Went to FABTECH on Wednesday. The show was great but driving up to the city wasn't all that pleasant. Big accident on I-94 so traffic was backed up on I-65 before I even got on I-94. I worked my way around that and then hit a couple more spots where things slowed down due to construction, including right where you get off the Stephenson to pull into the parking lot at McCormick place. Fortunately, it was a nice day and I was in no hurry but I think maybe I've lived out in the country a bit too long.
However, I did get a chance to see the Paley and James sculptures. They would have looked better in the photos if they were in front of a plain background of some sort but I was lucky to get photos that didn't have people in front of them. There's obviously a lot of work in these things but they aren't really my cup of tea. I don't think I'd commission anything like these even if I could afford one but that's how it is in the old art game. Glad I had a chance to see them, however.
The show is huge. I saw a good part of it but didn't really spend a lot of time talking to too many of the vendors. However, I did talk to a representative from the Ironworkers and the Sheet Metal trade. Pretty interesting conversations but, unfortunately, a lot of it was the same old thing of showing up to work, being on time, keep your phone in your pocket and all that. The rep from the sheet metal trades went into it a little deeper and noted that a lot of young people think these construction jobs are no big deal - like you can find them anywhere so don't put the effort in that they should to keep a job that will pay good money, have a pension and health benefits, and pay for your education. No student loans here. You start out making a decent wage and get a raise every six months during the apprenticeship program. If you like the work, you can't really ask for more from a job.
He also mentioned that the sheet metal trades merged with another union about six years ago so now they are sheet metal, air, rail and transportation. Had no idea about that. Also, I had no idea Hyundai was as big as they are in the production of electrodes. In fact I had no idea at all they were in that business. The salesman said they were the world's largest supplier of electrodes - even bigger than Lincoln. How 'bout that?
The thing I was most impressed with of everything I saw was the tactical welder. It's a battery powered MIG welder that's small enough to fit in a back pack. It weighs only 27 pounds, a little more if you run solid wire due to the weight of the bottle of shielding gas. It uses a spool gun, which means you could switch from carbon steel to aluminum easily. Pretty clever.
I came home with a bag of brochures, catalogs and stuff to wade through. When I get a chance to look through it, I'll post a wrap-up.