Making fabrication easier

Dec. 1, 2005
MORE than 24,000 people viewed the latest products designed to improve productivity and quality of fabrication operations. Attendance at the 2005 FABTECH

MORE than 24,000 people viewed the latest products designed to improve productivity and quality of fabrication operations.

Attendance at the 2005 FABTECH International & AWS Welding Show recently concluded in Chicago was up 30% from two years ago. Apparently, they were in a buying mood. From the first day of the show, sold signs began appearing on the machinery on display, and the signs grew more numerous each day.

Hundreds of attendees took advantage of free lunchtime business seminars held each day on such subjects as job shop marketing, shop floor motivation, and pricing strategies.

The show is cosponsored by the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association (FMA), the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), and the American Welding Society (AWS).

The event has been conducted at McCormick Place in Chicago and the I-X exhibition center in Cleveland in alternating years. However, the 2006 edition of will move to the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia for the first time. The show is scheduled for October 31 - November 2. More than 85% of the available exhibit space for 2006 has already been sold.

Here are highlights of products that could be used in truck body and trailer manufacturing facilities:

New plasma-cutting option. The Hypertherm HPR260 plasma option is now available on Whitney's Advantage plasma cutting tables. The option also is offered on all models of combination hydraulic punch/plasma cutting machines, including the 3400XP, 3700SST, and 4400MAX. Advantages include improved edge quality, 20% faster cutting speeds, and etching capability. W A Whitney Co, Rockford IL.

Combination punch and laser debuted at the Trumpf booth. The TC 300 L combination machine combines a 2,000-watt diffusion-cooled TCF 1 laser and hydraulic punching head to reduce secondary operations and save time and handling costs. Trumpf Inc, Farmington CT.

AC power. Turret punch press uses an AC servo motor that consumes power only during the punching process. The Motorum-2044EZ has a 22-ton capacity, making it capable of processing 1/4-inch steel. It can handle 1250 mm × 1250 mm (49.2" × 49.2") sheet without repositioning. The servo motor generates a hit rate of 220 hits per minute for punching and 600 hits per minute for nibbling. Punching accuracy is +/- 0.004". It is available from Murata Machinery USA, Charlotte NC.

Big punch, small package. The Compact punching machine is designed to punch, nibble, form, mark, and tap without taking up much floor space. It offers 360-degree rotation of all tools, the ability to punch material up to 12.7 mm (half-inch) thick, and a turret that can hold six tools with diameters of up to 16 mm (063 inches). Produced in Lörrach, Germany, the Compact is available from Boschert Precision Machinery, Butler WI.

Use power, save electricity. The EMK3610NT punch press from Amada America has a drive system designed to use less power per stroke. It does so through the use of two AC-servo motors directly connected to the ram through an eccentric shaft. The drive system also includes a pwer storage device that stores energy at the end of each stroke for use in starting the next cycle. The result, according to Amada, is a 60% reduction in power consumption compared with conventional machines. It is available from Amada America, Buena Park CA.

Processing Powerhaus. Punching, high-speed drilling, and cutting (plasma or oxy-fuel) can all be done with the new Powerhaus plate processing center from Peddinghaus Corporation, Bradley IL. The FPDB 1800/3 machine processes flat bar and plate stock from ¼" to 3" thick, and up to 72" wide and 20 feet long. Multiple hole diameters can be punched or drilled, and then irregular shapes burned with plasma or oxy-fuel — all with minimal material handling. A software package is included to provide full nesting capability.

Six-tool turret enables multiple processes on a single machine. Adaptable to most cutting tables, the turret provides drilling and tapping operations in addition to standard plasma or oxy-fuel cutting operations. Built in New Zealand, it available in the U S through Kinetic Cutting Systems, Fort Collins CO.

Entering the market. After manufacturing other machine tools for years, W A Whitney introduced its line of press brakes at Fabtech. The company's ProBEND press brakes were developed jointly by Whitney and Piranha. Combining Whitney's background in electronics and Piranha's experience with press brakes, the two companies have produced press brakes that feature Y1/Y2 synchronized hydraulic cylinders that give repeatable bed parallelism to 0.0004", along with .graphical CNC controls that visualize the bend.

MetalMaster Plus is a new offering from MG Systems and Welding, Menomonee Falls WI. The machine is propelled in all three axes by backlash-free rack and pinion servo motors driven through planetary gear reducers. Maximum acceleration rate is 38 inches per second per second. Travel speeds are up to 1,200 inches per minute.

Bevel cutting is now possible on the Versagraph Millennium Series cutting tables from Koike Aronson Inc, Arcade NY. The 3-D link attachment provides 360° continuous rotation without winding up the leads to the plasma torch.

