An IDEAL Welding Speed


Ideal Automated Welder at Marlin SteelRecently, we proudly announced the arrival of a new IDEAL welding systems welder to the Marlin Steel production facility. In that announcement, we briefly discussed a few of the benefits that this machine will bring to our company’s manufacturing capabilities.

Today, we’ll be taking a closer look at the advantages that the welding speed of this new automated welder provides, but first…

How Fast is it?

The Versaweld CSR102-1230-3-MFDC NC Jig Welding System from IDEAL Welding Systems can complete a weld in two milliseconds. That’s 2/1,000 of a second. That is literally many times faster than a human eye blink (which takes 100-400 milliseconds). That’s right, in the time it takes you to blink, this welding system could, in theory, complete up to 50 weld operations.

Most other automated welding machines take 60/1,000 of a second to complete a weld.

What are the Benefits of This Speed?

Ideal Welder - Marlin SteelFaster welds, in and of themselves, mean that this machine can complete more welds than a traditional welding machine. In the time it would take a standard automated welder to complete 2 welds, our new IDEAL welder could finish 60 welds. This means that this welder could significantly increase our production capacity.

However, the ability to complete more welds in less time is only the beginning of the advantages offered by the two millisecond weld speed of our new automated welder.

By finishing weld operations so quickly, the Versaweld CSR102 uses less flash, which translates into less blistering. Typically, joining two pieces of metal with a welder takes time, heating the metal and causing discoloration or bubbling. Because our new welder from IDEAL can make welds so quickly, the metal being joined doesn’t get as overheated and doesn’t form as many blisters.

Fast weld speeds also prevent other deformities in the weld, such as sharps or upsets that can deform a delicate wire form’s shape ever so slightly. Even worse, with a slower weld speed, parts can begin bowing (curving like a potato chip) instead of remaining flat. The more intersections that need to be welded together, the more chances there are for a severe deformity in the wire form to occur.

Typically, such deformities place extra strain on the wire form, causing it to become more prone to failure. By eliminating the possibility of such stresses on the frame of the final product, 2 millisecond welds allow the wire form to last for longer without failing.

In short, faster welds help to ensure the best weld quality possible in metal forms.

With the addition of the IDEAL welder, we can deliver quality engineered quick better than ever before. Contact us to learn more.

Ask Congress to Support Permanent Bonus Depreciation


During the week of July 7, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on a bill – H.R. 4718, sponsored by Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH) – that would restore and make permanent the 50 percent first year expensing provisions that have been in effect for the past several years (until they expired at the end of 2013). Allowing companies to write off half of the cost of their capital investments in the same year that the investment is made will go a long way towards ensuring that companies of all sizes can make the best business decisions for their specific business situation and not be paralyzed by constant on-again off-again pro-investment tax policies.

For example, let’s say that a manufacturer needed to invest a significant amount of their budget into the acquisition of some fixed assets (such as automated manufacturing equipment) in order to remain competitive with foreign competitors. H.R. 4718 would make it easier for such a company to make that investment so that they can stay competitive and continue to add new jobs.

In fact, that’s exactly the kind of investment our company, Marlin Steel, made when we acquired the automated manufacturing machines we use to precision engineer wire forms such as material handling and parts washing wire baskets. With this investment, we were able to open up new markets and grow jobs at a time when we were faced with the very real threat of extinction.

If passed, this resolution can help countless other small businesses make similar investments more readily, growing jobs and keeping American companies competitive.

Other Benefits of H.R. 4718

H.R. 4718 also allows companies that have Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) credits to use those in lieu of taking the 50 percent first-year expensing. In the absence of comprehensive tax reform, manufacturers need critical pro-investment tax policies enacted permanently to allow them to plan for future investments based on business need and not on temporary tax policy.

Expensing is not just a matter of timing. By reducing the after-tax cost of investments, policies like H.R. 4718 allow manufacturers to stretch critical resources and make the investments they need to compete in today’s competitive global economy.

Capital investment is the key to economic growth, job creation and competitiveness. Pro-investment tax policies like this will allow manufacturers to better compete, invest and grow as well as helping to drive increased sales of capital equipment. Please contact your Member of Congress today and urge them to vote in favor of H.R. 4718 and support permanent 50 percent first year expensing.

