Tag Archives: future

  • Snapshot of the Future of Metal Fabrication

    Snapshot of the Future of Metal Fabrication
    By: Monica Gomez

    Anyone who wants to know where career possibilities exist, as well as where their current job is going, would benefit from paying attention to industry forecasts; the industry of metal fabrication is no exception. The metal product industry has been going through quite a bit of change over the last decade, reinventing itself quite a bit after significant changes occurred in the 1980s and 1990s, which reduced the number of mass production assembly plants nationwide. Today’s industry is often managed by smaller outfits that operate with far more nimble programs and functions, that take on quite a bit more of custom work, and that are spread out in far more places geographically. Let’s take a look forward to see where the industry might be headed.
    Recycled Metal

    One of the first big trends that appeared (and that continues to grow) is the use of recycled metal. Where recycled metal was once may be 10 or 20 percent of supply, today it makes up more than half of the material used, up to 60 percent. That means there are jobs and careers on both sides of the recycling picture, from sourcing material to be recycled to those consuming it and recreating used metal into new products and constructs.

    At some point this figure will likely increase more, but the general demand for metal still far outpaces what is available from recycled sources. So there will continue to be some portion of new virgin metal supply provided. That said, understanding how to source, work with, and manipulate recycled metal is here to stay, especially as companies find themselves sourcing from farther and farther away for new raw supply.
    Steel

    In terms of actual product manufacturing, steel is still a hot commodity and has a healthy demand. This is expected to continue going forward because nothing has been produced so far that would replace the function and purpose of steel on a broad scale. Granted, there have been some interesting inventions with carbon fiber, aluminum and other materials, but steel remains the main building product for infrastructure strength and framework. In fact, steel has been booming in architectural design due to desire for a neo-modern appearance. Naked interiors of rooms and building showing the structural framework have been very popular in new building lobbies, restaurants and more.
    3D Printing & Technology

    On the production process side of metal manufacturing, technology is king. Knowing the various tools, software, types of systems applied, and how new tools are being invented for automated assembly is key. Those seeking to reinvent their career or start a new one in metal manufacturing will be well served to become as much of a related tech guru as possible. Computers and robot assembly have already established themselves as the replacement for hand labor in large facilities. These same tools are now starting to make inroads to medium and smaller facilities because the cost of the technology is coming down, making it far more affordable. 3D printing allows users to expand the realm of possibilities and could also potentially cut costs and manufacturing time, writes weldingschool.com. 3D printing trends mean there will be a growing demand for those who know how to run and operate such equipment and software.
    Worldly Knowledge

    Finally, the metal fabrication world and related markets are becoming more and more global. Having knowledge of other languages and cultures will go a long way for anyone looking to not just be in fabrication, but manage it from an international customer perspective. This includes remote quality control, sales, manufacturing training, multi-vendor supply system management, and more. The ability to work with different people in different time zones will become more and more important, especially as much of communication is changing to a round-the-clock status in terms of working with people and exchanging information.

    So, metal fabrication isn't going anywhere. Instead, the industry is healthy and will continue to see demand in the future, but it will require far more technical knowledge with a heavy reliance on technology for accuracy and engineering.

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  • Guess Where They Found The "Back to the Future" Truck?

    The 1985 Toyota Xtra Cab 4X4 truck being driven by Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly, in "Back to the Future". (Photo courtesy http://www.imcdb.org)

    If you saw the second and third "Back to the Future" movies, you likely remember the celebrated DeLorean car that was used in the pictures. But there were other vehicles in the films too. Michael J. Fox's character, Marty McFly, drove a 1985 Toyota Xtra Cab 4X4 truck in those movies, and it's that truck that will be undergoing a restoration soon.

    According to the Time Machine Restoration Company, the Toyota was stolen many years ago, and was recently recovered by the Mexican federal police. The car was auctioned off, and the company, already restoring the movie's iconic DeLorean, got the truck too.

    It's not clear what the vehicle was doing in Mexico, or why the Mexico federal police were involved, but there's no question that it's the actual car. There was a note written on the passenger-side sun visor that read, "Keith, Many thanks. See you on something else I'm sure—Michael J. Fox."

    http://www.chron.com

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  • Keep this in mind in 32 years- Ford To Make Aluminum F-150 Trucks

    In 2044, when you (or your child) is looking for an "antique" 2014 Ford F-150 pickup to restore, don't be surprised if the body panels are largely aluminum, not steel.

    But this is a Ford! This is a Truck! How can they do that? Well, thanks to Washington's latest fuel-economy regulations, Ford is working on switching from steel to aluminum to reduce the weight of its F-150 by about 700 lbs. (about 15% of its current weight). By cutting that weight, trucks can go farther on a gallon of gas, and it could also lead to smaller engines, further boosting fuel economy.

    But will you, a potential customer, go along with this drastic change? Will the most popular truck in the U.S. be as safe and durable as we expect from a Ford F-150 pickup? There's a lot at stake here, considering the F-150 is one of the most profitable vehicle lines in the world, and it's outsold every other vehicle in the U.S. since 1982.

    There are also a few interesting manufacturing problems that Ford has to deal with. Since aluminum is not magnetic, they'll need to invest in powerful, power-hungry vacuums to transfer the aluminum sheets within the factory, instead of the giant magnets they now use on steel. Aluminum is also "springier" than steel when pressed, is more likely to tear if pressed too quickly, and it scratches more easily.

    But Ford engineers continue to work on the first prototypes, so I think I'll reserve judgment on the 2014s until I can actually drive one. Sure hope their "Built Ford Tough" slogan will still apply!

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