Atlas BlogPRECISION SHEET METAL FABRICATION

2017 FireBears Robotic Team

May 19, 2017

One of the ways Atlas gives back to the community is sponsoring the Roseville FireBears FIRST Robotics Team. 2017 marks the fourth year of our partnership with the FireBears. We provide a real world experience for the Roseville Area High School students to take their CAD models from ideas to fabricated sheet metal parts.

The FIRST Robotics Competition is called the ultimate Sport for the Mind. High-school student participants call it “the hardest fun you’ll ever have.” Under strict rules, limited resources, and an intense six-week time limit, teams of students are challenged to raise funds, design a team “brand,” hone teamwork skills, and build and program industrial-size robots to play a difficult field game against like-minded competitors. It’s as close to real-world engineering as a student can get. Volunteer professional mentors lend their time and talents to guide each team. Each season ends with an exciting FIRST Championship. In 2017, over 3000 teams from around the world participated. Minnesota has 208 teams. More information can be found at https://www.firstinspires.org/robotics/frc.

The 2017 challenge was called FIRST STEAMWorks. The game this year was made with the concept of getting a steam powered airship ready to take flight. Robots needed to bring gears to their alliance’s airships and the human players would place the gears and turn the rotors for points. Robots were responsible for getting fuel into the boilers to power the airships. At the end of the match, the robot needed to climb a rope and activate a light at the top of the climb to prepare the robot for takeoff. A video animation of the game is here: https://youtu.be/EMiNmJW7enI

The Roseville FireBears just completed their 9th competition season. The team consists of 13 volunteer mentors. Mentors are adults with industry experience in fabrication, electronics, programming, CAD and marketing. This year, the FireBears had 41 students ranging from freshmen to seniors. These students are split up into 5 subteams (CAD, Mechanical, Electrical, Programming and Marketing). The students practice in the fall to prepare them for the 6.5 week long Build Season, which begins the first Saturday of the new calendar year. Team website here: http://firebears.org

  

As part of this sponsorship, Atlas provides a factory tour to the team during the summer or fall when the team isn’t quite so busy. When the Build Season starts, Atlas meets multiple times with the students and mentors from the CAD team to review the robot design, suggest ways to improve and simplify the design for fabrication, and to schedule fabrication and powdercoating. Atlas provides these parts and services so the students learn how things are done in the real world and to be better prepared for college and careers.

Since Atlas and the FireBears formed their partnership in 2014, the team has seen greater competition success. The FireBears won their first trip to the World Championship in 2016. They have won an Industrial Design award and two Imagery awards.

From the team: “For fun our team made different signs to go on the underside of our robot for each match. We knew we would be climbing so we made 20 different messages. No one else had this idea and it was fun to see the excitement on the field and in the stands when we climbed as everyone wanted to know what our next message would be. Of course one of our signs said “Thank You Sponsors” because without them, we wouldn’t have a team and be able to give students an application for what they learn in the STEM fields in school. Thank you for helping us make another beautiful robot!”

An exciting match with our team, the FireBears: https://youtu.be/FVTSQbJjr9E

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Heat Shield for Performance Intake System

May 15, 2017

As a sheet metal fabricator, we sometimes get to work on some really fun and unique products. This is one of them!

We were recently approached by an aftermarket automotive company to create a heat shield for a performance intake system. The challenge was to develop a very uniquely shaped component to this system that is fabricated from a single piece of metal vs. having multiple pieces fastened together. This construction reduces potential fail points, maximizes the shielding of heat and also looks great, particularly after we powder-coated the components in a beautiful black finish. Every gear-head knows that under-the-hood aesthetics coupled with performance are everything!

Our production team helped with the end design and cut, formed, welded, powder coated and assembled each piece. With our highly skilled team we are able to create hundreds of unique products quickly and efficiently.

See here for a video on the product:

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Atlas Collaborative Robot

March 21, 2017

 
In the manufacturing environment, there have been many press brake operating jobs that require skilled workers to perform very simple tasks, such as bending one small part after another, over and over again. Businesses are deploying their highly skilled operators on projects that are very simple and tedious when they could be utilized for highly complex and specialized work. At Atlas, we took a unique approach to this problem. Instead of having skilled operators perform the monotonous simple work, why not a collaborative robot? This is where our robot Baxter became engaged with operating a press brake.

Over the past couple of years, collaborative robots have gathered attention from manufacturing companies like Atlas. The operator and robot collaborate and use a system called behavior-based robotics. The programmer teaches the collaborative robot specific movements and from that, the robot becomes aware of its surroundings and decides the best path to complete its task. If they touch something out of the ordinary, it will stop to prevent creating scrap. Also, collaborative robots can sense if a person is nearby and will slow down the process for safety precautions.

When the collaborative robot was first introduced to the manufacturing industry, we were a bit skeptical; it was slow-moving and did come with a few drawbacks. Over time, however, the technology has progressed. According to Zach Zurbey, our continuous improvement leader, “We saw the updated systems and it became quicker, more agile, and repeatable.” This is when Atlas decided to purchase Baxter from Rethink Robotics. The improvement team took on the role to figure out how exactly to use Baxter.

