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Shop technology and 3-D CAD: Product development

January 9, 2017 | By Gerald Davis

Columnist Gerald Davis shows a work flow for creating two versions of the same product.

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What makes estimating effective in metal fabrication?

January 9, 2017 | By Tim Heston

Good estimating involves more than just numbers crunching. A good estimator needs to communicate and collaborate with various people, from the owner to the machine operator. That person also needs the right organizational structure and technology in place to be effective.

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The future of work in metal fabrication

January 9, 2017 | By Tim Heston

The future of work in metal fabrication may be less about a specific task and more about uncovering better ways to satisfy customer demand and get the job done.

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What does continuous improvement mean to you?

January 6, 2017 | By Jeff Sipes

How do you define “continuous improvement”? Turns out, it depends on your organization and your role within it. Altogether, the mix of continuous improvement perspectives within a company should strike a balance between two concepts: efficiency and effectiveness.

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3 things you should know about air-assisted laser cutting

January 6, 2017 | By Robert Farrell

Laser cutting with nitrogen as an assist gas is still the No. 1 choice for applications in which edge quality is critical. Air as an assist gas, however, might work in some not-so-critical applications, and its use will generate sustainable cost and time savings while boosting productivity.

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4 ways to save on aluminum extrusion processing costs

January 6, 2017 | By Spencer Dick

Fabricators that cut a lot of aluminum extrusions probably end up with plenty of scrap. Traditional thinking suggests that’s not so bad because recyclers pay them for the aluminum scrap. Over the long term, however, that thinking is costing them money. If fabricators can minimize scrap, they can maximize revenue because that raw material, once destined for the scrap bin, will be transformed into something of high value. Optimization software and cutting automation can help fabricators keep their material out of that scrap bin.

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Does ventilating large-part welding applications have you fuming?

January 6, 2017 | By Travis Haynam

A one-size-fits-all approach to ventilating welding fumes from large fabrications isn't going to work, because while it may remove the fume hazard, it likely won't keep the welder's breathing zone completely clear of particulates. That's why a fabricator should consider several different elements to create a suitable ventilation setup.

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FABTECH 2016: Closing the loop for manufacturing perfection

January 6, 2017

More than 31,000 attendees came to the Las Vegas Convention Center for FABTECH® 2016. As always, new technologies didn’t disappoint. Exhibitors, conference speakers, and attendees all talked about positive changes ahead, about “closing the loop” to make their manufacturing organization one cohesive, determined unit, ready to compete.

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Anatomy of a robot-based welding system

January 4, 2017 | By Bob Rochelle

A robot is only a part of a robot-based automation system, whether the system is for welding or other applications. Regardless of the application, several components and functions are common to all systems. Controls, communication devices, operator interfaces, sensors, peripheral equipment, parts handling equipment, fixtures, safety features, and cable management devices are common components in all systems. Most projects require some personnel involvement as well.

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Shaping the laser beam for the best cut

January 4, 2017 | By Tim Heston

The Fraunhofer Institute in Germany has developed a system that quickly oscillates the beam in specific patterns as it cuts, welds, or otherwise processes material. These patterns have the effect of “shaping” a laser beam, allowing the technician to tailor the beam’s shape to fit the application.

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Understanding modern press brakes

January 4, 2017 | By Paul LeTang

This overview provides a brief discussion of press drives, crowning systems, and tooling setup found on today's press brakes.

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Construction project showcases best of metal fabrication

January 4, 2017 | By Eric Lundin

Editor Eric Lundin interviewed several of the people who were instrumental in the design, fabrication, and installation of the decorative façade that adorns FMA’s new office in Elgin, Ill

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Using key performance indicators to measure progress

January 4, 2017 | By Bill Frahm

To improve a process, you need to measure the results and compare them against expectations. In many instances, a metal former needs to define key performance indicators and keep track of them to determine just how its shop is performing.

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Colorado stamping manufacturer’s solar array sees 5-year ROI

December 15, 2016 | By Kate Bachman

Colorado stamping manufacturer Qualtek Manufacturing installed a solar array on its warehouse and office with a wind power purchase agreement, and replaced inefficient heat treatment furnaces.

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Auto Suppliers Partnership for the Environment builds strong companies 5 ways

December 15, 2016

Considering the competitive state of the automotive industry, any kind of best practices sharing and collaboration among automotive OEMs would seem counter-intuitive. Yet, on the important topic of the environment, major automakers and top suppliers have been doing just that since they formed the...

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