FMA Communications Inc.

Tim Heston

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

Laser Cutting | Articles

Is this laser cutting lens damaged?

September 16, 2016 | By Tim Heston

Laser operators and maintenance technicians have a new diagnostic tool: a tiny crossed polarizer, which can detect lens stress. The crossed polarizer clips onto a smartphone and utilizes the phone’s polarized flat-panel display.

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Materials Handling | Articles

Moving additive manufacturing forward

September 14, 2016 | By Tim Heston

EWI’s Buffalo Manufacturing Works, which opened in 2015, has resources covering all seven major categories of additive manufacturing. But having access to the technology and equipment in-house is just half the story. The other half involves experts in design, materials, processes, and quality all working together to move additive technology forward.

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Shop Management | Articles

Winning new business in custom metal fabrication

September 14, 2016 | By Tim Heston

It can take a long time for a prospect to become a major customer, and of course there are no guarantees. This makes building a diverse customer base easier said than done. Through rebranding and restructuring, one custom fabricator in Minnesota aims to change this.

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Shop Management | Blog Posts

College and the manufacturer

September 13, 2016 | By Tim Heston

Why is college so expensive? Sky-high demand may have something to do with it. Other businesses could learn a thing or two from custom fabricators and other manufacturing sectors, where a four-year college degree isn't the only ticket to success.

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Shop Management | Articles

Order fulfillment velocity makes the difference

August 30, 2016 | By Tim Heston

Haydon Corp. was an early adopter of business software, and it continues to use its enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform comprehensively. The software, along with standard business practices baked into the company’s DNA, has helped the roll former maintain an extremely short order fulfillment cycle.

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Shop Management | Articles

Communication in custom metal fabrication: Good ideas, good stories, good community

August 30, 2016 | By Tim Heston

For years Jones Metal, a Mankato, Minn.-based custom fabricator, has published not an occasional employee newsletter, but a weekly digital paper, available at touchscreen kiosks throughout the front office and shop floor. The publication keeps everyone up-to-date on important metrics, spreads improvement ideas and, perhaps most important, builds community.

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Bending | Articles

Press brake bending: Forming long and skinny

August 29, 2016 | By Tim Heston

Phoenix Products has more than doubled its size during the past year, and much of that growth has to do with tackling an unusual niche: the bending of long, skinny parts.

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Arc Welding | Articles

Robot deposits welds in high gear with Tip TIG

August 17, 2016 | By Tim Heston

A new robot welding cell incorporates TIP TIG, a hot-wire welding process that feeds an oscillating wire under a tungsten electrode. In some applications, the method reportedly allows the robot to weld at speeds close to those of gas metal arc welding.

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Shop Management | Blog Posts

Manufacturing and the consumer class

August 16, 2016 | By Tim Heston

Manufacturing built the middle class, a consumer class. Today, this "middle" consumer class is fading. For a consumer-based economy, that can't be a good thing.

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Shop Management | Articles

Accounting for time in metal fabrication

August 11, 2016 | By Tim Heston

Traditional cost accounting treats inventory as an asset and, according to the author of a new book, does not capture the true costs of long lead times. A new accounting method, which complies with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), aims to correct this.

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Shop Management | Articles

Metal fabrication for the visually impaired

August 11, 2016 | By Tim Heston

Beyond Vision, a not-for-profit organization that employs people who are visually impaired and blind, has an eight-person machine shop that recently delved into metal fabrication. The company’s story shows just how much these people can contribute to a job shop operation.

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Shop Management | Blog Posts

Local efficiency versus global objectives in metal fabrication

August 9, 2016 | By Tim Heston

Metal fabricators are swimming in data these days. The trick is collecting the right data and focusing on what matters: global objectives (shortened total manufacturing time) instead of local efficiency (inches per minute at a specific machine).

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Laser Cutting | Articles

A fabricator founded on operator skill

August 3, 2016 | By Tim Heston

In quiet, rural New Ulm, Minn., technicians at DLC Manufacturing & Fabrication are perfecting the craft of cutting and bending sheet metal and plate, making clean cuts in steel 1.5 in. thick (and even thicker). It’s a small shop where skill runs deep.

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Shop Management | Articles

Augmented reality reaches the manufacturing floor

August 2, 2016 | By Tim Heston

Augmented reality (AR) remains an emerging technology, but it eventually could change how hands-on tasks in manufacturing get done.

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Plasma Cutting | Articles

Robotic plasma cutting gets flexible

July 29, 2016 | By Tim Heston

It used to take days or weeks to program a robotic plasma cutting cell. Now, like in welding, robotic plasma cutting has become much more flexible and adaptable. Offline programming and simulation, as well as flexible components of the robot cell itself, have made this possible.

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