FABTECH 2015 gave manufacturers a good idea of state-of-the-art manufacturing technology, along with a glimpse of what to expect in the years to come.

Software played a dominant role in this year’s exhibits, especially for machine tools that operate with minimal manual input.

Additionally, the show served as the venue for the “Best Welder in America” contest. Winners included: Aaron Oetken, a self-employed welder/fabricator from Mediapolis, Iowa; Tom Ruge, a student at Gateway Technical College, Racine, Wisconsin; and Andrew Miller, a welding engineer with Caterpillar from Dunlap, Illinois.

In all, 1,700 exhibiting companies showed their wares. The event, held November 9-12 at McCormick Place in Chicago, attracted 43,836 attendees from more than 90 countries. Here is a sample of what they saw:

 

Multiple products, multi-process. With the acquisition of multiple companies such as Wolf Robotics, Tennessee Rand, and Esom Automation, the Lincoln display had plenty to talk about.

Lincoln’s new Flextec 350X is a rugged, multi-process power source for flexibility and harsh environments. It handles all wire, DC stick and DC TIG processes and is compatible with multiple wire-feeder types, including across-the-arc, analog, digital or CrossLinc wire feeders. CrossLinc technology uses a proprietary communication protocol to maintain voltage control at the feeder, while eliminating an extra cable. The result is greater safety, quality and productivity.

With an output range of 5 to 500 amps, the Flextec 350X is rated at 450 amps, 38 volts at 60 percent duty cycle or 400 amps, 36 volts at 100 percent duty cycle. Lightweight and portable, the compact new model weighs only 77 pounds.

The company also introduced its Process Z for welding galvanized materials. The process involves reducing weld porosity while maintaining rapid travel speeds. Operators may use standard, constant-voltage power sources running DC-negative polarity to achieve higher travel speeds and lower porosity compared to solid wire. Or, they can push throughput and quality to the maximum by combining Metalshield Z with Lincoln Electric’s Power Wave advanced process welding power sources. The company’s Rapid Z waveform, tailored for zinc applications, can push travel speeds beyond 55 inches per minute, with zero surface porosity, and less than 1 percent internal porosity. www.lincolnelectric.com

 

Fixture from a trailer manufacturer. The WeldPro 360 MIG welding boom is the product of a trailer manufacturer who wanted a better way to position welding guns. His answer was this boom that provides 360° coverage. The double-articulating boom, combined with a fully rotating pedestal mount, provides a wide range of positioning flexibility.

Beyond the positioning, the WeldPro connects to a manufacturer’s network to capture data that can be analyzed to give companies a better idea of weld costs and productivity. Designed to integrate with Lincoln power supplies and software, the WeldPro 360 offers eight preset welding schedules, any of which can be selected by clicking the trigger on the weld gun.

It is a product of Anderson Industries in Adelanto, California. They company also manufactures gooseneck and tag trailers. www.andersenmp.com

 

Rebel arrives. ESAB revealed its new Rebel, a multi-process welding system that provides industrial quality arc performance in a compact and portable package.

The Rebel EMP 215ic, a 120V-230V, CC/CV welding system also offers location flexibility, lightweight portability and a new operator interface. The sMIG (“smart MIG”) function enables users to begin MIG welding just by setting metal thickness and wire diameter. There is no need to enter information for shielding gas mix.

The Rebel can be used for MIG, flux-cored, lift TIG and stick welding. It has two operating modes, basic and advanced, that make welding easy for beginners or lets those with more experience fine-tune parameters.

Operators interact with the Rebel using a control that combines traditional weld parameter adjustments with the functionality of a smart phone.

The Rebel accepts 4- and 8-inch diameter wire spools, runs .023- to .035-inch diameter wires and enables users to switch from 230V to 120V primary power simply by connecting the supplied adapter plug. www.esab.com

 

Heads and tails. Red-D-Arc demonstrated how this 10-ton capacity head stock and tail stock positioner can make welding this aluminum dump body a little easier. It provides a vertical lift as well as rotation. A 1.1-kW motor provides the power. www.red-d-arc.com

 

Smoke in the cloud. RoboVent demonstrated its cloud-based system for managing dust and smoke collection. Want to see if your filter needs cleaning, but you are on the beach in Hawaii? RoboVent’s eTell intelligent controls enable managers to monitor fume extraction at multiple locations through a single application that runs on a smartphone. The software learns and adjust fume-extraction systems in real time. It can provide weekly or monthly reports that indicates how much life is left in filters and when maintenance should be performed. www.robovent.com

 

 

Cut apart or weld together. Bug-O-Systems displayed its Go-fer III welding tractor that can weld or cut with either plasma or oxy-fuel. For cutting applications, the Go-fer can travel at up to 100 inches per minute. It is designed to accept any style welding gun and standard 1 3/8-inch cutting torch. A radius cutting kit is available to cut holes as small as eight inches or as large as 98 inches. www.bugo.com

 

 

 

Capturing data. Miller Electric has expanded its welding information management software to multiple power sources, including the Continuum advanced MIG welder and Dynasty 280 DX TIG welder. The company promoted its Insight Core data capturing system which monitors, collects and rapidly transmits electronic weld data to any Web-connected device. This enables management to identify areas that can be targeted for improvement. Insight Core is a web-based welding information system. Insight Centerpoint, which offers real-time operator feedback and process controls, has been upgraded to Centerpoint 9.0 software. This software offers feature improvements, such as a new Library Manager tool that better organizes weldment drawings and photos, and a more visual dashboard layout with speedometer-style performance indicators. Insight Centerpoint 9.0 also offers a persistent operating system that automatically picks up in sequence where the operator left off, following a power cycle. In addition, ARCAgent, from the recent IMPACT Engineering acquisition, allows customers with mixed power source fleets to implement Welding Intelligence solutions on non-Miller machines. www.millerwelds.com