After analyzing how the collaborative robot performed through the summer, we found a place for Baxter in our press brake department. We had just received an order that included a large volume of very simple brackets. Rather than consuming the time of our press brake operators, we could collaborate with our robot to get this job done, while allowing operators to work on more complicated projects.

Since the implementation of Baxter, we have kept him working on simple tasks. We keep Baxter busy with projects that have three or fewer bends. If the project exceeds this constraint, we move the task to skilled operators to avoid scrap.

Baxter has proven that collaborative robots can help with efficiency in the workplace and the technology continues to improve. One of our best press brake operators trains Baxter, programs his press brake, and works on the initial setup. When he is not around, other press brake operators will check up on Baxter and monitor his work. Because of Baxter, our very skilled press brake operators can now focus on more complicated projects rather than spending 8-12 hours a day working on simple, tedious projects.

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2017 Sales Meeting

March 9, 2017

 
Atlas Manufacturing held a sales meeting at Mystic Lake on March 1st for our teams of Manufacturers’ Representatives and Sales Staff. The meeting was held to discuss ways we all can work together to better serve the needs of our current and future customers. The theme of the event was “Don’t gamble on your future, hit the jackpot with Atlas in 2017.”

Throughout the event, a variety of trophies and awards were given out. One of our team members, Bill, took home the Prospector Award and Rich took the title of Best Gambler Award. The meeting was followed by a blackjack tournament.  It was a great team building event; everyone had a great time and shared a lot of laughs. Thank you to Mystic Lake for hosting us! This was an outstanding event that we learned a lot from. We look forward to applying this in working with our great customers in 2017!

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2017 Chippewa Falls Ice Fishing Event

February 22, 2017

Each year, Atlas Manufacturing gathers with some of our customers and employees and enjoy comradery and ice fishing while enjoying drinks on the lake. This year, it was sunny and cold but an amazing day. All teams were in costume and well recognized.

The essence of this fishing event is a way to get coworkers and retired employees together to have an afternoon of fun & fishing. This year’s theme was ‘Whizzards on Ice’ which consisted of a large variety of costumes including Munchkins, Scarecrows, Lions, Tin men (created by Atlas, of course), Dorothy, and Toto. The event included some wacky food options as well, including ‘Flying Monkey Head’ (Beef) Stew, Poppy Fields Rolls, and Auntie Em & Em Bars with a ‘Snow Place Like Foam’ topping. The event culminated with pizza and prizes at the Ojibwa Bowling Alley at JimBob’s pizza. At the end of the night, awards were given out for the best costumes as well as donated prizes given out to employees. This year’s big winner received a 50-inch TV.

At Atlas, we value our customers and employees. This was a great event that gave us the chance to connect with them outside of the business.

        

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2016 Stroll in the Park for Epilepsy

May 31, 2016

 

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ATLAS was a sponsor for the annual Stroll in the Park walk and picnic in Chippewa Falls on May 7th.  Hundreds of people put their best foot forward to help find a cure for Epilepsy during the 1.5 mile walk through Irvine Park and proceeded to have a good time during the picnic afterwards.  The Stroll in the Park is the longest running event for the Epilepsy Foundation of Western Wisconsin, which is helping the millions of people currently affected by Epilepsy by attempting to find therapies to put a halt to seizures and ultimately find a cure.

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Chippewa Falls Springfest

 

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The Chippewa Falls Springfest kicked off the weekend of April 29th-May 1st. The weekend was packed full of events whether it was exploring an exhibit, running a 5K, or participating in the KUBB championship, there was something for everyone. ATLAS was a proud sponsor for this event which helped benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Greater Chippewa Valley as well as the Chippewa Area Mentor Program. Both of these programs are in place to help students and young adults gain positive relationships and mentoring. It is great to see programs in place to assist young adults in our community.

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2016 Chippewa Charity Classic Golf Outing

May 24, 2016

 

The 2016 Chippewa Charity Classic Golf Outing recently teed off on Friday, May 20th.  ATLAS was fortunate enough to be able to sponsor a hole for the fundraiser.  The proceeds from the event benefited the Wisconsin Make-A-Wish Foundation, which helps grant the wishes of children who have been diagnosed with life threatening medical conditions.  The Wisconsin chapter was founded in 1984 and is on pace to grant 365 wishes, a wish a day, in 2016!  We are proud to support such a great organization and had a great time participating in the outing.

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Chippewa Falls facility adds enhanced forming capability

April 8, 2016

Precision metal forming requires control and consistency.  Proven in our Minneapolis facility, a 10 ft, 135 ton brake was transferred to enhance operations.  Off-line programming of the press brake from either location now allows operators fast set-up and standard work for each and every repeat part.  In addition, we can quickly shift production between Minneapolis and Chippewa Falls if there are capacity bottlenecks.   IMG_6917

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Atlas Minneapolis adds fastest punching machine in the world

February 17, 2016

New 5000 2.17.16

Record orders for punched parts required added capacity so we could meet customer lead-times.  This machine was showcased at Fabtech and then headed west to Atlas Minneapolis.  Super quick punching, tapping, 4 bin part sorting, and auto tool changing are just some of the added features that enhance our capability. With two fully automated Trumpf 5000 punch machines and a stand alone Trumpf 2020 for prototyping, we are positioned for more growth in 2016 and beyond.

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