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The laser is 50, and still beaming

May 17, 2010

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On May 16, 1960, Theodore Maiman of Hughes Labs became the first person on the planet to build light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation—or laser. (Thank goodness the acronym stuck.) On Sunday, the laser turned 50. I’m willing to bet that on that day in 1960, Ignacio “Nacho”...

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Fabricators on recovery and job creation

May 12, 2010

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If you didn’t receive this week’s "Fabricating Update," you missed some promising numbers about the economic recovery and manufacturing jobs. Have no fear; I'm repeating them here, because they are worth repeating: The U.S. added 290,000 jobs in April, the largest monthly total since March...

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Is manufacturing cool again?

May 10, 2010

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Did you here? The folks who make things for a living are now … cool. Many business gurus out there, including Warren Buffett, say manufacturers are leading the economic recovery. The Institute for Supply Management reported the fifth month of growth in manufacturing employment. ISM’s employment...

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Fabricating to the rescue yet again

May 5, 2010

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By now everyone has heard about the massive oil spill taking place in the Gulf of Mexico, a result of an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig April 20. If you haven't, you'll also be shocked to know that bell bottoms have come and gone out of style again and that Abe Vigoda is still alive ....

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Playing field could become even more precarious

May 5, 2010

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For the nearly eight years I’ve been asking fabricators about the state of metal manufacturing, many have expressed the opinion that a primary contributor to the decline in U.S. manufacturing is an unlevel playing field with China. In stating their opinions, these fabricators typically mention...

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Good news from the oracle

May 3, 2010

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Omaha, Neb., became a worldwide business epicenter over the weekend. Its oracle spoke. Warren Buffett held his annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholder extravaganza in Omaha. He spoke in the Qwest Center to some 40,000 investors, and afterward held a press conference to trumpet his message: Business...

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Saluting civilians

May 1, 2010

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Some people might think that the only way to serve their country is by joining the military. If that were true, then this country, the men and women currently serving, and our national security would be in a world of trouble. Even though they don't receive much recognition, the fact is civilians...

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Big spill, bigger problem

April 29, 2010

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What a difference a week makes. On April 19, Transocean Ltd.’s Deepwater Horizon rig was doing some exploratory drilling in the Gulf of Mexico on behalf of BP. After a six-year drought that started in 1994, BP had discovered several major oil deposits throughout the last decade: Marlin, 2000;...

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No pixie dust for manufacturing jobs

April 28, 2010

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Do you ever have one of those days, weeks, or years in which nothing seems to go right? (If you answered "no" to this question, let us all in on your secret.)  I'm having one of those weeks, and I'm attributing all the madness and irritations to the full moon. That's right; I’m blaming...

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Labor is not a bad word

April 27, 2010

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Countless talking heads have argued for and against globalization. Some say it’s an unstoppable force, as companies continue their hunt for the company that gives the most bang for their buck. In manufacturing, that often translates to the cheapest labor that can meet or exceed required quality...

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Robotics market shrinks; innovation continues

April 22, 2010

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The manufacturers and systems integrators that gathered for ABB's 2010 Robotic Technology Days, April 21-22, in Auburn Hills, Mich., showed up in good moods. The economy looks to be slowly emerging from the depths, and the technological innovations haven't slowed down during the slowdown. The past...

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Reykja-where?

April 22, 2010

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Events in Iceland generally don’t warrant international headlines. That’s not to say it isn’t an interesting place. If you’re into linguistics, you already know that its language is essentially the same as when it was spoken by its original settlers; 1,000 years of relative isolation has...

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Looking ahead: Fabricators on the next six months

April 21, 2010

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Business Roundtable’s first quarter 2010 CEO Economic Outlook Survey indicated that the CEOs of America’s leading companies anticipate increased capital expenditures, sales, and employment in the next six months.  A recent survey of manufacturing CFOs, conducted by Grant Thornton LLP, shows...

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Irony in Ireland: Global trade and volcanic ash

April 19, 2010

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‭This week has dripped with irony. On Wednesday I traveled to a press event at Combilift,‭ ‬a forklift and material handling equipment manufacturer several hours northwest of Dublin,‭ ‬in the rolling green hills of County Monaghan.‭ ‬The company exports most of its vehicles and keeps...

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For those who weld old steel, we salute you

April 16, 2010

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If a metal fabricator has been around long enough, he probably has come across more than a couple of welding situations that have him lifting off his helmet and scratching his noggin. He likely has done everything correct according to the textbook, but the joint  just does not come together like...

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