A job 'weld' done

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Keenan Berry
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Sparks fly, metal grinds and heat radiates from heavy machinery as Airmen from the 442nd Maintenance Squadron metals technology shop prepare their products for the Warthogs.

In addition to welding metals for the A-10s the shop prepares a wide variety of metals for different base agencies.

"We make and repair aerospace ground equipment," said Staff Sgt. Erik Lof, 442nd MXS machinist and welder. "Special parts, stuff for the bomb dump, the loaders, the flightline, other back shops, etc. We even make plaques for the retirements of some of our members."

Welding and machining can be manual or set to programmed automated processes. The process chosen depends on the customer's request. "It's a hands-on-job," said Tech. Sgt. Cameron McWilliams, 442nd MXS machinist and welder. "Every day, we are doing something different. One day, you could be welding, another day you could be manufacturing a part from a detailed drawing. There are so many different things you can do in this career field."

Welding and machining technology has advanced over the years, making it possible to complete tasks in a timely and efficient manner.

"Our career field is constantly changing," Lof said. "The machining industry changes drastically every year, and we have to stay on top of those advances, so we are constantly learning new

Along with learning new technology, maintaining focus and attention to detail while working is important when dealing with precious metals.

"There is no tolerance for error when dealing with tens of thousandths of an inch measurements," Lof said. "A human hair is ap- proximately three-thousandths of an inch, and those are the types of measurements we deal with on a daily basis. Attention to detail is crucial."

With the unpredictable work schedule and attention detail, the 442nd MXS metal technology shop enjoys doing their job.

"It's a great job," Lof said. We are constantly changing what we do every single day from making trailers for the bomb dump to making parts and measuring for inspection on the aircraft. It's an excellent career field."