Fabtech 2014 forum promotes less labor, more quality in fabrication equipment

Jan. 6, 2015
Drawing 30,250-plus visitors from more than 70 nations, annual exposition brings industry ingenuity to Atlanta GA

LABOR-SAVING and quality-enhancing equipment was in abundance at the annual Fabtech expo, held this year at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.

More than 30,250 attendees from over 70 countries attended FABTECH 2014. During the three-day expo, attendees visited 1,477 exhibitors to see live equipment demonstrations - including hundreds of new technologies - and compare products side-by-side to find cost-saving solutions. The exhibits covered more than 550,000 net square feet. Attendees also benefited from the FABTECH educational conference that included expert-led sessions on some of the hottest topics in manufacturing.

Fabtech is sponsored by the SME, the American Welding Society, the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International, the Precision Metalforming Association, and the Chemical Coaters Association International). 

Next year’s event will be held in Chicago on November 9-12, 2015. Additionally, the sponsors also will hold FABTECH Mexico in Monterrey, Mexico May 5-7, 2015.

Here is a sample of what visitors saw at Fabtech 2014:

New automated cutting machine. ESAB Cutting Systems introduces SGX, a compact, automated cutting machine for plasma and oxy-fuel cutting. ESAB’s SGX carries up to three tool stations, including up to two oxy-fuel torches and one plasma station. Advanced features include a touch-screen CNC with built-in automatic nesting, as well as automatic gas controls and plasma automation powered by m3 Plasma technology.

The SGX offers rapid cut-to-cut cycle times through the integration of dual-side, high-speed AC drives and a fast torch lifter. The compact design of the SGX cutting machine minimizes floor space requirements. One-meter rail increments keep the footprint small to maximize production space.

SGX is available in sizes to cover plates up to 2500 mm (8 ft.) wide, and up to two 6000 mm (20 ft) plates end-to-end. ESAB’s newest cutting system is offered with a choice of downdraft tables or water tables for dry or under-water plasma cutting. www.esab-cutting.com/sgx.

Ready to weld aluminum. Using this sample of an aluminum trailer sidewall, Lincoln Electric demonstrated its integrated aluminum welding packages. The power source, designed for DC but capable of running on AC, provides a variety of processes in one machine. Match that with an aluminum wire feeder and the company’s Gem Pak bulk wire, the system can be set up quickly to begin welding. The recently introduced Gem Pak bulk wire container can keep the aluminum wire flowing smoothly, relying on the weight of a layer of plastic “gems” to manage the decoiling of the wire so that it does not kink.

Lincoln also announced that it has acquired Easom Automation Systems, Inc., a privately held integrator and manufacturer of automation and positioning solutions, serving heavy fabrication, aerospace and automotive OEMs and suppliers.

Easom Automation Systems, Inc., with headquarters and operations in Detroit, has annual sales of approximately $30 million. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.


Tank welding made simple. The Lincoln Electric Company introduced the RoboTank robotic tank welding system for fabricators producing tanks and vessels for the energy, automotive and heavy equipment industries. This new robotic welding system can be used to fabricate most tank designs and includes tooling used to properly present the weld joints to the robot.

Vision tracking software can detect plate and weld joint locations and use that information to accurately place and hold various parts for welding. Offset information from one vision-equipped robot can be transferred to other robots within the cell. Laser tracking equipment can be used to assist in locating and tracking circumferential and longitudinal weld joints.

Additionally, RoboTank is versatile enough to accept multiple material types. Aluminum to steel changeovers are quick when utilizing a servo-driven welding gun and Lincoln Electric’s Power Wave R500 welding power source used in conjunction with the Advanced Module used to extend the system’s capabilities.

When developing a customized tank or vessel solution for each customer, the company provides robotic welding tank demonstrations at its facilities in Cleveland or at the customer’s site at no cost. www.lincolnelectric.com

World’s fastest laser. The Whitney division of MegaFab claims to have the world’s fastest laser. Equipped with up to six kilowatts of power, the laser can accelerate to 6 G. Tables up to 13 x 100’ are available. www.megafab.com
Keeping it Klean. The new Klean Sweep automatic slag removal table is designed to take care of the dross associated with laser, plasma, and oxy-fuel cutting operations. Developed by Koike Aronson/Ransome specifically for the company’s Versagraph cutting machine, it also can be used on other machines, too. The Klean Sweep self-cleaning cutting table removes slag without requiring production to stop. www.koike.com
Keeping cool, breathing easy. The folks at RoboVent have come up with an interesting combination—integrating dust collection and air conditioning. The new RoboVent Ice first cleans the air and then sends the filtered air across the cooling coil. Because the air has been filtered first, there is virtually no need to clean the coil.

