To Cue or Not to Cue

by Chris Gandee



The VRTEX® 360 has the ability to give a user hands-on assistance without being “hands-on.” Accessing the VRTEX® 360 visual cues is as simple as pressing a button, the orange one (Actions and Cues)!  There are six visual cues available on the VRTEX® 360. The visual cues are:

  • CTWD (Contact Tip to Work Distance) or Arc Length
  • Work/Travel Angle
  • Position
  • Travel Speed
  • Whip
  • Weave

The visual cues are designed to aid the user in understanding where and how the training system is expecting them to weld.  This teaches the student proper positioning and movement during the weld.  The instructor has the option to turn on visual cues at the beginning of the weld and remove them as the student welds the coupon to let the student understand the adjustments they have made to their form.

The use of visual cues on the VRTEX® 360 is very helpful.  They are helpful to a new welder that is not comfortable with the proper position.  They are also helpful to an experienced welder that may have gotten into some habits that need to be adjusted or improved.

This month’s tip offers ideas on how to implement visual cues in your program and how to get the most out of them in the process.

The Study of the Cues:

Dr. Richard Stone is a professor at Iowa State University teaching Industrial Engineering and Human Factors.  In an independent study, Dr. Stone and his graduate students at ISU conducted multiple studies.  The study focused on a group of people learning to weld using traditional teaching methods and a group of people learning with a blended methodology of traditional and virtual welding training.

Note:The resulting three ISU studies can be found in the VRTEX Library

A portion of one study evaluated the use of visual cues in the training atmosphere.

What they found:

The ISU team found that students using visual cues out preformed those that did not, proving the use of visual cues as a teaching aid.  It was found that students using more than two visual cues at a time became distracted.  These students had a lower pass rate than those that only focused on one or two specific areas at a time. 100% of the students using visual cue combinations of travel speed, arc length or work-travel angle passed the 2F, 1G and 3F tested welds. 57% of those that used no visual cues passed and only 22% passed that used all visual cues at the same time.

What to Do?

The ISU study shows that visual cues are effective, even more so when implemented in a way that allows the student to focus on a specific area or two.

You may be asking “How do I do that?” 

A visual cue allows the student to understand what is expected of them.  It provides them a clear head start on proper position and movement over a traditional welder training program. The visual cues act as the instructor’s helper, guiding the student under the helmet.

The best way to implement visual cues is to first determine a user’s welding areas of improvement.  Allow the student to run welds and watch the Live Action Student Evaluation Report (LASER) screen. The graph measures the user’s position in the joint, work angle, travel angle, travel speed and CTWD or arc length. Note: for more information on the LASER screen, see the Operators Manual Pages B-15 through B-19. 
Upon completion, gather the results from the LASER screen and determine, based on the evaluation and scoring provided, what areas the user needs to focus their time and attention.  If there are multiple areas, turn on one cue at a time and allow the user to perfect each area before moving to the next. Remember, the ISU study identified that more than two visual cues can cause distractions. Once the user is consistently producing higher scores with no cues on, they are ready to move on to traditional welding in the lab.

It is Definitely Time to Cue!