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FABTECH Keeps the Heat On

Alan Rooks
By Alan Rooks Editor in Chief, Manufacturing Engineering

FABTECH is coming to my home town, Chicago, and I’m looking forward to it. Along with IMTS and EMO, it’s one of the top-shelf manufacturing trade shows and it’s big enough to keep people coming back every year to see new technology, get educated and network with their peers. The show moves around a bit. After being in Chicago, the next year it is in Las Vegas, then back to Chicago, then off to Atlanta, and then back to Chicago. Got that?

Anyway, I’ll be at McCormick Place in Chicago for FABTECH Nov. 11-14, along with thousands of others. In the meantime, please enjoy the outstanding fabrication technology coverage we’ve prepared for you in this issue.

In “Adapting Metal Cutting to Higher Power, Higher-Speed Lasers” on page 52, Senior Technical Editor Bruce Morey notes that increasing laser power is easy, but that consideration must be given to the effect that has on peripherals, beam delivery, cutting gas delivery, and automation.

He adds that the market is becoming dominated by the newer solid-state fiber laser over its CO2 gas rival. Fiber’s advantages in ease of operation, packaging and efficiency are clear. Also, he explores why there is a need for the speed from higher power lasers, especially when cutting metals with thicknesses below 1" (25.4 mm).

Laser is a high-heat technology, but cool can also be the rule in metalcutting. In his feature on page 60, Contributing Editor Pat Waurzyniak takes on the high-tech improvements in waterjet machining, noting that abrasive waterjet machining technologies promise fast, clean cutting with cutting stream pressures approaching 100,000 psi. Some of the latest waterjets on the market add newer software intelligence that helps users easily monitor and calibrate machining performance with new machines that offer better uptime on more reliable waterjet systems.

In welding, a key choice is traditional technology or laser technology. In his feature on page 70, Contributing Editor Ed Sinkora states that with much faster processing speeds and higher quality, you might think laser welding would quickly take over the field. But traditional welding hangs on, and for several reasons it may never go away. In his feature, Ed sorts out the pros and cons of each method that continue to result in a mixed market.

EDM, another key fabrication technology, has been around for a long time—which makes it strange that it’s still called “non-traditional” machining by some. In “EDM Performance Up, Manufacturing Costs Down” on page 78, Contributing Editor Jim Lorincz examines how advanced EDM technology is putting more and better parts in part bins faster than ever before.

EDM builders continue to make improvements by increasing operating speeds, reducing wire consumption, improving auto threading for lights-out operation and improving spark generation.

So that’s our fabulous fabrication feature lineup for your reading pleasure. See you at FABTECH!

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