Selected articles from July 2007 issue published on TheFabricator.com:
The move from manual welding to some form of machine or automated welding has been going on in all industries--including water heater manufacturing--for years. It's part of a desire to improve productivity and quality. A.O. Smith's American Water Heater Div. in Johnson City, Tenn., learned that first-hand.
Increasingly metal fabricators are turning to automated equipment to reduce production downtime and costs, streamline manufacturing, minimize material handling, and address a shortage of skilled labor. Automating punch press operations can range from adding a simple load/unload device to implementing a midlevel material handling system or lights-out production cell to robotics and full tower and storage capabilities. Deciding whether to add automation depends largely on the application.
Stealth Manufacturing Inc., Savage, Minn., is a tube fabricator, and machine tool builder that automated its tube punching, laser cutting, and material handling to improve the efficiency of manufacturing its gas heater tubes and other tubular products.
TPA recently hosted a tour of eight tube and pipe producers and fabricators throughout India. Although the country is not advanced, this tour and a recent report by Goldman Sachs reveal where it stands and where it is likely to go in the near future. Its capabilities are modernizing and Goldman Sachs expects its economy to overtake the U.S. economy by 2050.
When a machine operator cut a bundle of barstock open to load into a saw, the bands popped, moving the blocks that were put there to safely contain the bars. The bars fell on the operator's foot and trapped it. Not wanting to duplicate that nightmare, engineers at Kirsan Engineering, Kenosha, Wis., set about to create a method of loading barstock that relied on lift trucks, not cranes.
Before stainless steel is stamped, bent or folded, and fabricated into an appliance, stampers, other fabricators and coil processors need to do damage control as they process stainless steel coil through 7 damage-danger zones.
While rotary draw bending is the mainstay of the tube bending industry, variable-radius bending is making some headway. Variable-radius bending offers many advantages, primarily more sophisticated bends and faster cycle times. However, it has limitations, too. A main one is that an initial bend must be a minimum of approximately 15 degrees.
ALAW 2007 was held April 17 to 19, in Plymouth, Mich. The second two days of the conference focused on laser technology in automotive research and applications and were geared mostly to manufacturing, production, product design, and R&D engineers.Societal demands driving greater dependence on laser technology are energy and environmental concerns, as well as customization.
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