Two configurations are available. The RoboVent Vortex Ice has no ductwork, relying instead on a series of adjustable vents to direct airflow in much the same way as the vents on an automobile dashboard. The RoboVent Fusion 3 Ice distributes cooled air through air ducts.

Other than being part dust-collection system, the RoboVent Ice functions like a typical industrial air conditioning system. The condenser coil is mounted on the roof of the building, with cooling lines connecting it to the Ice unit. www.robovent.com

Water as a shielding gas. Thermal Dynamics is using water in its plasma cutting system to reduce consumable costs while producing cuts that require no secondary processing. When cutting stainless steel, J P Kinos explains, nitrogen is the best choice for plasma gas, while a mist of tap water is used as the shielding gas.

The company also promoted its new controller. While designed for its own equipment, the controller also can be used on equipment built by other manufacturers.

Lightweight inverter. ESAB Welding & Cutting Products has added Aristo Mig 4004i Pulse power source to the Aristo family of welding equipment. Using the latest inverter technology, the new Aristo Mig 4004i Pulse can be matched up with the Aristo Feed 3004 or 4804 wire feeder.

The Aristo® Mig 4004i Pulse displayed at Fabtech can be used for MIG, pulsed MIG, MAG, MMA or TIG (LiveTig™) welding. The pulse function makes the Aristo® Mig 4004i Pulse suitable for advanced, spatter-free welding in aluminum and stainless steel.

The inverter-based power source is greater than 25 percent more energy efficient than conventional welding equipment, weighs 70 percent less than comparable units and has a footprint that is 80 percent smaller, according to ESAB. www.esabna.com

Choice of voltage. ESAB Welding & Cutting Products introduce a multi-process welding machine with 230V 3-phase or 460V three-phase power.

Warrior 400i MV is designed for GMAW (MIG/MAG), FCAW (flux-cored), stick, and TIG welding. The Warrior 400i MV was demonstrated with the new MobileFeed 201AVS. ESAB’s latest wire feeder is powered off the arc, so no control cables are required. It extends welding reach, moving wire feeding farther away from the power source. www.esabna.com/warrior.

Big capabilities in a smaller package. The new Dimension 650 multiprocess welder from Miller Electric Mfg Co provides power-intensive output for heavy welding as well as precision arc characteristics designed for thin-metal welding.

The machine, packaged in an all-aluminum case, protects against “dirty power” commonly found on jobs, preventing power fluctuations from affecting performance or reliability.

Compared to the legacy Dimension 652, the new Dimension 650 is 3-1/2 times lighter, has a 40% smaller footprint, and uses 32% less power. www.millerwelds.com

Zipper welder. Technically, no, this automated welding carriage is not intended to weld zippers, but it can simplify the process of welding tanks. The system is composed of two components—box rail assembly with carriage and the modular drive tractor. Bug-O Systems offers 8-ft and 10-ft box rail assemblies for the carriage to travel. www.bugo.com
Automated cutting. The new HBE Series automated saws from Behringer are designed to provide automated cutting at a price that is lower than anticipated. Features include cast iron components for reduced vibration, inclined band wheels that extend blade life, electrically driven chip brush, and automatic cutting pressure control. www.behringersaws.com
Holding steady. Hydraulic hold-downs are now available on select Geka ironworkers, according to Geka’s Jvier Gomez and Don Letourneau of Comeq. The hold-downs can be used to keep material secure when shearing plate or angle. www.comeq.com
Quick cuts. The Messer Metal Master XCell features a fast (.5-g) acceleration speed. The MetalMaster Xcel is two machines in one—a plasma/fiber laser combination. This can increase productivity by making critical cuts with the fiber laser and less critical cuts with the plasma torch—all without moving the part to another piece of equipment. www.messer-cs.com/us
Horizontal press from Edwards Manufacturing can generate 15 tons of force. It accepts a variety of tooling that enables it to form, shear, brake, straighten, and punch mild steel. A digital encoder makes to possible to fabricate within 0.01” repeatability. Jordan Loehr demonstrates. www.edwardsironworkers.com
Powerful uppercut. Jerry Kroetch demonstrates the SUP 500 cold saw available from Scotchman Industries. The upcut saw cuts precise miters in nonferrous metals. The saw can make 45° cuts in 4 ¾-inch square material or 5 ¾” x 4 ¾” stock. The safety hood contains a safety switch that will not allow the saw to operate when the hood is open. www.scotchman.com
About the Author

Bruce Sauer | Editor

Bruce Sauer has been writing about the truck trailer, truck body and truck equipment industries since joining Trailer/Body Builders as an associate editor in 1974. During his career at Trailer/Body Builders, he has served as the magazine's managing editor and executive editor before being named editor of the magazine in 1999. He holds a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin.