Rich Little, a welding engineer at United Launch Alliance, the space vehicle manufacturing company that manufactured the Atlas Delta and Vulcan Centaur launch vehicles, says that incoming welders will need preparation in the basics, including shield metal arc welding, gas metal arc welding, gas tungsten arc welding. He adds that on top of that, it would be great for them:
to learn some computers, electrical, systems, robotics—and start to understand that not all welding today is shield metal arc welding anymore, and these systems get very complicated. So, it almost becomes an engineering level of understanding on many systems [and that] if a technician is trying to go into aerospace or really any manufacturing discipline that there is, whether that be automotive, or shipbuilding… having a knowledge of cycle times and manufacturing efficiency is important.
Rich also fills us in on a particularly interesting solid-state welding process often used in aerospace, friction stir welding:
It’s widely used because it’s a solid-state welding process that doesn’t necessarily deteriorate the mechanical properties of the base material. So, we’re not necessarily heating materials. We’re taking them into that—the technical term I like to use is “a mushy stage”—prior to melting and joining two materials together. Various methods of friction stir welding [are used] in various applications.