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Fabtech focus groups 2014EWI will be chairing two special focus groups at FABTECH 2014 in Atlanta, GA, November 10-13. The sessions, geared toward manufacturing industry leaders and stakeholders, will be conducted as part of the NIST AMTech initiative to develop the first comprehensive national technology roadmaps for materials joining and forming technology.

Admission to the focus group meetings is by invitation only. If you are interested in participating in either group, please contact the session leader directly:

Materials Joining Focus Group, Monday 11/10 (pre-show)
Group Leader: Tom McGaughy, Director of Technology (

Forming Center Technology Focus Group, Thursday 11/13
Group Leader: Hyunok Kim, EWI Forming Center Technical Director (

Have you wondered how Buffalo Manufacturing Works can help small companies gain a competitive advantage? Check out the Buffalo News to learn about Eastman Manufacturing’s involvement with the new advanced manufacturing center, operated by EWI.

BMW logo

Who Let the Frogs Out?

Marc Purslow —  October 13, 2014 — Leave a comment
Suhas Frogman

AMS Frog installed in TTCI’s test track

I recently rode my bicycle across America and saw a whole bunch of craziness: A hurricane in Maine, hail storms in the Arizona desert, a haboob in the California sand dunes, and hundreds of giant frogs…giant steel frogs…more specifically, giant battered austenitic manganese-steel frogs!

No, I didn’t lose my mind cycling for 43 days alone. I’m talking about a type of special trackwork used by railroads which allows track to converge, diverge, or cross. These components take a serious beating on a daily basis, and must be repaired due to wear, fatigue cracks, or when the train’s wheels simply rip a chunk of damaged material out as they make a transition (a.k.a. a “breakout”). It turns out that these battered frogs require the most maintenance of any track component and are unsurprisingly the most expensive to keep in good working order.


Typical AMS “breakout” defect in need of repair

Here’s the kicker – While austenitic manganese steel (AMS) has some great qualities (high toughness and great work-hardenability), it’s a bit tricky to weld. Unlike typical rail steels,  AMS does not respond well to high preheat and interpass temperatures. When this material gets too hot carbide precipitation occurs and it loses much of the toughness that makes it so attractive for this application. As such, the temperature of the base material must be kept unusually low. This impacts productivity negatively, making it difficult for repairs to be completed properly within the time allotted. In addition, since repairs are currently made with manually applied shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) and flux cored arc welding (FCAW), adherence to strict interpass temperature limitations is up to the individual welder and can’t be easily controlled.

EWI has conducted a project sponsored by the Federal Railroad Administration to develop a better method of repairing these components. Through a partnership with the Transportation Technology Center, Inc., and with guidance from the CSX corporation, EWI successfully used automated FCAW to achieve impressive results. Laboratory testing has revealed that EWI’s automated FCAW frog repair process results in a significant improvement in weld quality, reduced interpass temperatures, and increased productivity. The real proof is in the performance of these welds during in-track testing at Transportation Technology, Inc. (TTCI).

Repaired and Cropped

AMS frog repaired using EWI’s automated FCAW process

The life of rail components is measured in million gross tons, or MGTs. When an AMS frog is new, it will typically last between 55 and 60 MGTs before repair is required. Once a repair is performed this number drops to between 30 and 35 MGTs, provided that proper repair procedures are followed. A frog repaired with EWI’s automated FCAW process is currently being tested by TTCI and has accumulated over 90 MGTs to date. This is nearly triple the typical life of a repaired AMS frog and 50% more MGTs than a new frog, and testing hasn’t ended yet.

If you’re stomach turns at the thought of a battered frog, give Marc Purslow a call at 614.688.5150 or email him at



I had the opportunity to attend the 2014 IMTS (International Manufacturing Technology Show) in Chicago thanks to EWI’s involvement in the new venture Acoustech Systems. IMTS is a major trade show for any company that manufactures machine tools, CNC machines, production robotics, and more. From the tiniest drill bits to CNC machines the size of some apartments, one could see them all at IMTS. Attendees come from all over to find the latest and greatest tools and machines for their production facility. I attended to see the results of our hard work on the Acoustech Machining system, on display for industry leaders to marvel over. While not at the Acoustech exhibit, I walked the show floor checking out the cutting edge technology on display. The following is a sample of my favorite tech demos from IMTS .

