Hot Sheet
close up of a robotic arm
Cobots have the potential to eliminate complex programming and create a greater degree of flexibility.


Job shops should weigh the pros and cons of automated welding before taking the plunge

National Welding Month (April) was established in 1996 to recognize the industry and its tradespeople. From railcars, electric vehicles, buildings and bridges to truck racks, computers, cell phones and common household items, welding contributes to nearly 70 percent of products manufactured in the U.S. The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 3 percent uptick in job growth for welders over the next decade. Yet the American Welding Society (AWS) predicts a shortage of 300,000 welders by 2024, citing the large number of baby boomers retiring and negative perceptions about the career.

Companies are choosing robotic automation to help bridge the gap. The technology has progressed since the first spot welding robot was introduced in 1962. Today robotic welding is primarily used for high-volume, repetitive processes.

Robotic welding is being used more and more on repetitive work, which frees up welders to apply their skills to higher valued-added jobs.
Zac Bogart
Productive Robotics Inc.
“An industrial robot can support welding processes like MIG or TIG with quality results but it can also be inflexible and unable to adapt to different jobs,” says Zac Bogart, president of Productive Robotics Inc. The company designs and manufactures industrial collaborative robots. The augmented intelligent machines—the OB7, OB7 Stretch model, MAX 8 and MAX 12—are the only U.S.-made 7-axis cobots on the market. A proprietary, “no programming” user interface allows fabricators and job shops to teach the cobot by simply showing it each step of a job.

“Traditional automated systems are good at performing the same task over and over,” he says. “The capital investment though, is just the first step. It can take months to build a cell and weeks to complete installation and get it up and running. Programming is time consuming and requires its own skills. If a part model changes, you are faced with additional programming and tooling.” A job shop may save money on labor but, short term, an automated welding system requires a considerable investment that takes time to recoup.”

Cobots have the potential to eliminate complex programming and introduce a greater degree of flexibility. A plug-and-play seven-jointed cobot can reach angles that are not reachable with a traditional 6-axis cobot. In addition to adjusting and adapting to different tasks, speed matters. In most cases, weld penetration into a base material increases when the travel speed of the weld decreases. Moving too slowly can result in excessive weld deposition. “A teach-by-demonstration cobot may soon have the capability to perform precision welds to a customer’s specifications,” Bogart says. “Without the need for programming, an individual with fewer skills could show the cobot where to weld. We see a lot of potential for cost-efficient cobots in this arena.”

Laser beam welding is growing fastest, followed by resistance welding. The development of sensors to communicate real-time information will be a crucial next step. We see the use of automated welding continuing to grow over the next decade as job shops look for ways to reduce part costs, and improve efficiency and accuracy.”

SMU attracts scores of participants
Port Tampa Bay and Steel Market Update hosted a near-record-level of participants at its Tampa Steel Conference, held in February. The event featured industry experts, economists and global strategists from Cleveland-Cliffs, Steel Manufacturers Association, The Kemmsies Group, Majestic Steel USA, Steel Warehouse and many more. The 34th Annual Tampa Steel Conference will be held Feb. 5-7, 2023.
Headshot of Daniel Carranco
Headshot of Scott Orum

Software firm director celebrated

Global Shop Solutions marked 15 years of service from Daniel Carranco, director of continuous improvement. Carranco oversees customer services including consulting, custom projects and customers’ continuous improvements. He rose through the ranks at the company, holding several roles including operations consultant, project manager and Latin American operations consultant.
Siemens Energy, ZEISS launch on-demand 3D printing platform
MakerVerse, Berlin, is a joint venture initiative between Siemens Energy, ZEISS and financial/venture capital investors. The venture is creating a one-stop fulfillment platform that connects industrial clients with a global network of certified AM suppliers for design prototypes and producing on-demand spare parts. MakerVerse covers the full technological service spectrum, starting with core 3D printing/AM technologies in the initial launch phase and later expanding into further relevant on-demand technologies, such as CNC and injection molding. The platform offers instant quoting, automated manufacturability checks, streamlined supplier and quality management, and industrial-level quality assurance. The public launch of the platform is planned for mid-2022.
Headshot of Mark Dilling
Headshot of Mark Dilling
BLM Group welcomes director
BLM Group USA, Novi, Michigan, appointed Mark Dilling as director of service, responsible for the U.S. and Canada. Dilling is responsible for the development, continuous improvement and delivery of customer service. This role incorporates overseeing machine installation, tech support, training, maintenance and repairs.
Steel Bridge Task Force announces award
William Collins speaking to a group of people in an instruction room
The Steel Bridge Task Force of the American Iron and Steel Institute, the National Steel Bridge Alliance, and the American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials T-14 Technical Committee for Structural Steel Design have selected William Collins, associate professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering at the University of Kansas School of Engineering, as the recipient of the 2022 Robert J. Dexter Memorial Award Lecture. The program was instituted in 2005 in memory of Dexter, an associate professor of civil engineering at the University of Minnesota, who was an internationally recognized expert on steel fracture and fatigue problems in bridges. It provides an opportunity for early-career individuals to present a lecture on their steel bridge research activities to the task force and to participate in its semiannual three-day meeting. Collins will present on his research findings Aug. 11 in Philadelphia.
Fagor supplies carmaker with press line
birds eye view inside a Fagor factory

