FMA Communications Inc.

Eric Lundin

Editor
FMA Communications Inc.
833 Featherstone Road
Rockford, IL 61107
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Working with stainless on a budget

December 11, 2007

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The high cost of stainless steel—especially the spikes caused by nickel surcharges—has caused many tube manufacturers' customers to look for alternative alloys. What can tube producers expect after switching from a 300-series stainless to a less expensive alloy? It depends on the new alloy and the production process.

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Fabricating: Employment or enjoyment?

October 9, 2007

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Robert Warnett didn't take many vocational classes in school, never spent much time reading about welding or fabricating, and never had a job in a shop. However, he made quite a few friends in the fabricating industry and made a hobby out of fabricating. Being a hands-on type of guy, he has capitalized on the knowledge and experience he has acquired over the years to do something that many people only dream about doing. He builds custom motorcycles.

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Rough waters on Wall St., smooth sailing on Main St.

September 12, 2007

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You don"t need me to tell you that the Wall Street roller coaster is moving a little too quickly and unpredictably lately. Any investor paying even the slightest amount of attention is feeling something between growing wariness and outright alarm. After breaking 14,000 in July, the...

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A high-flying metal fabricator

September 11, 2007

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From its beginning in 1986 as a machine shop, Custom Tube Products has changed to a fabrication shop. Along the way it has adapted to the skilled worker shortage, mainly by trading in its manual processes for automation.

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Piston rods

Vertical integration broadens company's horizons

June 12, 2007

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Senior Editor Eric Lundin visited Industrial Hard Chrome, a chrome plater that provides chrome-plated components for hydraulically powered equipment such as graders and backhoes. He traces the company's development from a plater that provided its services to the paper and pulp industry four decades ago to a plater and OEM with its own product line today.

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Hand spinning lathe

A new spin on metal forming

April 10, 2007

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Glenn Metalcraft Inc. started out as a tool and die shop in Minneapolis in 1947. Today it is an $8-million-a-year contract manufacturer that has created a niche in spin-forming circular and conical components up to 0.750 in. thick. Glenn has found a high-volume niche, producing wheels, brakes, and other components, using a process that traditionally was used almost exclusively for prototype and low-volume work.

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Turning a machine shop into a fabrication shop

April 10, 2007

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Senior Editor Eric Lundin traces the history of a machine shop-turned-fabricator. Founded in 1984 as Target Boring, the company changed from a machining shop to a fabrication shop when, in 1994, it purchased its first sheet and plate laser cutting system. Now named Target Laser & Machining Inc., it boasts three lasers for sheet and plate (two 2-D machines and one multiaxis machine) and one for cutting tube.

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Miller plasma cutter

From Pens to Plasma Cutters

January 9, 2007

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What happens when an editor gets to weld? Let Senior Editor Eric Lundin share his first-hand experience. Visitors could try their hands at a variety of welding and cutting processes at Miller Electric's semitruck parked in Hall B at the FABTECH International & AWS Welding Show in Atlanta , Oct. 31-Nov. 2.

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Bauer check fixtures

Think you have a challenging bend? Bring it on

December 12, 2006

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Take a look at Bauer Welding & Metal Fabricators Inc., a company that thrives on difficult bending applications. It stays away from the hypercompetitive portion of the bending industry—4D to 5D bends in medium-wall-thickness tubing, applications that don't require a mandrel—and gravitates toward tight-radius or variable-radius bends in several planes, parts that require several processes such as bending and flaring, and components that needed flattening and welding.

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The future of energy: stability or volatility?

November 7, 2006

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Senior Editor Eric Lundin looks at changes in supply and demand for energy, and how they have affected the prices for crude oil, gasoline, natural gas, and electricity. He also digests a few predictions to see what fabricators can expect for future energy prices.

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VICON Elite Plasma

Better cuts with plasma

November 7, 2006

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One job led Keller & Son Industrial Contractors Inc., Spartanburg, S.C., to buy a new plasma cutting table in 2001. The need for extra capacity required it to purchase another in 2006. Now the company feels it is in the perfect position to take on all types of metal fabricating jobs.

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Aluminum pipe pioneer streamlines tube mill welding

October 10, 2006

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When Hastings Irrigation Pipe Co., a manufacturer of aluminum pipe, needed to replace its decades-old welding power supplies, it looked for units that could weld a variety of thicknesses at fast welding speeds. What it found were power supplies that allowed the company to run its mills faster and save money in several ways.

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Long loads, narrow aisles, easy access

September 12, 2006

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Since starting with just one warehouse in 1989, J G Kelly Supplies has grown along with Ireland's booming construction industry. Limiting factors such as the warehouse's doorway width, narrow aisles, and 90-degree turns meant the company had to rely on manual labor to handle the long, cumbersome items in its inventory. A standard forklift was out of the question. The company eventually purchased a multidirectional side-loading lift truck from Combilift for moving inventory in this challenging environment.

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Tube and pipe bending trends

July 11, 2006

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Interviews with several tube-bending equipment-makers reveal that tube bending is becoming more complex every day, for a number of reasons. Manufacturers try to decrease material usage and go to stronger, difficult-to-bend materials with thinner walls; many manufactured items are smaller than ever before; and bends have to be smoother, especially in exhaust systems. Meanwhile, fabricators are split into two camps: High-volume OEM that are increasingly dependent on advanced controls and flexible workcells, and job shops that still get by on less sophisticated, manually operated equipment.

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Fabricator puts the brake on bend inconsistency

June 13, 2006

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Well-known for agriculture, Nebraska also has a strong manufacturing base. OEMs include Kawasaki, Husqvarna, Eaton, Thermo King, Claas, and Case New Holland. Standard Iron & Wire, a Minnesota-based fabricator, opened a manufacturing facility in Grand Island, Neb., to take advantage of this fertile manufacturing environment. Chief among its concerns was finding a press brake that would produce accurate, consistent parts. It purchased two LVD press brakes with the company's adaptive bending technology.

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