Alcoa's 50,000-Ton forging press in Cleveland is "one of the great machines of American industry." Built in 1955, the "Fifty" broke down three years ago, and Alcoa considered scrapping it. But it's back in operation. Tim Heffernan has the story in The Atlantic.
A forging press is -- begging the forgiveness of the engineering gods -- essentially a waffle iron for metal. An ingot, usually heated to increase its malleability, is placed on the lower of a pair of dies. The upper die is then gradually forced down against the ingot, and the metal flows to fill both dies and form the intended shape. In this way, extremely complex structures can be created quickly and with minimal waste.
What sets the Fifty apart is its extraordinary scale. Its 14 major structural components, cast in ductile iron, weigh as much as 250 tons each; those yard-thick steel bolts are also 78 feet long; all told, the machine weighs 16 million pounds, and when activated its eight main hydraulic cylinders deliver up to 50,000 tons of compressive force. If the logistics could somehow be worked out, the Fifty could bench-press the battleship Iowa, with 860 tons to spare.
It is this power, combined with amazing precision—its tolerances are measured in thousandths of an inch—that gives the Fifty its far-reaching utility. It has made essential parts for industrial gas turbines, helicopters, and spacecraft. Every manned U.S. military aircraft now flying uses parts forged by the Fifty. So does every commercial aircraft made by Airbus and Boeing.
Iron Giant: One of America’s great machines comes back to life.
Do you own a Samsung smartphone? Do you take photos with said phone? Congratulations, there’s an excellent chance that your handset is randomly firing off those pictures you’ve snapped to folks on your contact list without your permission. According to The Verge, the images are being pushed out by Samsung’s cleverly named default messaging app, […]
When you live full-time in a motorhome, no matter how big it is, there’s not a lot of room for extras. In order to have enough space to be comfortable, its necessary to strip your belongings down to the essentials. A library full of books gives way to e-readers and tablets. Full-sized anything? You’re gonna […]
On Monday, the Supreme Court will review the 9th Circuit's decision in Apple Inc. v. Pepper, in which the plaintiffs argue that Apple has established a monopoly over apps for Ios (this part is actually incontrovertible, as Apple has used both technology and law to prevent rival app stores from operating), and that Iphone and […]
Summer’s here, which brings not only warmer weather but also the unsettling realization that the year is more than halfway over. So, for those who weren’t as productive as they would have liked during the first half of 2018, we’ve rounded up 5 skill course bundles you can start learning today to help you finish […]
It’s good to be proactive, but when it comes to preparing for an emergency situation, one of the most important items you can pack is a flashlight. After all, whatever else you include in your kit won’t be of much use if you can’t see what you’re doing. The Viper 1000-Lumen Tactical Flashlights not only […]
Chances are you took a handful of language classes in high school, and aside from a smattering of conjugations and vocabulary words, the only things you likely remember are the dry, rehearsed sentences that did little to make you speak like a true native. If you’re still hoping to learn a new language but want […]