Selected articles from September 2011 issue published on TheFabricator.com:
Holloway Houston Inc. uses waterjet cutting to fabricate critical linkages for its extreme testbed that's capable of exerting up to 5,000 tons of pulling force. Any weak link between the workpiece and testbed structure can render the pull test invalid--which is why waterjet cutting components to extremely tight tolerances is so important.
Sales at B&W Trailer Hitches dropped severely during the recession, but the fabricator had no mass layoffs. Instead, workers gave back to the community, fixing and repairing public parks, community centers, even employees’ homes. Judging by the company’s recent performance, such a strategy wasn’t just altruistic. It was good business.
Over the past decade metal folding technology has evolved significantly. Years ago most considered the process optimal only for large, unwieldy workpeices. But with fast, servodriven folding beams that can bend in both the positive and negative direction, the situation has changed dramatically.
Advancements in consumables for the submerged arc welding process have made it possible to increase the strength of welds in wind turbine components while also increasing production efficiency.
Fabricators interested in exploring defense-related contracts need to do some homework before they get started, and they also need to understand that government agents aren’t manufacturing specialists. They buy products, not processes, so fabricators who are accustomed to selling services such as laser or waterjet cutting need to market the products they are capable of making.
Many metal fabricators need new welding talent, especially as they look at new business opportunities and the impending retirements of some of their best workers. Unfortunately, the local trade schools aren't producing enough talented individuals who can step right in and contribute. That's why these businesses are becoming more aggressive in trying that becomes a part of their workforce.
"Lights-out" laser cutting-defined as a machine laser-cutting parts without the need of operator intervention, typically during an unmanned evening shift-can only occur when the cutting head can move around the sheet unencumbered. Advanced nesting software can ensure that "lights-out" remains on.
Metal fabricators reveal that their No. 1 concern is the economy, but that doesn't mean that business is horrible. In fact, fabricators appear to be optimistic about the future.
There's one constant about job shops specializing in high-mix, low-volume manufacturing: change. Changes happen continually, which means schedules must continually adapt. Today, software is allowing job shops to ensure the production schedule reflects reality and, most important, continually adapts.
Columnist Gerald Davis is looking to refine a 3-D model so that it is easier to laser-cut. To do so, he relies on a popular addition to his modeling software package.
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