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What construction slowdown?

June 3, 2008

Manufacturing continues to plug along, not expanding, but not exactly in a slump either. The Institute for Supply Management"s index, the PMI, released this week, grew slightly, from 48.6 in April to 49.6 in Maystill not in growth mode, but it"s more than most had predicted. The view from the... Continue Reading

Manufacturing to the rescue

May 30, 2008

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Today I spoke with Steve Smith, president, It Straps On Inc., a Covington, La.-based manufacturer of stainless steel banding, buckles, and brackets. We were chatting about his company"s E award, an honor the federal government bestows on companies that are aggressive in promoting U.S. exports.He... Continue Reading

Silver lining in energy costs?

May 28, 2008

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These days, wherever I go & whomever I talk to & the conversation usually turns to high gas prices. When I shake my head at the ever-increasing cost of produce at the market, my first thought after "Should I buy these blueberries at this price?" is It"s those high fuel costs!It's not just... Continue Reading

The state of steel: Going up

May 22, 2008

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I"m not sure how fabricators are coping with rising steel prices. I guess it"s like rising gas prices: You deal with it because it"s a fact of life.Unfortunately, there"s little relief in sight. John Surma, U.S. Steel"s chairman and CEO, told financial analysts in April that flat-rolled steel... Continue Reading

Still made in the U.S.A.

May 21, 2008

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Quick—off the top of your head—what metal product introduced in the U.S. in 1945 is made from 98 feet of wire, is advertised with one of the most memorable jingles of all times, sells for less than $5.00, has sales totaling more than 300 million, and still is being made in the U.S.?... Continue Reading

Traci"s story: A good reason to get lean

May 20, 2008

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By 1994, Traci Tapani knew things had to change. As co-president of a Stacy, Minn.-based job shop, she just had a baby and was about to go on maternity leavethat is until a certain customer, who provided more than half of the company"s revenue, found out. They had a fit, she said. They... Continue Reading

Welding wisdom

May 19, 2008

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I just finished up with a four-day crash course in welding technologies at the Hobart Institute of Welding Technology in Troy, Ohio. Assistant Editor Michael Bishop, Associate Editor Amanda Carlson, and I decided it would be better to get our feet wet in the world of welding at an educational... Continue Reading

Iron Man's plasma cutter

May 14, 2008

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I haven't seen "Iron Man," but after reading a news release today, I'm moving the movie to the top of my must-see list. It's beating all others at the box-office, but that's not my main reason for wanting to see it. In fact, I generally stay away from superhero movies."Iron Man"... Continue Reading

Exports: The economy's saving grace?

May 12, 2008

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California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez made a case for free trade in today"s Wall Street Journaland they used recent export numbers to buttress their argument. Even at a time when our economy has slowed, U.S. exports are booming. In 2007, we... Continue Reading

Safety first

May 8, 2008

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Two co-workers and I are heading off for some welding training next week, which will allow us to beef up our welding knowledge and generally embarrass ourselves in front of skilled professionals. So as I was having an e-mail conversation earlier this week with Gerald Davis, the author of The... Continue Reading

Steel for pennies?

May 7, 2008

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Are you finding it difficult to procure the steel you need at prices you can afford? Are you banking on the government to improve availability and affordability? You"d better hope that the latest idea under government consideration doesn"t worsen your problem. The Associated Press reported today... Continue Reading

Brokaw gives perspective

May 5, 2008

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It"s not often a reporter for the metal fabrication industry gets to quote a speech by Tom Brokaw, but this week isn"t usual. I"m down in Orlando, Fla., attending SAPPHIRE, an information technology conference hosted by German software giant SAP, short for Systems Applications and Protocols in Data... Continue Reading

Dunkin' Donuts doesn't know oxyfuel

April 30, 2008

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Have you seen the Dunkin' Donuts (DD) commercial that features men wielding oxyfuel torches to toast food? When this commercial aired as my husband/resident welding expert and I watched TV the other night, he immediately began to point out all the things that were wrong from a technical... Continue Reading

Unfamiliar surroundings

April 28, 2008

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When you make a fast-food cashier roll her eyes, you know it"s been a long day.Unfamiliar surroundings can make me about as smooth as when I accidentally stabbed my date with the corsage pin before junior prom (yes, that did happen). I"m on the road this week, and today I drove a certain rental car... Continue Reading

Time to lawyer up

April 25, 2008

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This week I attended an open house event at ESAB Welding & Cutting Products, Florence, S.C.. I got to see some wonderful welding innovations—many of which you will see in upcoming issues of The FABRICATOR and Practical Welding Today—and had the opportunity to chat with the company"s... Continue Reading