When teenager Matt Lander checked into TWI's Welder Training Centre this Summer for refresher brazing tuition his stopover took on a particular significance. He is about to represent the UK in Japan at this year's World Skills competition in Japan in November.
The 19 year old servicing and installation engineer is hoping to carry away the top award for brazing skills on air conditioning and refrigeration plant.
The World Skills competition is widely perceived as the Olympics of industrial ability competitions. It is held every two years and embraces trades from plumbing and hairdressing to refrigeration welding and catering.
'Last June my employer entered me for the regional competition. I didn't know what it was for, but I came first' recalls Matt. 'Then there was a further competition but the standards were a lot higher and I came first in that as well. Then came a final competition selection to make sure I could make the grade for the World Skills competition.'
Matt's career began in 2004 with Crowther and Shaw. 'I was at Grimsby College for three years and then I had six weeks additional training specifically for this competition. An examiner picked up on some things that I needed to improve upon so he contacted Colin Eileens in the Welder Training Centre at TWI. Colin invited me down this week to work with Martin D'Urso, one of TWI's welding instructors, to improve and pick up new tips. I have learnt a lot in the last few days.'
The joining process adopted in the competition is oxy-acetylene gas brazing. As Matt explains it makes good strong joints between copper and copper, copper and steel, and copper and brass and is what the refrigeration trade uses everyday in new installations and repairs.
'Unlike welding, with brazing the parent material stays the same throughout the joining process and filler metal is drawn in between the parent materials' clarifies Matt. 'The capillary action allows you to braze at every angle, in all positions. The filler, whether it is copper, phosphorus or silver solder, will flow wherever there is heat.'