 

Fiber laser. The Whitney 6g Fiber Laser Cutting Machine Tool is designed for high speed laser cutting. It comes with polymer granite base, carbon fiber bridge, and linear drive motors provide a stable platform that can handle up to 6g of acceleration and positioning speeds of up to 9,843 inches per minute. Its 12kW of fiber laser power and the Whitney Rapid-Pierce technology can cut up to 1” plate. Linear drive motors offer positioning speeds of up to 9,843 inches per minute and positioning accuracy of ±0.001”. www.megafab.com

 

‚ÄčKoike cuts with water. Known for its weld positioners and CNC, plasma, and oxy-fuel cutting machines, Koike Aronson/Ransome displayed something different—the Koikejet E60 waterjet cutting system. Capable of cutting the standard materials used in truck body and trailer manufacturing, the Koikejet E Series also cuts nonmetals such as plastics and wood. It can cut up to 300 inches per minute within +/- .005 inches repeatability. It comes with Hypertherm’s Edge Pro Ti controller, a Windows-based system that includes touch screen, two USB ports, part program support, wireless networking, along with cutting and nesting software. The Hypertherm HyPrecision waterjet pump generates 60,000 psi. www.koike.com

 

Let the robot do it. The HG ARs is a fully-integrated robotic bending system. It includes a six-axis robot, automatic gripper changer (AGC), and automatic tool changer (ATC) with patented Amada tooling. Each stage of the bending process, including tool loading, gripper exchange, and robotic bending are all performed with high levels of unmanned machine productivity. The HG ARs supports workpieces up to 39.3” x 31.4” and has a weight capacity of 44 lbs. Four tool manipulators quickly load tooling from 15 punch stockers and 18 die stockers. Each stocker can hold 31.5” in tooling which brings the ATC’s tool capacity to over 86 feet. During bending, a potentiometer backgauge system with additional side gauge also compensates for any deviation when the workpiece is placed on the die. These compensating machine characteristics ensure that parts are produced consistently and with maximum accuracy. It is available from Amada America, Buena Park CA. www.amada.com

 

Powerful punch. The Bendicrop 85 SD from Comeq is a CNC ironworker that packs a punch—95 tons. As a result, it has the muscle to handle 5” x 5” x 3/8” angle or 18” x 5/8” plate. It also has a 8” x ½” bending station. Other features include 20” throat, hydraulic plate and angle clamping, and controller mounted on a swing arm. Don Letourneau demonstrates for Comeq, White Marsh MD. www.comeq.com

 

Quick uppercut. Scotchman Industries introduced this upcut saw. By coming up from below the table instead of down from above, safety is improved, says Michael Robbins. The saw can handle 20-inch blades. The GAA-500-90 saw has powered hood lift, adjustable cutting and feed speeds, and is mounted on a base designed to collect the chips generated by cutting aluminum. www.scotchman.com

 

Bending flexibility. The TruBend Center 5030 is capable of bending parts as long as 123 inches or as short as three inches. Designed for a high degree of automation, the 5030 comes with automated tool changer, two-axis part manipulator, horn blank holders, auxiliary blank holder tool, and auxiliary bending tool. It is a product of Trumpf Inc. www.us.trumpf.com

 

Automated aluminum cutting. The TigerSaw 2000 from TigerStop is a fully automated cross-cutting saw system with an adjustable cutting envelope, pneumatic clamping and a patent-pending, innovative lube mister. Made in the United States, the TigerSaw 2000 pairs a 17.7” saw with a pusher system that ensures finished-part cut quality. It incorporates automated lineal cutting software and crayon marking of defects. The adjustable cutting envelope can accommodate various saw blade sizes from 350mm to 500mm, pneumatic clamping for handling delicate material, and a patent-pending lube misting system which follows the blade to deliver lubrication at the cut point. Melissa Covel programs the saw using the touchscreen. www.tigerstop.com

 

Under control. The new CNC 600 from Automec Inc is designed to work with the full range of Automec backgauges. The high-resolution touchscreen makes for easy input, but it also can be programmed offline or through USB input. Bill Helinski is shown entering data via the touchscreen. Automec Inc, Waltham MA. www.automec.com

 

Cut and flange. Cole-Tuve Inc displayed this combination flanging and circle shear. Available in two models, the SDK-6 can handle ¼-inch material, while the SDK-8 can fabricate 5/15-inch steel. Built in Turkey by Sahinler Metal Makine Endustri, it is available in the U S from Cole-Tuve, White Marsh MD. www.coletuve.com

 

 

 

 

 

BAAM. It’s printed. Cincinnati turned a few heads at Fabtech by creating this Shelby Cobra with a three-dimensional printer. BAAM (Big Area Additive Manufacturing) is an industrial sized, additive machine. The machine uses technology from Cincinnati’s laser platform, including the machine frame, motion system, and control, and has been adapted with an extruder and feeding system. BAAM was designed to allow 3-D printing to be used for production manufacturing.

The size and speed allow large parts to be made quickly. The ability to use commodity thermoplastic materials means that the cost per part will be reasonable. By designing a system with an open architecture for material vendors, material costs will be kept lower and with more options. www.e-ci.com

 

Find the Fabtech Report archive with articles from 2012 to present