B, and a second welding helmet 710 are supported by a single chassis 712.

As shown, each welding stand (704 and 708) comprise a display 714 and 716 that allow two users to interact simultaneously with the simulated welding system 700 to make adjustments to settings or otherwise configure, initiate training, or view reports. In certain exemplary embodiments, these display (714 and 716) may be provided with touch screen functionality to facilitate use interaction.

In the dual user configuration, the chassis supports 712 two simulated (virtual reality) work sites which each include a welding stand (704 and 708) and table (718 and 720), a display (714 and 716), a welding helmet (706 and 710) and other accessories (such as tools 702A and 702B, cables, welding coupons which represent workpieces). FIG. 8 illustrates an embodiment of a list of components of the dual-user simulated welding training system 700 of FIG. 7. FIG. 8 includes a listing of components of the welding stand and table, devices, and the chassis 712. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 6, the chassis is configured to include two digital I/O motor modules (right/left), two AC input modules (right/left), two DC power modules (right/left), and two processors to support two users. Each digital I/O motor module controls a stick welding motor and includes hardware to interface the motor to the computer. Each AC input module is configured to distribute AC input power within the chassis. Each DC power module is configured to distribute DC power within the chassis. Each processor includes a main computer providing the computing and simulation capability for one of the two worksites.

In another exemplary embodiment, a simulated welding system 900 as illustrated in FIG. 9, is configured for mobile transport or benchtop use. As shown simulated welding system 900 is configured to supporting one user. FIG. 9 also shows a coupon base assembly 902, a coupon riser stand 904, a swing arm 906, and a display 908 adjacent to the chassis 910. In this manner, a user can interact with the display 908 via a touch screen and therefore does not have to repeatedly access the chassis 910 to make changes to the simulated welding system 900 settings.

In the mobile transport or benchtop configuration illustrated, the chassis 910 supports one simulated (virtual reality) mobile transport or benchtop work site which includes a coupon riser stand 902 and 904, a swing arm 906, a display 908, a welding helmet 912 and other accessories (such as tools 914, cables, a foot pedal 916 and welding coupons which represent workpieces). FIG. 10 includes a listing of components of the mobile transport or benchtop simulated welding system 900 of FIG. 9. FIG. 10 lists the components of a benchtop stand and table, devices, and the chassis 910. In the illustrated exemplary embodiment, the chassis 910 is configured to include one digital I/O motor module, one AC input module, one DC power module, and one processor assembly to support one user. The digital I/O motor module controls a stick welding motor and includes hardware to interface the motor to the processor. The AC input module is configured to distribute AC input power within the chassis 910. The DC power module is configured to distribute DC power within the chassis 910. The processor assembly includes a main computer providing the computing and simulation capability for the mobile transport or benchtop worksite.

Thus, as illustrated by the listing of components in FIGS. 6, 8, and 10, a single chassis can be re-configured into one of three possible configurations. Many of the components of the three possible configurations are common to all three configurations, thus saving time and money while providing the possibility of three different configurations. For example, the digital I/O motor module, the AC input module, the DC power module, and the computer assembly are common to all three configurations. In summary, disclosed is modular and reconfigurable chassis for simulating welding training that supports multiple varieties of training systems, including, without limitation, single, dual and desktop arrangements. The invention has been described herein with reference to the disclosed embodiments. Obviously, modifications and alterations will occur to others upon a reading and understanding of this specification. It is intended to include all such modifications and alterations insofar as they come within the scope of the appended claims or the equivalence thereof.

US Patent for Modular and reconfigurable chassis for simulated welding training Patent (Patent #  11,557,223 issued January 17, 2023) (2024)

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