The 3D printed car

3DcarArizona car manufacturer Local Motors was able to 3D print and assemble an entire working car live, start to finish, in front of attendees during the six days of IMTS. The last car to be 3D printed took a couple months. Unfortunately, I only attended IMTS the first day when the car consisted only of a few hunks of plastic. To read more and see it drive check out:


The Robot programed by motion

Baxter_Robot_from_RethinkRobotics_8Created by Rethink Robotics, Baxter is a person sized, two armed, production robot. While most robotics requires complex programming and hours of planning to encode a series of motions, Baxter is programmed by hand through direct manipulation of its appendages. It learns tasks by movement instead of code! If you find this interesting, check out:





Additive and subtractive manufacturing in one machine

LasertecThe Lasertec 65 3D is an integrated machine, able to create complex parts that are impossible to machine from a single block of material without interference. It is a hybrid of a five-axis CNC milling machine and additive manufacturing via metal powder deposition. It can exchange its mill head with a laser array tool head attached to a nozzle. As the nozzle shoots metal powder through the laser array, it fuses onto the work along the path of the CNC controlled head. It can build up a surface, finish it, drill holes, and then build up new surfaces. Take a look at:

Acoustech Systems

Drill moduleBe sure to check out the amazing Acoustech Machining technology, designed to vastly enhance metalworking capabilities of machining systems through the application of high power ultrasonics. All of us at EWI involved in the Acoustech project had our noses to the grindstone, making sure our latest and greatest was ready for demonstration at IMTS. It was rewarding to see that hard work come to fruition as my fellow employees showcased for the first time the ultrasonic drilling system EWI developed for Acoustech. To learn more about Acoustech Systems, visit or contact Matt Short ( or 614.688.5266).


EWI Forming Center LogoBe sure to sign up now for the upcoming workshop on Advanced Sheet Metal Forming Technology hosted by the EWI Forming Center and The Ohio State University’s Center for Precision Forming (OSU/CPF). The workshop is being held at EWI in Columbus on October 15-16, 2014.

To register for the workshop, please click here. To view the workshop agenda, click here. We look forward to seeing you!

Please do not hesitate to contact Hyunok Kim (, phone: 614.688.5239) or Taylan Altan (, phone: 614.292.5063) with any questions.


Marc Purslow —  October 3, 2014 — Leave a comment

Tandem GMAW torch

Some combos just don’t work: texting and roller-skating, toaster pastries and hot sauce, or a $300 bottle of Chianti and orange soda. In these cases, the whole is clearly less than the sum of its parts. But, sometimes we find a combination that works so well, it seems as if it was meant to be. Peanut butter and chocolate, corned beef and sauerkraut, or…GMAW and GMAW (aka tandem GMAW). Here at EWI we’re big fans of trying out new things and determining whether a mutually-beneficial relationship can be forged between two never-before-combined processes. While we certainly didn’t invent tandem GMAW, we’ve done a lot of it, and have pushed the boundaries to find out just how much greater this “whole” can be.

A bit of history…

TWB 76 - 4.5 meters per minute

High speed tandem GMAW weld, joined at a travel speed of 180 inches per minute

Early 1950s-era twin-arc GMAW processes utilized a single power source with a common-potential contact tip. This configuration resulted in an unstable process with significant arc interaction, excessive spatter, and poor overall weld quality. The introduction of an additional power source did little to remedy these issues, as a common-potential contact tip was still used. Typically operated in simultaneous pulse mode, arc interference limited performance, with controlled metal transfer typically occurring only in high current ranges. In both cases, whether the “whole” was actually greater was up for debate, as quality suffered significantly in an effort to increase productivity.

When electrically-isolated contact tips were introduced to the process everything changed. By using two independent power sources, the individual arcs could be adjusted independently and operated in “synchronized” pulsed mode, with the two waveforms 180 degrees out of phase. This phase shift ensured that when the current of one arc was at its peak, the other was at its lowest level, significantly minimizing arc interference and drastically improving overall process stability.

OK, OK…so what’s the “whole” already?!

Narrow-groove joint welded with tandem GMAW

Two main things can happen when you use tandem GMAW. Compared to single-wire GMAW, you can put down more metal, and you can go fast. When you combine these benefits, you can increase productivity while welding at a calculated heat input equal to or less than what is achievable with single-wire GMAW. We’ve gone pretty nuts with this process here at EWI and have developed it for applications across many industries. We’ve welded sheet metal at 180 inches a minute, welded thick plate at 35 lbs/hour, tripled single-wire deposition rates in the horizontal and overhead positions, and built our own narrow-groove tandem GMAW torch to weld a 4.75-inch thick narrow-groove joint in 27 just passes.

Bottom line: At EWI we rock at a lot of things. One of those things is tandem GMAW. We know how to squeeze every last bit of productivity out of this process and can help you do the same. If you’re ready for some Tandemonium, let us know.


Q-Switched Fiber Laser Paint Removal

Q-Switched Fiber Laser Paint Removal

At EWI, I was fortunate to be able to use an IPG q-switched fiber laser for several months. During this time I evaluated it for removing paint from aircraft aluminum along with other applications.

Q-switched lasers are unique in that they deliver very high power bursts of laser energy in short pulses. The term “q-switch” comes from the fact that the laser beam “quits” momentarily while the power builds and is then released. With the combination of high power and short pulse length, q-switched lasers and other similar short pulse length lasers are used to do more than just melt metal. They can vaporize and ablate materials with less wasted heating.

