If you've seen welding equipment in a recent movie or on television, odds are it was made by Lincoln Electric. Precision TIG 375 welder, for instance, helps Tony Stark fabricate his various Iron Man suits in his high-tech workshop, for example.
If it's good enough for a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist to build a super powered mechanical armor, then, theoretically, it should be equally suited to create a real- life fighting mech, right?
This may sound like a crazy leap in logic, but as implausible as most Hollywood plots are, their prop departments are pretty darn accurate — most likely because they listen to engineers and not writers.
And engineers have trusted the equipment for more than a century. Since 1895, Lincoln Electric has grown to 63 manufacturing plants around the world.
But it was its local ties in Cleveland that led them to MegaBots' workshop, called Fortress One. Craig Coffey, Lincoln's director of marketing, heard from his former company, Parker Hannifin, that some roboticists on the West Coast were building a huge hydraulically powered fighting mech, and they were looking for some welding equipment.
|The Precision TIG 275 is found in machine shops, at jobsites, and even secret giant robot-building lairs.|
When you routinely work with superheroes, you can be choosy about what projects you support. Anyone can say they want to build a giant robot, but for Lincoln to loan out equipment that costs more than a new car, that robot better do something monumental.
And MegaBots certainly meets that criteria. It has challenged a Japanese company to a duel, with the pride of each nation's engineering honor on the line.
“If we thought that this project was only about building a big hydraulic robot that could smash stuff, we probably would have passed," Coffey says. "We look it as a way to shine a light on the practical application of technology—from engineering to manufacturing—that involves welding and much more. It makes the abstract more concrete.”
The CNC plasma cutting table came directly off the set of Spider-man: Homecoming, and was used for a lot of the superstructure building, as it can cut sheet metal up to 1/3 inches in thickness.
|The Torchmate 4800 is a 4 x8 ft. plasma cutting table that lasts 3x longer than the competition and comes in at a price that is 45% lower than the competition, according to the manufacturer.|
MegaBots also used the Viking Steampunk welding helmet, which offers 4C Lens technology for superior clarity and reduced eye strain.
Although Coffey didn't know it at the time, Lincoln's new goal of shedding a new light on welding coincides with MegaBots' primary mission: to make STEM careers look cool again.
The skills gap is no secret, and industry's reaction to it could determine America's standing in the world for the rest for the century.
Manufacturing and other industries could have a deficit of 291,000 welders by 2020, the American Welding Society predicts.
That's obviously troubling to Lincoln, akin to Oscar Meyer finding out that the vegetarian/ vegan population in America has grown from 1% to 5% since 2009.
One way Lincoln plans to fight it is a new $30 million welding technology center near its headquarters in Euclid, Ohio, opening this year. The 130,000-square foot complex will provide welding instructors and leaders, as well as veterans, with the latest in welding training, including augmented and virtual reality tech.
|Lincoln's VRTEX 360 Virtual Training Welder allows easy entry and acclimation into what has been stereotyped as a "dark and dirty" profession.|
That should have a huge impact on awareness, but it doesn't have the same ring as their welding equipment helping build a terrifyingly awesome industrial giant.
Melding practical education with flashy super powered projects, though. That's a team-up that just might work.
“For the last 100 years, the perception of welding has been that it’s dark, dirty and dangerous,” Coffey says. “Our future depends on us demystifying welding in ways that meet as wide an audience as possible.”