When FABTECH 2016 took over Las Vegas with the latest advanced metal forming, fabricating, welding, tube and pipe, and finishing technologies, you could be sure that what happened in Vegas would surely not stay in Vegas.
Fabtech 2016 welcomed 1,500 exhibiting companies and a total of 31,110 attendees from over 120 countries last week to the Las Vegas Convention Center. Advanced technology suppliers of manufacturers, machine tool builders, distributors, and suppliers found a ready, willing, and able audience among the visitors who attended this year’s annual version of the fabricating event co-sponsored by SME, FMA, AWS, PMA, and CCAI. With the election decided, exhibitors reported new optimism from attendees who were enthusiastically bringing projects for quote that had hitherto been delayed, put under wraps, or totally forgotten.
FABTECH attendees from the ranks of manufacturing engineers, fabricators, welders, precision metal formers, and coil coaters heard a memorable keynote speech by six-time world champion fighter in five weight classes, Sugar Ray Leonard, whose appearance was sponsored by Mitsubishi Laser. A standing room throng of more than a 1000 listened to Leonard’s prescription for personal and professional success interspersed with clips from his memorable fights with Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Tommy “Hit Man” Hearns, and Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran. The audience was invited to capture their participating in the event on social media who vied with one another with their Selfie posts to win a signed pair of Sugar Ray’s boxing gloves. Leonard’s message: Set fear aside with preparation, focus, discipline, determination, and the right attitude…and a lot of road work.
And the road work began on the show floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center where attendees could see the latest developments in hot wire welding and lasing, stamping, coil handling and coating, fixturing, and bending. Advanced technologies continued their inevitable march toward improved productivity and part quality through speed, accuracy, and automation. Fiber lasers with powers of 8 kW and in particular 10 kW are cutting parts so fast that material handling, stackers and loaders and unloaders are being re-engineered to keep up where an operator simply can’t be expected to.
Robots continue to provide sophisticated automation for traditional processes like tending press brakes with automatic tool changing and sophisticated automation for bending large parts. Or in the case of new additive manufacturing processes, a robot builds a part from scratch or repairs an existing high value workpiece, combining laser power with traditional hot wire welding technology for large metal part manufacturing.
Software remains the source of a common thread for increased visibility of manufacturing processes that can be monitored and tracked through the entire shop and out into the supply chain. ERP data can be viewed and shared in real time through Social Media and the latest mobility devices. Or manufacturers can interact in a virtual reality with their internal staff and customers in design, proof of concept and validation processes through sophisticated audiovisual and information technology.
In addition, no FABTECH event would be complete without an education program that featured the latest technology trends in lasers, cutting, welding, automation, forming and fabricating, and stamping, and the management insight needed for workforce development and lean practices for job shop success.
At the Tooling U/SME booth, 16 leading industry experts sat down with Senior Editor Alan Rooks to record their insights into today’s manufacturing challenges for SME’s Advanced Manufacturing Media Podcasts. Also, the booth featured Listening Station Cones where previously recorded Podcasts could be heard.
Information about membership and scope of FABTECH’s industry-leading professional co-sponsoring societies can be found at their respective web sites: www.sme.org; www.fmanet.org; www.aws.org; www.pma.org; and www.ccaiweb.com.