The exact model was an YLP-HP-50-100-10-500. This laser had 500-watts average power, a pulse length range of 25 to 200-ns in select increments, and a 600-micron delivery fiber. The pulse frequency range for this laser was 9.9 to 50.1-kHtz. The focused spot size was about 600-micron.

The collimated beam from the IPG q-switched fiber laser was delivered to a scanner where mirrors scanned the focused q-switched laser beam in a pattern of stripes over aircraft aluminum with multiple layers of paint. The pulse frequency was 24-kHtz. By varying the laser scanner speed, the overlap between stripes, the laser power, and the number of passes, different paint removing results were obtained. The picture above shows a frame from the video. Two passes are made at 100% power and 4 passes at 25% power. These settings were able to remove much of the paint down to base metal. Q-switched lasers can be also be used for cleaning and surface texturing.

Video of Q-Switched Fiber Laser Paint Removal

For more information on Q-switched fiber laser processing please contact Jay Eastman at

EWI also has extensive experience with laser paint stripping using continuous wave fiber lasers and CO2 lasers using EWI patented polygon scanner. For more information about laser paint stripping, contact EWI Technology Leader Stan Ream at

EWI has been designated an Ohio Best Employer

EWI has been designated an Ohio Best Employer


EWI, recognized nationwide for its expertise in innovative manufacturing technology, will open its doors to community visitors on October 3, 2014 — and we’d love to have you join us! The 2nd Annual Open House is part of “Manufacturing Day 2014″ events being held simultaneously throughout the nation to educate the public about breadth, depth, and strength of American manufacturing today. To get details and to sign up for one of our two tours (advanced registration is required), visit today.


Take a tour of EWI on National Manufacturing Day

Take a tour of EWI on National Manufacturing Day

My Dad the Toothpick Ninja

Marc Purslow —  September 24, 2014 — 1 Comment

Toothpic EWIKnowledge is funny. Once you know something, it seems so obvious. I once had a door in my house that would barely scrape against the floor. I asked my father to give me a hand with it, expecting that we’d need to shave some material off of the bottom to give the clearance needed. I owned no such tools, so that when my father showed up empty-handed I was baffled. He said, “Let’s go to the grocery store, we can get what we need there.” My father emerged with only a box of toothpicks. When we arrived home, he removed the door and the hinges, placed a toothpick in each screw hole, and broke off the ends flush. He then reattached the hinges and replaced the door, the toothpicks offsetting the position of the door upward just enough to eliminate the scraping. As he triumphantly opened and closed the now quiet door he smiled. “Son,” he said, “Sometimes you just need a shim.”

I’ve worked at EWI for nearly nine years. This is a special place. Special because of the variety of individuals, the collective breadth of knowledge under one umbrella, and the knowledge that if it can be done, we can do it (and if it “can’t be done” we can probably do it anyway!). Rarely are we faced with a “normal” task, because our customers are often readily capable of solving such problems. More often we are faced with things that have never been done, or have never been done so quickly. We are confident in our ability to meet these challenges because of the knowledge gained from our collective vast and varied experiences. With specialists in every welding technology on the planet, machining, forming, design, modeling, metallurgy, and failure analysis (to name a few), EWI is a truly unique and valuable resource to customers across many industries.

We don’t do a whole lot of door shimming at EWI, but the story about my father demonstrates an important concept: When you need to solve a problem and you ask someone who has experience and is willing to share their knowledge with you, you get smarter and your life becomes a whole lot easier. This is true within EWI and equally true for our customers. We often tell our members that they should think of EWI as an extension of their staff, as a massive resource at their fingertips. Maybe we should tell them to think of us as their carpenter father who knows how to fix a door in five minutes with a $0.99 box of toothpicks. By benefitting from our breadth of experience, our customers can free themselves up to focus on the things that will help grow their businesses and reach new levels of success.


EWI Laser Technology Leader Stan Ream

EWI’s Stan Ream

EWI’s laser technology leader Stan Ream was featured and interviewed about his breakthrough patent on High-Powered Reflective Focusing Optics (HPRFO) for welding with a high-powered, solid-state laser in the July 2014 issue of The Fabricator.

The "Beast"

The High-Power Reflective Focusing Optics (HPRFO) for high-powered laser welding uses only reflective optics.

The technology allows for relatively long, uninterrupted stretches using high laser power, specifically 13 kW – without the need for transmissive optics!

And now, with a new 20 kW IPG Photonics fiber laser, recently installed at EWI, the laser group is configuring the technology to take on power levels higher than 20 kW.

Be sure to check out the July issue of The Fabricator to read the full article. If you happen to be near Chicago, you can visit Stan at the Lasers for Manufacturing Event (LME), booth #5016, in Shaumberg, IL, Sept 23-24, 2014.

To learn more about EWI’s laser technologies, contact Stan Ream at or 614.688.55092.