Introducing the IDEAL Future of Welding


Ideal Welding Machine - Marlin Steel Marlin Steel is proud to announce that we have installed a new, top-of-the-line IDEAL welding system in our production facility. With this new piece of incredibly precise, automated Medium Frequency Direct Current (“MFDC”) welding equipment, Marlin Steel is now able to provide a level of quality, efficiency, and service that is unique among American manufacturers.

Why is our new IDEAL welder such a big deal?

Ideal Welding Machine - Marlin SteelWell, there are many answers to that question, including:

  • It is a rare piece of equipment. The Versaweld CSR102-1230-3-MFDC NC Jig Welding System from IDEAL is a brand new system with a limited production run. At the time of this writing, there are only five of these machine in the world, and ours is the only one outside of Germany.Ideal Welding Machine - Marlin Steel
  • It supports welding in three dimensions. A standard automated welder can only make welds along the X axis and the Y axis; this means that they can only weld along a flat plane. Our new welder from IDEAL can make welds along the X, Y, and Z axes all at once.
  • It completes welds much faster than a traditional machine. This new welding system is much more efficient than a traditional welding machine, completing welds in2/1000th of a second – that is fast! This is 1/30th the time of a standard Alternating Current automated welder so sharp edges do not have time to form.Marlin Steel Ideal Welding Machine - 10 ft tables
  • It has a 10’ x 4’ table. Most welding machines have a 4’ x 4’ table. With a 10’ x 4’ table, the IDEAL welder has 40 sq. ft. of weld area, more than double that of a typical welder. This will allow Marlin Steel to automate the welding process of much larger parts that other companies simply won’t have the capacity to handle.
  • It has four different welding heads. With different built-in welding heads, the IDEAL is able to handle a variety of welding tasks. For example, the pincer welding head is equipped with a set of servos that allow it to rotate 359° as well as moving up and down.Ideal Welding Machine Marlin Steel
  • It can handle rounded edges. Speaking of the multiple welding heads, and the ability of the welder to move in three dimensions, the IDEAL welder can handle rounded edges (like guards and grills) with curved contours without the need of a human to move in and take care of these welds manually.

These are but a few of the primary reasons why those of us here at Marlin Steel are excited to be getting the revolutionary new welding system in our production facility. However, the short descriptions in the bullet points above don’t do justice to the impact that these benefits of the IDEAL welding machine will have.

We will talk more about what makes this machine such a unique and important investment, and how it will ensure that Marlin Steel will have the best weld quality in future posts. Be sure to check our blog for more information over the next few weeks.

Marlin Steel Ideal Welding Machine

Marlin Steel Featured in Robot Report


Marlin Steel RoboticsAs a publication that promotes the use of advanced robotics, The Robot Report’s online site often features businesses that make an impact in their industry through the use of top of the line robots.

Recently, our company was featured in an article on The Robot Report for the way in which we integrated advanced robotics into our manufacturing process to remain competitive with foreign manufacturers who traditionally held an advantage over U.S.-based manufacturers in terms of labor cost to output ratio.

See the article by Frank Tobe on The Robot Report’s website now.

Keeping Manufacturing Exports Growing: the Ex-Im Bank Mentions Marlin Steel on CNBC


Marlin Steel EmployeesWe’ve talked about the recent resurgence of U.S.-based manufacturing a lot on this blog. With the steady increase of manufacturing jobs in the USA, there’s a lot to be optimistic about when it comes to the future of the manufacturing industry.

One major source of income for manufacturing companies is the export of their goods to other countries. However, not every company has the capital to handle the expense of exporting their goods. This is especially true of smaller manufacturers who happen to receive sudden, large orders for their products from an overseas client.

When small manufacturers need to secure loans so that they can cover export costs, they, much like private citizens looking for a home loan, turn to the bank. However, most private banks will not provide loans to companies to cover export costs without some kind of guarantee. That is where the U.S. Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank comes in.

Chairman & President Fred Hochberg of Ex-Im Bank recently had an interview with CNBC where he specifically mentioned Marlin Steel. You can watch the video in this blog post or here on

What Ex-Im Does

The Ex-Im bank helps to guarantee that manufacturers can successfully export their goods to foreign markets by providing financial support to companies that need it. The Ex-Im Bank also provides insurance for companies in the case of non-payment. It borrows money from the Treasury to cover these loans, and repays that money plus interest when loans are repaid.

By giving companies the support that they cannot get from private sector banks, the Ex-Im bank helps to ensure that American businesses can remain competitive with overseas manufacturers. Without the support of the Ex-Im bank, U.S. companies would have a much harder time securing the funds that they need to successfully export goods to other markets, leading to a loss of business… which would eventually mean lost jobs as these companies struggle to keep up with foreign businesses that enjoy the support of their own Ex-Im Bank equivalents.

