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Bending/Folding

Waste not, want not

By Julie Sammarco

One metal fabricator uses recycled materials to create quality products

April 2012 - Planned obsolescence is a business strategy in which the obsolescence (the process of becoming obsolete—that is, unfashionable or no longer usable) of a product is built into it from its conception. This is done to ensure the consumer feels a need to purchase new products and services that the manufacturer brings out as replacements for the old ones, according to The Economist.

Take, for instance, the automobile. Its greater durability has made consumers reluctant to change their models as frequently as they used to. As the useful life of the car has been extended, manufacturers have focused on shortening its fashionable life. By adding styling and cosmetic changes to their vehicles, they have attempted to make their older models look outdated, thus persuading consumers to trade them in for new ones.

Will Wagenaar does not approve of this. He has built an at-home business around making long-lasting, quality products with durable materials. His mission, in part, is to combat planned obsolescence by using recycled materials. “I hate things that break, snap or crack,” he says. “We waste materials as a society. That bothers me. Also, modern products have been reduced to the cheapest and least-durable materials possible. My use of heavy, durable materials is a reaction to an unceasing trend of planned obsolescence.”

For recycling
With a background in interior design, Wagenaar believes the quality of household products has decreased over the years. He has been using recycled materials to create products for nearly 16 years. After leaving the design industry, he started his own business. He works full-time from his basement, which is lined with shelves full of materials, including metals, all sorted into categories. One room is set aside as a workroom.

Previously, Wagenaar exclusively made candleholders, lamps, chandeliers, tables, stools and chairs from recycled solid copper, brass and aluminum. Today, while he still makes certain household products, he has focused his attention on his popularized robots, made from the same materials. He doesn’t weld or solder, everything he makes is cold process construction. He uses hand tools and bending to create the detailed projects. Hammers, screw drivers, pliers and a utility knife help bend metal parts. One parts are bent, they are bolted together.

Changing gears from creating household products to making miniature robotic toys he calls his “creatures” seems like an bold move. For Wagenaar, it was, in part, the shift in clientele that made him comfortable with the switch.

“I like to get reactions from people, especially children,” he says. “I like bringing materials to life, the character that I create. The message of recycling and creative reuse is an important one. My creatures help to convey that.”

Besides his passion for creating quality products from recycled materials, he also chooses to use those materials because of cost and convenience. “Recycled stuff is readily available and it's inexpensive,” he says. While he does create figurines and unique residential products by hand, he does not consider himself an artist or metalworker. He chooses to make his products because he enjoys recycling and reusing quality materials to ensure the production of quality parts.

“Castoffs were available in the metals that I liked,” he says. “But when you break it down, I do the work because it's all about my compulsion to recycle. Metal was just there.”

“I don't think of myself as a metalworker or even a sculptor in the traditional sense,” he says. He works to build quality products that will last a lifetime. FFJ

Sources

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Company Profiles

AIR FILTRATION

IRONWORKERS

NESTING SOFTWARE

SERVICE CENTERS

Camfil APC - Equipment Trilogy Machinery Inc. Metamation Inc. Admiral Steel
Camfil APC - Replacement Filters

LASER TECHNOLOGY

PLASMA TECHNOLOGY

Alliance Steel
Donaldson Company Inc. AMADA AMERICA, INC. Messer Cutting Systems Inc.

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BENDING/FOLDING

Mazak Optonics Corp.

PLATE

Enmark Systems Inc.
MetalForming Inc. MC Machinery Systems Inc. Peddinghaus Lantek Systems Inc.
RAS Systems LLC Murata Machinery, USA, Inc.

PLATE & ANGLE ROLLS

SecturaSOFT

BEVELING

TRUMPF Inc. Davi Inc. SigmaTEK Systems LLC
Steelmax Tools LLC

LINEAR POSITION SENSORS

Trilogy Machinery Inc. Striker Systems

COIL PROCESSING

MTS Sensors

PRESS BRAKE TOOLING

STAMPING/PRESSES

Bradbury Group

MATERIAL HANDLING

Mate Precision Tooling AIDA-America Corp.
Burghardt + Schmidt Group EMH Crane Rolleri USA Nidec Press & Automation
Butech Bliss Fehr Warehouse Solutions Inc.

PRESS BRAKES

STEEL

Red Bud Industries UFP Industrial AMADA AMERICA, INC. Alliance Steel
Tishken

MEASUREMENT & QUALITY CONTROL

Automec Inc.

TUBE & PIPE

CONVEYOR SYSTEMS

Advanced Gauging Technologies MC Machinery Systems Inc. BLM Group
Mayfran International

METAL FABRICATION MACHINERY

SafanDarley HGG Profiling Equipment Inc.

DEBURRING/FINISHING

Cincinnati Inc.

PUNCHING

Prudential Stainless & Alloys
ATI Industrial Automation LVD Strippit Hougen Manufacturing

WATERJET

Lissmac Corp. Scotchman Industries Inc.

SAWING

Barton International
Osborn Trilogy Machinery Inc. Behringer Saws Inc. Jet Edge Waterjet Systems
SuperMax Tools

METAL FORMING

Cosen Saws Omax Corp.
Timesavers FAGOR Arrasate USA Inc. DoALL Sawing

WELDING

HYDRAULIC PRESSES

MetalForming Inc. HE&M Saw American Weldquip
Beckwood Press Co.

MICROFINISHING TOOLS

Savage Saws Strong Hand Tools
Triform Titan Tool Supply Inc.

 

T. J. Snow Company

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