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Thankful for the people of metal fabrication

November 19, 2012

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This Thursday my family will continue a long, albeit corny tradition. We go around the table and tell people what we’re thankful for. It’s a refreshing respite from all the dreary news--about China, the European mess, the Fiscal Cliff, and all the uncertainty and dysfunction from our nation’s...

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FABTECH 2012: A reason for optimism

November 16, 2012

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The year was 2008. FABTECH, North America's largest metal fabricating and forming technology tradeshow, was making its first visit to Las Vegas. The opening day of the event generated a lot of excitement because more visitors attended that first day than had ever attended a FABTECH opening day,...

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At FABTECH 2012: Two people manufacturing will need

November 12, 2012

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What a crowd in Las Vegas. Official attendance numbers, which are audited, aren't released yet, but early estimates are that today may have been one of FABTECH's most well-attended opening days. Vendors I spoke with were happy with the crowds, and attendees said their shops were busy. Some have...

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Fabricating real value

November 9, 2012

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As I was watching Hurricane Sandy coverage on Oct. 29, I flipped on CNBC only to find a reporter lamenting the fact that the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) might be forced to close for a second day due to inclement weather, marking the first time since the Blizzard of 1888 that weather had forced...

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Letter to the President

November 7, 2012

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Dear President Obama: Congratulations on your reelection. Although I did not vote for you, I sincerely wish you the best of luck and fervently hope that you are able to work with our gridlocked Congress to enact measures that will help our economy. Frankly, I am discouraged by the past four years,...

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Fabricating on the fast track

November 2, 2012

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UPI Manufacturing, Eagle, Wis., began with a noble thought: How can a company help out U.S. soldiers? The most obvious answer was to start manufacturing to support the war effort. So in 2003 the Dretzka family, who ran Underground Pipeline Inc., jumped into the metal manufacturing business. Since...

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Putting the storm into perspective

October 31, 2012

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Despite all of the advancements of mankind, we are not—and likely never will be—a match for Mother Nature. Whether it’s an earthquake, tsunami, hurricane, tornado, typhoon, drought, flooding, volcanic eruption, or some other natural disaster of epic proportion, Mother Nature has a way of...

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Another perfect storm

October 29, 2012

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Much of the East Coast has been bracing itself for Hurricane Sandy while the rest of us wait and wonder. After developing on Oct. 22, it hit Jamaica, Cuba, and the Bahamas, and eventually became the largest recorded hurricane to roil the Atlantic, with a diameter approximately 1,000 miles....

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Busy or slow, manufacturer never stops improving

October 28, 2012

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If tragedy has a silver lining, it is that it brings everything else into stark clarity. Those who suffer usually either wallow or emerge triumphant. Chesterfield, Mo.-based Cambridge Engineering did the latter. As Vice President of Manufacturing Michael Mueller put it, “We had a new spirit, and...

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No votes for education?

October 24, 2012

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The current survey on thefabricator.com’s homepage asks which issue in the upcoming presidential election is most important to site visitors. It’s no surprise that the economy, including taxes, debt and deficit, and jobs, is the No. 1 concern with 55 percent of the votes. Of the 13 remaining...

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Direct-diode lasers enter the sheet metal cutting arena

October 22, 2012

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CO2 gas lasers still dominate sheet metal cutting, but they aren’t the only game in town anymore. Solid-state lasers like the fiber and disk varieties--which use diode lasers to pump, or excite, the lasing medium--continue to have considerable market success. And now fabricators may have a new...

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Getting up to speed on "soft" costs

October 18, 2012

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I've got a friend that coordinates purchasing relationships between U.S. manufacturers and Chinese part suppliers. That may rub some people the wrong way, but his current occupation is just part of a natural evolution. He once acted solely as a manufacturer's rep for manufacturing service providers...

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Just answer the question, please

October 17, 2012

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Today’s subject is pet peeves—more specifically, those that struck a nerve with me in last night’s presidential debate. Let me begin by listing a few of my pet peeves: Tardiness; the phrase “my bad” uttered by anyone over the age of 4; negativity; rude behavior, such as interrupting and...

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Fab reporter notebook: In lean manufacturing we trust

October 16, 2012

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Yesterday I spoke with a production manager (on background) with a not-so-uncommon challenge. He had been brushing up on the basics of continuous improvement, including lean manufacturing methodologies adapted for the high-mix, low-volume environment. All the talk of efficient part flow, shorter...

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Opportunities worth trumpeting

October 15, 2012

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We all know wage growth in this country is next to nothing. It’s one reason why the presidential election season has been so contentious. Employees continue to work harder than ever, while employers hesitate to hire more. But metal fabricators and other manufacturers have another problem: Some...

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