Five steps to planning your career growth

Guest blogger Sue Salvemini is the founder and president of Focal Pointe, Inc., which provides executive coaching, leadership development and business consulting services. 

Climbing the corporate ladder often seems narrow and difficult to navigate. With limited senior level positions and multiple talent striving for the same job, the journey can be overwhelming and often discouraging.

As an individual, you enjoy your work, you like your colleagues, and your company is a great fit. Other than feeling stalled in career advancement, you are happy! So how do you advance and achieve your goals without feeling that your only option is to change jobs or companies? Are there opportunities right in front of you that you may be missing? Are you leading yourself intentionally with a focused direction?

As a team leader or manager, you recognize the talent of the individuals who work for you. You desire to advance certain individuals, yet there are limited opportunities or available positions. You fear losing talent, and wish there was a way to retain your best people. You strive to be the best leader you can be, if only you knew how.

The following five steps will start your journey towards resolving these issues:

  1. Define your VISION. Where do you see yourself in one year? Two years? Five years? Where do you see your team? What is it about that vision that is important for you to achieve?
  1. Evaluate your VALUES. What is most important to you personally and for your team? Performance? Accountability? Leadership? Open communication? Work-life balance? Financial and fiduciary responsibility? Timeliness? Respect? The list is endless! Prioritize what’s most important to you. Examine what it is about each value that is true for you.
  1. REFLECT on both your Vision and Values. Do they align with your current work, goals, and activities on a daily basis? If not, how might your actions be adjusted?
  1. Identify your professional and personal GOALS –specifically, with detail. What is getting in your way of accomplishing them? Time? Money? Focus? Fear? Skill sets? Uncovering your barriers or perceived barriers is a starting point to getting beyond them.
  1. Reflect on your CAREER. What unique skill sets do you offer? Where would you benefit from more training and development? Who do you look to for guidance? Mentorship? If you don’t have any mentors, how do you find them? How do you see your circle of influence? Other than focusing on your own career advancement, how are you impacting those around you in their journey? What opportunities exist for growth and development independent of a job change?

Taking time to reflect on these questions is the first step towards uncovering the answers.  You hold the answers within — and through coaching, guided reflection exercises, sharing and exchange, the answers you uncover will help point you in the direction of realizing your true potential and identifying vast opportunities for professional growth.                                                

Working with a clear vision, aligned with your core values, will provide you and your team with substantial accomplishments, sense of fulfillment and satisfaction in the work you do and the people you work with daily.

For more information on Focal Pointe or Sue Salvemini, visit www.focalpointeinc.com or download the flyerfor her upcoming seminar “Be Vibrant – Mastering Your Energy in the Technical Workplace” for individuals in STEM careers.

10 advantages of electron beam welding

Since we started this blog a few months ago, we’ve written about a lot of topics related to laser welding, which hopefully you’ve found useful. Now we’d like to turn your attention to another type of welding that’s a favorite of ours – electron beam welding.

Electron beam (EB) welding is an excellent choice for joining advanced materials used in industries such as aerospace, semiconductors, and medical devices.  Here are 10 advantages of EB welding. (I could come up with more, but 10 is a nice round number, isn’t it?)

  1. No gas contamination: Because EB welding is done in vacuum, there’s no atmospheric gas contamination.  This results in the cleanest, highest-quality weld possible. For parts that require post-weld testing such as x-raying, EB welding is your best option.
  2. Less distortion and shrinkage:  EB welding is a very controlled process with minimal shrinkage. The EB spot size is under .003”,  which results in a very narrow weld and a very narrow heat affected zone. This minimal heat input results in less distortion and shrinkage. This is a major advantage for customers, since it allows finished parts to be welded without additional, post-weld processing.
  3. Excellent for refractory materials such as titanium, niobium, and tantalum. Since EB welding is done in a vacuum chamber, it prevents the exposure to oxygen that can cause these welds to fail. This is particularly an issue with welding titanium –  if the welds are exposed to oxygen, it can cause a serious failure called alpha casing.
  4. Will not damage heat-vulnerable materials:  Because of the low heat input of EB welding, temperature-sensitive parts can be located in proximity to the weld region.
  5. Ability to weld dissimilar metals:  This is another area where EB really shines. EB is a robust process for joining copper to stainless steel, and copper to nickel-based alloys including Inconels and Hastelloys, which would not be practical with other processes.
  6. Flexible process: I’ve welded materials less than .001” thick and up to 4” thick with the same machine.  It’s versatile enough to handle very deep to very shallow welds.
  7. Good for high volume, high quality welds:  EB welding technology has made leaps and bounds in productivity and accuracy in the recent past. Antechambers eliminate the pump down time from the equation, and seam tracking eliminates operator expertise. EB is now a very robust process.
  8. Automation:  EB welding has used CNC automation since the 1960s. In fact, some of the CNC EB machines that were built in the 1960s are still running today.  EB welding has proven longevity and is a very stable, repeatable process.
  9. Reflective materials: Because the delivery system of the energy in EB welding is electrons, not photons, EB can easily weld highly reflective materials like copper, platinum, and Hastelloys. Most laser beams would bounce right off these materials.
  10. Highly efficient:  EB welding is about 90 percent efficient – meaning 90 percent of the input power is reaching the part. That’s more important to us as welders rather than you the customer, but it’s another reason to love EB welding.