According to an article featured on The Wall Street Journal’s website, the Ex-Im Bank provided $27.4 billion in loans in the 2013 fiscal year. These loans supported $37.4 billion in exports.

The Problem

The Ex-Im Bank, which has been in operation since 1934, is faced with the very real possibility of extinction. Its current authorization to operate is set to expire at the end of September, and the current majority leader of the House, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, is dead set on opposing the reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank.

As Jay Timmons, the President of the NAM (National Association of Manufacturers), said in a recent interview with Industry Week: “200,000 employees at 3,400 companies depend on Ex-Im Bank financing for their jobs” and that “allowing the Ex-Im Bank to shut its doors would be a gift to foreign producers and would result in the loss of exports.”

Opposition to the Ex-Im Bank is largely based on a series of myths about its operation. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an organization dedicated to supporting American businesses both large and small, has shared a number of these myths on their website so that people can see the truth about the Ex-Im Bank’s operations.

Thomas J. Donohue, the President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce stated that:

With Americans overwhelmingly focused on the need to create jobs and grow our economy, business owners are understandably perplexed by the inside-the-Beltway campaign against the Ex-Im Bank. In particular, the thousands of small businesses that depend on the bank to be able to access foreign markets are stunned at the threat that Washington could let its charter lapse. However, we won’t let that happen.

Why is the President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce so concerned about the potential lapse of the Ex-Im Bank charter?

Because without the aid of the Ex-Im Bank, small manufacturing businesses would have to try to compete with foreign companies that are partially or wholly subsidized by their governments. Naturally, this would put small American companies at an enormous disadvantage.

In fact, did you know that most developed countries have their own version of the Ex-Im Bank? How about how the Ex-Im Bank supports small businesses? If not, you might want to check out the Ex-Im 101 video on the NAM website. This video explains a lot about what the U.S. Export-Import Bank does and how it operates.

Supporting Ex-Im

As an organization dedicated to the well-being of American businesses, the NAM is organizing its members to provide support for the reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank. Hundreds of businesses are now a part of this organized effort to get the members of Congress to appreciate the value of this institution to the financial well-being of American businesses.

In addition to the National Association of Manufacturers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is urging anyone who has been part of a business that the Ex-Im Bank has helped to send letters to their Senators and Representatives requesting that Ex-Im Bank be reauthorized.

Here at Marlin Steel, we wholeheartedly support the reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank. With so many other countries operating their own version of the Ex-Im Bank (many of which provide much more funding to companies affiliated with their individual governments than our own does), it is of paramount importance to make sure that this organization can continue to provide the support American companies need to have a level playing field.

Without support from the Ex-Im Bank, there are many companies that would not be able to complete the business deals they need to survive, let alone thrive and create more jobs for Americans.

If you want to support the Ex-Im Bank, contact NAM today to learn how you can help. With your support, the NAM and its members, such as Marlin Steel, can help ensure the continued growth of the manufacturing industry.

4 Reasons to be Optimistic about the Future of Manufacturing


Marlin Steel ManufacturingHere at the Marlin Steel facility in Baltimore, we’re always excited to see news about the manufacturing industry (after all, manufacturing is what we do). We’ve recently seen a lot of positive news that could indicate that the manufacturing industry in the USA is poised for a comeback.

“What are these pieces of positive news and why should I get excited for manufacturing,” you ask? Well, there are a great many reasons to be both optimistic and excited for the future of manufacturing, including:

Reason #1: Job Growth

For much of the last few decades, manufacturing was a declining business in America. After enjoying a boom in growth during the years following WWII, when America’s manufacturing infrastructure was one of the only undamaged sources of manufactured goods in the world, there was a major decline. During this time, there were innumerable factory lay-offs and closures.

Thankfully, this decline has leveled out during recent years. In fact, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article by James R. Hagerty, jobs in the manufacturing sector have risen “by about 600,000 over the past four years to more than 12 million.” In that same article, there was a bit of information from a survey that indicated that 21% of U.S.-based manufacturers “were moving production back to the U.S. or planning to do so.”

An increase in jobs in the manufacturing sector indicates that more business is coming to American manufacturers. More jobs also means more people paying taxes and contributing to the financial stability of the country.

