FMA Communications Inc.

Eric Lundin

Editor
FMA Communications Inc.
833 Featherstone Road
Rockford, IL 61107

Keeping it together at 330 MPH

June 29, 2015

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Top Fuel races are a dazzling sight, covering 1,000 feet in little more than 3 seconds. The drivers get the glory and the engines get the attention—they develop approximately 10,000 horsepower—but underneath the car’s exterior is a marvel of modern engineering: a tubular chassis that somehow holds together through 4G of acceleration during the race and the even harsher 5G of deceleration when it’s over.

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Fabricators flying ultralights

June 24, 2015

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Most people who own ultralight aircraft buy them fully assembled, but this isn't the only option. U-Fly-It, DeLand, Fla., lets the buyer be the builder if he's handy and has about two weeks to spare.

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When life hands you lemons, build a sign

June 23, 2015

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After the sign for his auto repair business fell off the building, Dominick Alia tried his hand at fashioning his own sign. One thing led to another, and metal sculpture became a hobby.

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Fabricator turns up the heat

June 1, 2015

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When A.O. Smith, the company known for developing the glass-lined residential water heater, had a bottleneck at its resistance welding station and sought an alternate welding method. It had been making a lap welding on galvanized steel by resistance welding, but this trapped vaporized zinc; escaping vapors weakened the weld. A new method, a butt weld performed by laser welding, doesn’t trap the vapors, leaving a visually appealing weld that is essentially free of defects.

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Turning to milling for weld preps

May 26, 2015

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Preparing tube or pipe ends for welding with a portable tool is one way to get the job done, but for complex end forms and high-volume work, a stationary beveling machine is the way to go.

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Bending and brewing

May 11, 2015

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Sheet metal worker Paul Ziegman puts in long days building stainless steel kitchen equipment for restaurants and other food-service businesses in and around Spokane, Wash. He recently opened his own such business using the same equipment and skill set.

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Heat it where you need it

May 5, 2015

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Before Thom Shelow founded Superior Joining Technologies Inc., he did quite a variety of welding, but his welding experience wasn’t the only asset he used to make the business a success. He keeps an open mind and is always ready to analyze new ideas, new concepts, and new technologies. “That’s the way we’ve always done it” doesn’t prevail at SJTI.

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Reaping rewards with precision laser cutting

April 8, 2015

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In 1973 full-time farmer Mike Van Mill tried his hand at building a grain wagon for a neighboring farmer, and he has been at it full-time since incorporating Brent Industries a few years later. Now the operations manager for Unverferth Mfg., Shell Rock, Iowa, Van Mill is part of a team that manufactures implements under the Brent brand name. The staff runs the facility like a savvy farmer runs a farm, always looking for a better way but proceeding cautiously. A sheet laser purchased in the early 2000s led to a tube laser purchased in 2014.

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Electric bender cuts lead times, scrap rate

March 12, 2015

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Former toolmaker Toolspec Manufacturing Co. has transitioned over the years to become a fabricator, and over the years acquired 14 hydraulic benders. The machines are capable but require lengthy tool changeovers, hours of programming time, and substantial expertise to maintain bend consistency. It recently invested in two all-electric machines, benders that don’t have these issues.

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Handling structural steel, one truckload at a time

March 5, 2015

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For structural fabrication-and-construction companies, efficiency in logistics is vital. A typical column, beam, truss or joist is handled three times—first to a storage yard, then to a staging area, and finally to the semitrailer. However, this isn’t the only way to do it. Reinicke Athens Inc. recently invested in a straddle carrier from Combilift Ltd. Instead of moving one part at a time, the truck lifts and moves an entire load a time, cutting its trailer-loading time from up to 8 man-hours to as little as 30 minutes.

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The Superior way to implement lean manufacturing

March 5, 2015

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Editor Eric Lundin interviews two individuals who were key in establishing product flow at Superior Tube Co. Inc., tracing the big steps the company took to go from a conventional push system to a lean pull system.

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Developing a national, international bending standard for tube and pipe

January 23, 2015

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An update from an article that ran in the September 2013 TPJ, this column describes a research project intended to help eliminate trial-and-error setups, conserve programmers’ time, and help get products to market faster by helping everyone involved in a bending project home in on the optimal bending process before getting started.

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Art in motion

January 22, 2015

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Welder and artist Ed Kidera uses his engineering background to create unusual works of art, many of which are dynamic rather than static.

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Don’t buy it, bend it

January 21, 2015

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Bill Farris, owner of auto components supplier and repair shop Marden Tire & Auto, Rockford, Ill., focused on tires and repairs for many years, staying away from the inventory-heavy exhaust business. All that changed when King Cobra Muffler Centers Inc. approached him with a new way to handle exhaust systems: Stock straight pipe and bend systems when necessary.

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High-precision plasma system automates Chromalox’s cutting, beveling processes

December 17, 2014

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Chromalox, a manufacturer of industrial heating systems, relied on skilled workers do quite a few manual processes, especially cutting and beveling. As the supply of people with this skill slowly dried up, the company realized that it would need to invest in an automated system. It chose an Ultra-Cut 400 XT plasma power supply from Thermal Dynamics (Victor) and coupled it to a 6-axis CNC pipe-handling system from Watts Specialties Inc.

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