Metals tech: perfection in precision

Airman 1st Class Heather Chambers, 23d Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals technology journeyman, plasma cuts a steel plate, Dec. 19, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Metals technology technicians strive for perfection when fabricating and repairing Team Moody’s aircraft and equipment to ensure they maintain their continual high ops tempo. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Erick Requadt)

Airman 1st Class Heather Chambers, 23d Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals technology journeyman, plasma cuts a steel plate, Dec. 19, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga.Metals technology technicians strive for perfection when fabricating and repairing Team Moody’s aircraft and equipment to ensure they maintain their continual high ops tempo. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Erick Requadt)

Airman 1st Class Heather Chambers, 23d Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals technology journeyman, plasma cuts a steel plate, Dec. 19, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Metals technology technicians strive for perfection when fabricating and repairing Team Moody’s aircraft and equipment to ensure they maintain their continual high ops tempo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Erick Requadt)

Airman 1st Class Heather Chambers, 23d Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals technology journeyman, plasma cuts a steel plate, Dec. 19, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Metals technology technicians strive for perfection when fabricating and repairing Team Moody’s aircraft and equipment to ensure they maintain their continual high ops tempo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Erick Requadt)

Airman 1st Class Heather Chambers, 23d Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals technology journeyman, poses for a photo, Dec. 19, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Metals technology technicians strive for perfection when fabricating and repairing Team Moody’s aircraft and equipment to ensure they maintain their continual high ops tempo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Erick Requadt)

Airman 1st Class Heather Chambers, 23d Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals technology journeyman, poses for a photo, Dec. 19, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Metals technology technicians strive for perfection when fabricating and repairing Team Moody’s aircraft and equipment to ensure they maintain their continual high ops tempo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Erick Requadt)

Airman 1st Class Heather Chambers, 23d Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals technology journeyman, performs tungsten inert gas welding on a steel plate, Dec. 19, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga.Metals technology technicians strive for perfection when fabricating and repairing Team Moody’s aircraft and equipment to ensure they maintain their continual high ops tempo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Erick Requadt)

Airman 1st Class Heather Chambers, 23d Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals technology journeyman, performs tungsten inert gas welding on a steel plate, Dec. 19, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Metals technology technicians strive for perfection when fabricating and repairing Team Moody’s aircraft and equipment to ensure they maintain their continual high ops tempo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Erick Requadt)

Airman 1st Class Heather Chambers, 23d Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals technology journeyman, performs tungsten inert gas welding on a steel plate, Dec. 19, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Metals technology technicians strive for perfection when fabricating and repairing Team Moody’s aircraft and equipment to ensure they maintain their continual high ops tempo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Erick Requadt)

Airman 1st Class Heather Chambers, 23d Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals technology journeyman, performs tungsten inert gas welding on a steel plate, Dec. 19, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Metals technology technicians strive for perfection when fabricating and repairing Team Moody’s aircraft and equipment to ensure they maintain their continual high ops tempo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Erick Requadt)

A metal cover cut by the 23d Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals technology flight rests over a drain, Dec. 19, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Metals technology technicians strive for perfection when fabricating and repairing Team Moody’s aircraft and equipment to ensure they maintain their continual high ops tempo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Erick Requadt)

A metal cover cut by the 23d Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals technology flight rests over a drain, Dec. 19, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Metals technology technicians strive for perfection when fabricating and repairing Team Moody’s aircraft and equipment to ensure they maintain their continual high ops tempo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Erick Requadt)

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --

Precision is the name of the game for the metals technicians, who must abide by the welding and machinery measuring tolerance of three thousandths of an inch, which is approximately the width of a human hair.

The 23d Maintenance Squadron’s (MXS) aircraft metals technology technicians strive for perfection when fabricating and repairing Team Moody’s aircraft and equipment to ensure they maintain their continual high ops tempo. 

“Every part has to be a specific size for a reason, especially on the aircraft,” said Airman 1st Class Heather Chambers, 23d MXS metals technology journeyman. “If our measurements are wrong, the parts could fall out, they could cause damage, or it could cause people to lose their lives.”

When using devices such as micrometers and calibers, the metals technicians require patience to be able to get such detailed measurements.

“It takes a lot of patience, it takes a lot of trial and error,” Chambers said. “You have to know your machine, know yourself and know the metal that you’re working with.”

Even with their advanced methods of exact measuring, the metals technicians still have to figure out how to navigate through each job, because each one presents its own challenges and difficulties.

“You have to learn that there are many different ways to do different jobs,” Chambers said. “The hardest part for me is to be able to sit there and think to myself, ‘For this project what would be the best route to go with this piece.’ If you take the wrong route and do something incorrect, it could compromise the quality of your part, blowing it out of your tolerance. You have to think how you can make this part the best that you can.”

Because the metals technicians never compromise on the quality of their precision, they are able to ensure the other squadrons and sections around the base are effective in their mission.

“Thanks to the precision of the metals tech shop we don’t have any delays,” said Tech. Sgt. Samuel Dahlgren-Castilla, 23d MXS jet engine intermediate maintenance NCO in charge. “They keep our production on schedule. When they come out here and they do their job well, then we don’t have any hiccups and we just keep on rolling.”

At the end of the day, with their proficiency in precision, the metals technicians are able to produce the parts needed to carry out the mission on base and beyond, keeping the jets in the air and the equipment running to help protect the nation’s liberties.

“We make sure everything we put out of our shop is exact,” Chambers said. “Everything that we do is professional grade that looks like it was made by a machine. Everything we do, we make sure it is correct.”