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Metal Surfraces get a blast of efficency


March 23, 2009
by By: Corinne Lynds, Senior Editor

Bjorn Tranebo, vice-president and general manager, and Doug LoFranco, vice-president of OEM sales for the Americas at the Burlington, Ont. Wheelabrator manufacturing facility.
Photo: Stephen Uhraney

Economic conditions being what they are, manufacturers are looking for any advantage that will streamline operations and reduce cost. That’s where the wheelabrator Group in Burlington, Ont. fits into fabricators’ efforts to make more efficent use of energey, reduce waste and cut costs.

The company’s lineup of roll conveyor blast cabinets, designed and manufactured in Canada, provide surface preparation solutions for fabricators serving a range of industries, including aerospace, automotive, foundry/forge, general manufacturing, medical, primary steel, railway and marine.

One of its latest systems is the AutoBlast Roll Conveyor, an alternative to manual air blasting, which offers 100% blast coverage. The system’s controlled cycle results in more units cleaned in a shorter amount of time, increasing overall productivity. Designed to descale and remove rust from plate and structural members prior to fabrication, it uses four EZEFIT wheels that blast steel shot abrasive at a velocity of 265-feet per second. This velocity has proven to be optimal in removing rust and other containments from plates and structural steel, and the EZEFIT wheels cut cycle times 20% to 50 per cent.

“Ours is a niche technology designed for surface treatment of a material,” explains Doug LoFranco, vice-president of sales and an engineer at Wheelabrator, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in the fall. “When I say material, that means it can be anything from putting a texture on paving stones to hip joints or knee joints for implants. It could be for aerospace, plain steel to be used for the marine industry or even putting up buildings.”

Blast systems
The parent company, based in Denver, Colo., has two manufacturing facilities where it manufactures a range of air-blast equipment. Standard and special air-blast solutions include suction and pressure-fed machines for dry blasting and finishing, and equipment for the peening (the hardening of a metal surface by hammering, or blasting with shot) of critical components. The company designs and manufactures custom air blast cabinets, blast rooms and CNC automated equipment at the Burlington location, which employs 100 people. Its LaGrange, Ga. facility, employing 120, houses parts manufacturing and the demonstration centre.