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Joonas Innanen, 27, is one of the newer generation of welders. Although he studied traditional methods of welding from MIG to TIG, he has also adopted new technologies during his career. Innanen worked as a welder and a welding teacher, before becoming a development engineer. His current position is Product Development and Engineering Manager at Tehomet, Finland. However, his interests are not totally work-related, and he won the bronze medal in Construction Metal Work at the international WorldSkills competition in 2013. And although his work life revolves around welding, he can’t get enough of it in his free time either. Over the years, he has worked on many car-building and other welding-related projects.
It’s all about finding the balance
Despite his young age, Innanen has a broad background in welding, and that’s why we wanted to know his thoughts about what makes welding so great.
”A big part of building a car happens on the computer, not on the welding shop floor”, he says and that pretty much sums up his thoughts about modern welding. The welds are what keep the car together, but a lot of work is also done before assembly. Each piece has been planned and 3D-modeled in detail, and the welder has looked at it in a virtual reality environment in advance. This is a great example of the diverse skills needed in welding, and the balance that needs to be found between the planning and the actual welding on the shop floor.
Welding is cool and clean
One thing that worries him a bit is getting young, skillful people interested in welding. “If I put myself in the shoes of a 16-year-old school kid choosing a career, I would put a lot onto the shoulders of the schools and their marketing.”
Innanen thinks that the schools could do more to help youngsters see that welding can be, and is, more than aimless metal melting in a workshop. “In most cases when you go to a sheet metal welding shop, you’ll see the welders TIG welding stainless steel in a clean space with fresh air masks on”.
Innanen’s interest is specifically in TIG welding, not only because it’s well suited to building cars but also because it’s clean and it requires a lot of skill and precision, as well as an eye for design and a steady hand. Even though more time and effort need to be put into TIG welding, it’s worth it since the seams are neater and, in some cases, better quality.
”There’s a place for each welding process also in the future, but I’m personally drawn to TIG welding because that’s what I started with in school.”
The way to be a perfect welder
Planning and welding are both important, but a lot also depends on the welder. Innanen has a few words of encouragement for young people who are drawn to welding.
“A welder is never ready” he says.
To be a good welder, in his opinion, you need to have a level of professional pride. You have to be able and willing to admit your mistakes and learn from them. This comes from pure interest – the dexterity will come later.
And about the pure interest? Joonas Innanen does the same thing in his free time that he does at work and that’s what he sees as the core idea of welding as a whole. He plans and makes 3D models, and thinks each piece through carefully. And then he welds the pieces together. Why? Remember: A large part of building a car happens on the computer, not on the welding shop floor.
With his willingness to learn and test his skills, Innanen and his friend Tero Komulainen rebuilt a 1972 Fiat 600.