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Metals technology Airmen mold mission, ensure serviceability

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Dhaimiah Williams, 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals technology technician, uses an arbor cut-off to grind a piece of aluminum at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Jan. 31, 2017. Airmen assigned to the 20th EMS metals technology lab ensure all equipment entering the lab, including F-16CM Fighting Falcon parts, meets safety and structure specifications. Once specifications have been met, the parts are returned to the providing unit for installation and use. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christopher Maldonado)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Dhaimiah Williams, 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals technology technician, uses an arbor cut-off to grind a piece of aluminum at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Jan. 31, 2017. Airmen assigned to the 20th EMS metals technology lab ensure all equipment entering the lab, including F-16CM Fighting Falcon parts, meets safety and structure specifications. Once specifications have been met, the parts are returned to the providing unit for installation and use. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christopher Maldonado)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Mason Carny, 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals technology technician, stands amongst metal shavings at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Jan. 31, 2017. Airmen assigned to the 20th EMS metals technology lab perform maintenance on various pieces of equipment around base ranging from F-16CM Fighting Falcon parts to munition accessories. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christopher Maldonado)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Mason Carny, 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals technology technician, stands amongst metal shavings at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Jan. 31, 2017. Airmen assigned to the 20th EMS metals technology lab perform maintenance on various pieces of equipment around base ranging from F-16CM Fighting Falcon parts to munition accessories. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christopher Maldonado)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Mason Carny, 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals technology technician, cleans coolant out of a piece of machinery at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Feb. 2, 2017. At the end of each shift, Airmen assigned to the 20th EMS metals technology lab are required to clean workspaces for Airmen entering the next shift. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christopher Maldonado)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Mason Carny, 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals technology technician, cleans coolant out of a piece of machinery at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Feb. 2, 2017. At the end of each shift, Airmen assigned to the 20th EMS metals technology lab are required to clean workspaces for Airmen entering the next shift. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christopher Maldonado)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Dragging a hefty piece of aluminum to his work bench, an Airman kick starts his day of molding the elements as he dons his protective face mask and prepares for flying metal shavings and scorching conditions. 

Airmen assigned to the 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron metals technology laboratory are tasked with ensuring broken gear and tool parts such as bolts and gears are repaired or replaced and are ready for re-installation into numerous pieces of equipment around base.

“Not only do we service and support the flightline, but we also service other agencies around the base,” said Tech. Sgt. Adam Gant, 20th EMS aircraft metals technology NCO in charge. “We support various units such as the 20th Communications Squadron and the 20th Medical Group.”

Upon receiving a piece of equipment from another unit, 20th EMS aircraft metals technology Airmen begin their process by troubleshooting the type of care requested for the part. Whether it is repairing the part by sanding excess rust or recreating the part from a solid block of metal, these Airmen are masters of their craft.

Troubleshooting sometimes entails numerous measurements to ensure accuracy and reliability of the piece along with increased durability.

Gant said there are more than 140 measurements that need to be made on some items before they are deemed serviceable.

Airmen from the 20th EMS aircraft metals technology flight work with a number of metal-transforming machines that recreate broken pieces from a solid piece of metal, as well as welding tools used to join together two or more pieces of metal.

On average, Gant said the shop repairs more than 1,500 pieces of equipment annually.

These Airmen work around the clock through split-shifts, always ready to repair whatever comes into their shop.

“We usually come in at about 6:15 a.m. and leave at 3 p.m.,” said Senior Airman Dhaimiah Williams, 20th EMS metals technology technician. “At the end of the day, we do turnovers and cleanup for the next shift that works late night.”

With their wide skillset in metal transformation and welding tools, the Airmen assigned to the 20th EMS metals technology laboratory said they’re ready to tackle anything thrown their way, helping make the sparks fly at Shaw.