Exploring efficiencies for small to midsized shops
Technology advancement can help fabricators
Many metal fabricators are not unfamiliar with automation and
technology developments in material handling, metal cutting, and
bending. They have seen what can be accomplished with these
advancements and have put them to use in their own shops. They
know the importance of trying to find new efficiencies in the face of
But can they say the same about
welding? Are these shops using old
power sources, and are the welders relying on the same techniques?
Capital Machine Technologies, a machine tool distributor based in Tampa,
Fla., recognizes that finding efficiencies
in the welding process might be good
business for these small to medium-sized fab shops. That’s why it hosted fabricators at its Atlanta Technology Center
Sept. 19-20 for a welding seminar and
has made plans to do the same in early
2018 at its locations in Dallas and Tampa.
In an opening address, Scott Mazzulla, president and CEO, Hobart Institute of Welding Technology, Troy,
Ohio, stressed to the fabricators in attendance that just because the topic of
conversation for the day was technology advancements, they still should be
concerned about attracting and retaining talented welders. Even with robots
becoming easier to program and more
affordable, the best robot technician is
someone with a welding background.
“The robot’s job is to deliver the weld
process, but without an optimal weld
process, there is not going to be a customer,” Mazzulla said.
This is where a welder’s experience
and skill can help out. They understand
the importance of torch angles, work
distance, and arc length when the robotic arm is laying a bead. They can
hear the arc and sense if something is
wrong. They can read a puddle to determine if results are meeting original
expectations. In the end, they can be
taught to program and maintain the robotic equipment, he said.
“A good welder plus robot application
training equals an intelligent technical
welder,” Mazzulla added.
Rob Thompson, CEO, Camtek Software, provided an overview of his company’s fixture-design software. Using
only a 3-D model of a part, the software
creates a fixture design comprised of 2-D
blades, which can be laser-, plasma-,
or waterjet-cut from any sort of metal
stock, that are connected to a mating
base plate. The top profile of each blade
matches the underside of the component at the blade’s insertion position,
creating a sort of cradle onto which the
weldments are placed.
“Fixtures are a necessary evil,”
Thompson said. “We want to make
them easier to make.”
Thompson contended that the soft-
ware can help a shop reduce lead times
for creating fixtures, especially if it
outsources the design and build. If the
Attendees at the Capital Machine Technologies Welding Seminar had the opportunity to test out the latest gas metal arc welding technologies from OTC