New press brakes from Trumpf Inc are designed as entry-level machines. The C Series press brakes are equipped with many of Trumpf's more expensive models in a package intended for customers who have more basic needs. The C Series press brakes include increased bending area, programmable backgauge, four-cylinder ram drive. The C66 model shown here is rated at 73 tons and has an 82-inch bending length. It provides 0.0004-inch repeatability.

Automated welding is simplified with the Torch Retract feature developed by Lincoln Electric, Cleveland OH. Particularly effective for use with robotic welding of aluminum, the process starts with the establishment of an arc. The arc then retreats approximately 1 mm before the weld schedule begins. At the end of the weld schedule, the wire feed is reduced in order to fill the crater. The tip of the weld wire is then cleaned by burning it back so that it is ready for the next cycle. Brian Simons displays a sample of the weld wire with a Fanuc robot in the background.

Out of position? The Mini Vert battery powered welding carriage can be used for horizontal or vertical out-of-position welding. Also is the Buggy automatic fillet welder that provides continuous or intermittent stitch welds on fillet, lap, or butt joints. Both are new products for Bug-O Systems, Pittsburgh PA, says Clay Cable.

You choose. Dimension 452 three-phase welder provides welding output for MIG, stick, DC TIG welding, and air carbon arc gouging. It has a duty cycle of 100 percent at 450 amps/38 volts and an output amperage range of 5 to 500 amps and a voltage range of 10 to 38 volts. The low amperage output provides superior low-end TIG arc control, while the low voltage range provides excellent performance for short circuit MIG welding on thin materials or open root joints with beveled edges. A maximum open circuit voltage of 80 VDC delivers better starting performance for all welding processes. The Dimension welder is a product of Miller Electric Mfg, Appleton WI.

Pushing the envelope. The work envelope of this Wheelabrator shot-blast machine can now be altered by changing the wheels and altering the angles of the shot via CNC control. Wheels have been redesigned so that alignment is no longer needed. The controller now monitors machine performance and maintenance requirements. If it detects the need for a specific maintenance task, it e-mails the plant's maintenance department. If the problem (such as excessive vibration in the number two motor) increases, the controller sends a follow-up e-mail to the maintenance supervisor. The controller also can be programmed to call the supervisor's cell phone.

Also new at Wheelabrator is an online solutions calculator available at the company's web site. The customer or potential customer can do the calculations himself using his own data. Pierre Tanguay explains for Wheelabrator Group, La Grange GA.

A saw that feeds itself. The KBS 400 AND 6 saw can be programmed to pick up a piece of steel and automatically cut the pieces that are required. The saw can cut miters in both directions. It is a product of Kaltenbach Inc, Columbus IN.

A more versatile ironworker. A turret full of tooling allows faster changeover. Simply pull the locking lever, rotate the turret to the desired location, and go to work, says Jerry Koretch, president of Scotchman Industries, Philip SD. The turret shown here is installed on the company's 5014-CM ironworker that can shear a 4" × 4" angle at 90° and a 14" flat bar shear with four-way reversible blade.

A little more punch. Edwards Mfg, Albert Lea MN, has added an additional five tons of punching power to its 55-ton ironworker, the company's best-selling model. The machine offers punching, flat-bar shearing, and angle shearing.

Full features, low price. Piranha's new P-40 ironworker combines a wide range of features with a sales price of under $10,000. Standard capabilities on the P-40 include punching, bending, notching, coping, and shearing angle and round stock. A starter kit of Piranha ironworker tooling, introduced this year, is included with the delivery of each P-40. Piranha, Hutchinson KS.

Show on the road. Drag-Gun portable plasma cutting system is easily transported, yet it can cut up to half-inch thick material. With 208-230 volts of input power, the 57-pound portable plasma produces 15-35 amps. Also on display is the demo truck Thermal Dynamics uses for on-site training and sales presentations. Thermal Dynamics, St Louis MO.

Easy repetition. Tired of the same old task? TigerStop automated positioning system can be installed on saws, drills, punching machines, and other applications to produce consistent, uniform parts from stock up to 30 feet long. It comes with fence, DC servo motor, LCD display, computer interface, and software. The software provides storage for 2,000 different sizes across 99 cut lists. Options include bar code reader, label printing, and program downloading. It is available from TigerStop, Vancouver WA.

Cutting and shaping. New Bendicrop from Comeq Inc, White Marsh MD, adds bending capabilities to the shearing and punching typically done with ironworkers. The bending tool included on the Bendicrop has a maximum capacity of 4" material 3/8" thick. It can shear flat stock up to 14" and angle up to 3" × 3". It also can notch and punch. Don Letourneau demonstrates.