Fagor Arrasate, Arrasate, Spain, received an order from automaker VinFast to supply a high-speed full-servo press line for its manufacturing complex in Haiphong, Vietnam. This line is made of five servo presses, totaling a pressing force of 73.000 kN, shared between a servo-driven lead-off press of 25.000 kN and four servo presses of 12.000 kN each. It can work with dies of up 5.000 mm by 2.600 mm in each station.

United Grinding receives UX nomination
Customer Oriented REvolution (CORE), a product innovation from the United Grinding Group, Miamisburg, Ohio, was nominated in the UX Design Awards for its outstanding user and customer experience. The UX Design Awards 2022 panel selected it from a pool of 300 submissions across 58 countries. CORE standardizes the operation of all machine tools from the United Grinding Group.
Coating companies to merge
view down the center of a pile of metal tubes
AZZ Inc., Fort Worth, Texas, a provider of galvanizing and metal coating solutions, has agreed to acquire DAAM Galvanizing Co. Ltd., a privately held hot-dip galvanizing company based in Edmonton, Alberta. DAAM operates two galvanizing facilities in Edmonton and in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, plus a service depot in Calgary. Upon closing, AZZ intends to operate the new facilities as AZZ Galvanizing–Edmonton and AZZ Galvanizing–Saskatoon, and make further investments in Calgary to extend AZZ’s ability to support customers in Central and Western Canada.
Headshot of Megan Black
Headshot of Megan Black
MC Machinery adds marketing assistant
Megan Black has joined MC Machinery Systems, Elk Grove Village, Illinois, as creative marketing assistant. She has several years of marketing and graphic design experience.
Columbia Mfg. appoints engineers
Columbia Manufacturing Inc., Columbia, Connecticut, a supplier of precision metal components for turbine engines, hired two engineers to support increasing efforts to develop new parts. Dan Lam, engineering manager, joins CMI with over 35 years of aerospace experience, including with Pratt & Whitney Aircraft. Leo Ostrawski, senior manufacturing engineer, has over 15 years of aerospace engineering experience in production engines as well as overhaul and repair.

Beckwood expands leadership group

left: Rachel Palasky; right: Tony Busch
Beckwood Press Co., St. Louis, has hired Rachel Palasky as engineering manager and Tony Busch as supply chain manager. Palasky oversees the engineering department, focusing on cross-collaboration, capacity planning and project management across all press projects. Tony Busch leads the purchasing department while directly coordinating with Beckwood’s vendors. He will navigate the global supply chain to ensure presses are built within customers’ desired lead times.
a DeShazo building in the process of construction

DeShazo acquires machinery builder

DeShazo, Bessemer, Alabama, a manufacturer of industrial equipment for the material handling and automation industries, has purchased Integrated Machinery Solutions (IMS), Azle, Texas, an engineering consulting firm and custom machinery builder. Adding the IMS business unit will enable DeShazo to respond more rapidly to service requests, more effectively route parts requests, and gain efficiencies in the repair cycle. DeShazo has over 25,000 overhead cranes in service worldwide.
Birmingham Fastener acquires K-T Bolt
underview of a metal structure using large screws and bolts
Birmingham Fastener, Birmingham, Alabama, has acquired K-T Bolt Manufacturing Inc., Katy, Texas. With over 100 years of combined fastener production, this acquisition strengthens Birmingham Fastener’s product offering and manufacturing diversity. K-T Bolt Manufacturing provides custom fabrication, closed-die forging, in-house heat treating, and electropolishing. With this partnership, Birmingham Fastener and its sister companies are able to expand product and service offerings to their customers. Randy Peck will stay on as president of K-T Bolt and join the leadership team at Birmingham Fastener.
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