Pop culture and fabricating

December 7, 2007
By: Dan Davis

I just got back into town from visiting a metal fabricating shop that will be highlighted in The FABRICATOR in early 2008. It"s the type of company that makes me feel good about manufacturing in the U.S. You wouldn"t mind working for the management team or spending an eight-hour shift in this facility. It"s fabricating at its best.

Of course, we do our best to promote metal fabricating as a possible career choice, but our magazine goes only to other metal fabricators. In a sense, we"re preaching to the choir.

But if you look around, you"ll see the results of metal fabricating efforts are everywhere. Now, a metal grate over
a hole in the sidewalk or a metal fence may not inspire one to choose a new vocation, but it may spur an interesting
conversation with someone who might know a thing or two about how those metal pieces were fabricated.

The folks at Orange County Choppers appear to be the poster boys for metal fabricating in pop culture nowadays. It seems the OCC family has some sort of promotional arrangement with every metal fabricating or welding equipment manufacturer in existence. Well, that"s not exactly true. One welding equipment supplier told me they really didn"t want to be associated with the OCC shop because of their disregard for welding safety. Apparently, arm protection is not mandatory at OCC.

But even if you look past the whole chopper phenomenon, you can see how cool metal fabricating is. Check out the unveiling of the new Mach 5 from the Speed Racer movie that will be
out in 2008. That"s an incredible creation of an automobile most of us only know from the Japanese cartoon that hit U.S. TVs in the 1970s. If you know the shop behind the work on this vehicle, shoot me an e-mail because I"d love to find out who did the great work.

It reminds me of a short piece I read about the fabricating work behind the new Batmobile from Batman Begins, released in 2005. It was less of a reproduction and more of a complete reimagining of the vehicle Batman and his sidekick Robin cruised around Gotham City in. The resulting urban assault vehicle was a site to behold.

I came across another movie-related gem that made me think of metal fabricating as I was doing some quick research on lasers. I was on Wikipedia and found this tidbit on the famous scene from Goldfinger (1964) where Auric Goldfinger has programmed a machine to send a laser right through James Bond"s crown jewels as he"s strapped to a table.

Here"s what Wikipedia says about the scene: The director Guy Hamilton found that a real laser beam would not show up on camera, so it was added as an optical effect. The table was precut up the middle and coated with gold paint,
while the melting effect was achieved by a man below the table with an oxyacetylene torch. Goldfinger's laser makes
a whirring electronic sound, while a real laser would have produced a fairly heat-free and silent cut.

Of course, any fabricator that runs a laser cutting machine could have made some of those points and probably has during a viewing of Goldfinger. I"ll remember to do the same thing the next time Spike is running its James Bond
marathon. When my wife wants to change the channel, I"ll remind her I"m doing this for work—you know, collecting facts to share with the next generation of metal fabricating"s work force.

Dan Davis

Dan Davis

FMA Communications Inc.
2135 Point Blvd
Elgin, IL 60123
Phone: 815-227-8281