Keller Technology Corporation (KTC) was in Atlanta for FABTECH 2018, held November 6-8th at the Georgia World Congress Center. The expo featured the latest innovations in welding, forming, additive manufacturing, and surface finishing equipment. The show’s exhibitors displayed equipment in three buildings filling them with engineers, tradespeople, sparks, and smoke.
Exhibitors’ booths were extremely busy from the start of the show and many of the machines on display had “sold” signs on them by day three. Companies were demonstrating computer-controlled, fully automated, tube forming machines, painting, and welding robot work cells, laser marking machines, waterjet cutting systems, and CNC press brakes. Continuing the trend of highly sophisticated computer-controlled equipment, surprisingly there were six-axis robots performing precision grinding and polishing operations on complex curved surfaces on the exhibition floor. These robotic work cells utilized sophisticated, multi-axis, force feedback sensors and programming to do what operators were tasked to do only a few years ago.
Not all of the equipment on display at the FABTECH show were fully automated and computer-controlled. There were plenty of machines on display that would fit well with the manufacturing operations of smaller fabrication shops that routinely process lower volumes of an unpredictable variety of parts. If you’re only building a few copies of a component, it is impossible to justify the capital investment and programming time of a fully automatic system. A machine that bridges the gap is a semi-automatic tube bender from Unison. It increases the overall throughput and also improves the accuracy and consistency of a manual tube forming operation.
There were also exhibitors offering products that were not equipment related. These included gloves, masks, clothing, grinding discs, abrasive belts, and weld process monitoring instrumentation. Our friends at Aquasol Corporation, whose products we use regularly at KTC, had a booth displaying all of their purging, atmosphere monitoring and cleaning products that help companies produce consistent and high-quality welds.
Technology is rapidly expanding into areas of the manufacturing and fabrication industries where it has always been difficult to justify automation. With skilled tradesmen and tradeswomen in short supply, companies are investing in advanced equipment to increase manufacturing capacity and make their current employees more efficient. KTC is excited by this wave of change and continues to invest in people, training, and technology at both of our cutting-edge manufacturing facilities.
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