As you can see, there are many EB welding advantages that can provide solutions for your most challenging welding projects.  We’ll discuss these topics in more detail in future posts.  In the meantime, if you have a question or comment, feel free to leave it in the space below.  

And, as always, be sure to talk to a welding expert for the best recommendations on your particular project.

Watching the eclipse at Joining Technologies

Like the rest of the country, all of us at Joining Technologies were pretty excited to see the solar eclipse yesterday.  But not everyone was able to get their hands on eclipse glasses.  So, to avoid being “Blinded by the Light” (to steal a great song title from Bruce Springsteen), Scott Boynton rigged up a way for all of us to watch the big event safely.  Scott, President of Joining Technologies Automation, used mirrors to project the eclipse through our windows and onto the screen in our conference room.  Check out this short video to see how it worked.

And, in case you were wondering – laser glasses definitely don’t protect your eyes from an eclipse!  Scott explains why:

Even though Connecticut was outside the path of totality, we still had an amazing view of the eclipse. John Lucas (author of many of our blog posts) captured this image through eclipse glasses placed over the lens of his smartphone:

The next total eclipse in the U.S. is April 8, 2024 when cities and towns from Texas to Vermont will be directly in the path of totality. Start planning now!

And feel free to share a comment about your own eclipse experience in the space below.

Laser welding dissimilar metals: one is not like the other

 

We’ve gone over some interesting topics in past blogs.  Hopefully you’ve read through them. This one is going to build on some of the tidbits previously mentioned.

Sometimes when it comes to product design, joining different materials becomes unavoidable.  We don’t need to cover ALL of the possible reasons, but the more common ones are thermal management and mechanical characteristics (strength, corrosion resistance, etc.).  Yes, those are very broad topics. 

Perhaps it would be best to look at two scenarios:

Case 1: Sensor weldment for corrosion resistance

In this project, the designer has a temperature sensor that is ideally suited for the temperature range and temperature change rate of a fluid (Hydrochloric acid).  However, the sensor is not well suited for the medium and would corrode due to its sheath material (304L stainless).  In order to achieve a reasonable service life, a sheath of Inconel 625 would be much more appropriate.  In this situation, it is not feasible for the sensor manufacturer to make a custom unit out of Inconel. Good news – Inconel 625 and 304L, despite being different alloys, are readily welded together.  For a rapid resolution, a sensor sleeve of Inconel 625 can be welded to the 304L sensor, and so long as the 304L portion stays clear of HCl exposure, the life expectancy is excellent.

Case 2:  Oven heating element

Specialty heating elements can be made out of a variety of materials, many of them very expensive.  For this heating element, the designer needed a section of the unit, which would be exposed to extremely high temperatures, to be made from molybdenum.  Making the entire element from “moly” was cost prohibitive, so making the business end from “moly” and the mounting end from 300 series stainless ended up being the solution that fit the bill.   This element now has a melting point of almost 4800° F at the working end, and even though the stainless end has a melting point of 2600° F, because of intelligent design and planning it never even gets close.  The customer saves money, AND has a highly reliable heating element with no difference in performance over a 100% moly part.

Not all materials can be welded to all other materials, but a surprising number of combinations ARE possible.  Stay tuned for some special content in the near future on this very topic.  If you have an immediate question about laser welding dissimilar metals – contact us at 860.653-0111!