Following a European trend, hydraulic ironworkers emerged that
had these additional functions fully
integrated. Fabricators didn’t have to
worry about switching out components. They could have the punch,
flat bar shear, rod shear, rectangle
notcher, and angle shear all built into
one machine. Depending on the ironworker model, a fabricator also could
see one of the functions replaced with
a redundant function, such as another punch, or with something di;erent,
such as a press brake or pipe notcher.
Fabricators, of course, have always
been interested in cost savings, so
that led to the creation of dual-oper-ator models. Originally, the ironworkers’ hydraulic system supplied power
to only one function at a time. Down
the line, manufacturers engineered
the hydraulic systems to allow for two
functions to operate at the same time,
allowing a fabricator to purchase one
machine, instead of two, and double
productivity compared to a one-func-tion-at-a-time ironworker.
Over the past several years, fabricators also have seen the addition of
programmable stop systems applied
to ironworkers (see Figure 4). More
commonly used on saws, these belt-driven, computer-controlled systems
move material to specific lengths in
between fabricating activities on the
ironworker. For example, such a system can be programmed to punch
10 holes in a 10-;. part, and once the
locations are programmed into the
controller, the machine completes
the job without operator interference.
This eliminates the need for the operator to mark the individual holes
and move the part himself in between
punches, making for a more e;icient
Like most ironworkers, this model has
punch, angle shear, flat bar shear, and
rectangular notching capability. It even
has a fi;h station capable of housing a
pipe notcher, if a fabricator requested
such an option.
This sort of automation really stands out when the
hole locations do not follow a distinct pattern. With variation comes an increased chance of rework if a human is
involved. Computer-controlled punching jobs boost the
quality level of these types of parts.
The Ironworker’s Future
What does the future hold for this venerable piece of equip-
ment? The hydraulic-powered ironworker’s versatility has
enabled it to remain a viable tool even as manufacturing
in the U.S. has moved from high-volume production to
more high-mix, low-volume scenarios. If ironworkers can
remain relevant a;er that type of shi;, that bodes well for
the tool’s future.
All you have to do is look at where ironworkers are used.
They remain the only fabricating machine tool that can be
found in the third story of New York’s Metropolitan Opera
House, where they build set pieces, and also in the maintenance shops of the world’s largest automotive manufacturers. They have evolved to meet the fabricating needs
of modern manufacturers, no matter where they might be
or what they might do, and that likely will be the story 50
years from now as well.
Mike Albrecht is national sales manager, Scotchman Industries
Inc., 800-843-8844, www.scotchman.com.
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Call Toll Free 1-800-843-8844 or Call Direct 605-859-2542 • Fax 1-800-843-5545 or 605-859-2499
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Our component style Ironworker offers more options and accessories to keep
costs down and productivity and profits up! Models available from 45 to 150 ton.
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