Woodworking is an ancient profession, and some artisans maintain a connection to the old ways through the use of nothing but traditional hand tools. But technology has a place in woodworking, too, and its role continues to grow. Would you ever have guessed that virtual reality tech would be involved?
Though they’re usually associated with video games, virtual reality headsets and software can actually help train future woodworkers, according to the Woodwork Career Alliance (WCA), which offered continuous interactive demonstrations of its high-tech training systems at the 2019 AWFS Fair in Las Vegas.
“Virtual reality is a tremendous tool for instructing students and new employees on the safe operation of equipment used in our industry,” said Scott Nelson, president of the WCA. “Young adults and kids are being raised on interactive video games that have a strong VR component. I think training simulators like the ones that will be demonstrated in Las Vegas can help attract more youths into our industry. I encourage educators and woodworking company managers to stop by our booth to see the potential of these systems first-hand.”
WCA teamed up with Chicago-based company Mimbus two develop two unique virtual reality training systems: the Wood-Ed Table and Simpsray. The first is a four-in-one system that can teach students how to operate basic woodworking machinery like bandsaws, ripsaws, jointers and shapers in a safe environment using 3D interactive glasses.
The Simpsray is a virtual reality machine that replicates a spray booth, so trainees can experience the process of applying a wood coating using a hand-held spray gun before doing it in real life. What’s the point, you may ask? The teachers say the use of this technology not only reduces the cost of finishing materials during training, it also eliminates a whole lot of VOC emissions from spray operator training programs.