Reason #2: Energy Costs are Going Down

As Marlin Steel’s owner discussed in a previous interview with WBAL radio’s John Patty, which can be found here, the discovery of new techniques to extract more natural gas from deposits in various areas of the country has made it cheaper and more economical to power the manufacturing industry.

In states such as Pennsylvania and Ohio, the natural gas industry has helped to boost tax revenues, providing more money for schools and other necessary civil services.

By making energy costs more affordable for manufacturers, it is more likely that manufacturing jobs will be brought to America than to other countries, further increasing job growth.

Reason #3: Overseas Labor Costs are on the Rise

One of the big issues behind the loss of manufacturing jobs in America was the costs attached to operating in the U.S. as opposed to basing manufacturing operations overseas. Not just the energy costs, which we discussed above, but the labor costs as well.

Overseas laborers often performed unskilled tasks for absolutely miniscule pay. For many manufacturing companies, the sheer cost savings that came with switching to using labor from underdeveloped countries was too tempting to pass up. In order to guarantee competitive prices, it was necessary to cut costs in every aspect of the production process, especially labor.

However, in recent years, the average labor costs for unskilled labor in other countries has been on the rise, negating many of the cost advantages of using overseas labor. Not only that, but some manufacturing tasks require specialized skill sets and education, which necessitates the hiring of more expensive skilled laborers anyways.

Reason #4: Robotics

The labor cost advantage for U.S. manufacturing is further compounded by the increase in workplace automation in factories. Robots can do many tasks much faster and with greater consistency than human labor, but still require the support of a trained and experienced engineer in order to function at peak capacity.

For example, a robotic wire bending machine being monitored by a single engineer can make hundreds of bends in a quarter-inch thick length of wire per minute. With this speed, the robotic arm can make hundreds of complete wire forms per hour, where a single worker who is very skilled and experienced might be lucky to finish more than ten or twelve pieces of thick wire in that same time frame. Even with this engineer earning far more money than a traditional worker, he or she can get far more work done in the same amount of time.

Not only that, but the precision with which automated manufacturing equipment can produce items means that they’re more well-suited for use in products that require miniscule error tolerances. This opens up the potential client list of a manufacturer, such as what Marlin Steel was able to do after adopting our own automated manufacturing systems.

Think Positive

Right now, the future of manufacturing in the U.S. is looking bright. Naturally, we cannot know what’s in store for the future, but we think that there’s more than enough cause to be optimistic.

To learn more about manufacturing, and how workplace automation can help bring about a renaissance of American manufacturing, check out our other blog posts, or contact us. Marlin Steel’s engineers are happy to help answer your questions.

2,000 Days of Safety and Counting at Marlin Steel


Marlin Steel Manufacturing SafetyRecently, we made a blog post about how workplace automation improved safety among manufacturers. In that post, we mentioned that thanks to the adoption of automated manufacturing techniques, we have gone more than 2,000 days without a safety incident on our factory floor.

Well, we’re proud to state that we’re still more than 2,030 days without an accident (and counting)!

We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all of the people on our team who have diligently removed chances for accidents. Our team has an exceptional safety committee headed up by our Production Manager (Andy Croniser) and several key employees in maintenance and leaders in our sheet metal fabrication department and our custom wire basket department.

People ask how did you get such a long streak? Here are five approaches that have helped our safety success at Marlin:

  1. Empowered Safety Committee – they meet monthly and get what they want
  2. Creative Safety Committee – come up with outside of the box ideas to improve safety
  3. Inquisitive Safety Committee – They took tours to other phenomenal safe facilities (Acadia Doors and Windows in Baltimore County, MD) to cross pollinate and model some of their ideas.
  4. 80/20 – follow up with solutions the most likely problems that will cause future accidents.
  5. Embrace Suggestions – Marlin invited in OSHA (Thank You Allen Stump) and our worker’s compensation insurance company (Thank you CNA) for suggestions. They gave great ideas. We followed each idea and they made us better.

This safety committee has for years met monthly, grappled with near misses, promoted clever ideas to make a safe environment for their colleagues. They have shown tremendous tenacity – never giving up making a better and safer work environment.

Everyone at Marlin Steel is proud to be a part of the resurgence of American manufacturing. Through the use of innovative technologies combined with training and experience, our engineers are able to craft custom wire forms for all of your materials and parts handling needs.

To learn more about how automated manufacturing techniques have enabled more than half a decade of accident-free work, check out our blog post on the subject.