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Re: Fwd: FYI ... Hey TT ... have a look at this ...!

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  • donlpete
    Very interesting. Thanks for sharing the article. Don
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 1, 2010
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      Very interesting. Thanks for sharing the article.


      --- In metalshapers@yahoogroups.com, Terry Thorne <oldgoaly@...> wrote:
      > This is from John Washbush, I hope you find it interesting sorry I don't
      > have a link, but will look for it. All credit to The Washington Post and its
      > staff. tt
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      > LETTER FROM JAPANA hammer -- yes, that low-tech tool -- helps mold noses of
      > Japan's bullet trains
      > PHOTOS
      > Previous Next
      > [image: A hammer-wielding craftsman at Yamashita Kogyosho Co. is fashioning
      > a nose for the latest-model Japanese bullet train, the E-6 series, scheduled
      > to go into service in 2013.]
      > A hammer-wielding craftsman at Yamashita Kogyosho Co. is fashioning a nose
      > for the latest-model Japanese bullet train, the E-6 series, scheduled to go
      > into service in 2013. (Courtesy Of East Japan Railway Co. Courtesy Of
      > Yamashita Kogyosho Co.)
      > By Blaine Harden<http://projects.washingtonpost.com/staff/articles/blaine+harden/>
      > Washington Post Foreign Service
      > Sunday, March 28, 2010
      > KUDAMATSU, JAPAN -- No objects in Japan embody sleek design and cutting-edge
      > technology like the noses of bullet trains. Decades of computer-aided
      > engineering have gone into those curvaceous snouts.
      > It is a shock, then, to learn that they are banged out -- one piece at a
      > time -- with a hammer you can buy at the Home Depot.
      > The banging happens here in Kudamatsu, a small factory town at the southern
      > end of Japan's main island. Eight craftsmen use hammers to bend and twist
      > thin sheets of aluminum, which are then welded together to create the
      > graceful swoops of metal that cover the front of a bullet train.
      > With diligence and good muscle memory, it takes a young man about 10 years
      > to really know what he is doing with a hammer, to be able to intuitively
      > sense from the sound and feel of a hammer's blow how each aluminum sheet is
      > taking shape.
      > It is manufacturing as performance art. There are no manuals. Perfection is
      > never possible. One learns by banging. Over time, it makes you hard of
      > hearing.
      > That's what Kiyoto Yamashita says, and he ought to know. Fifty-six years
      > ago, when he was 17, he created the only company in the world that makes
      > bullet-train noses with hammers.
      > Six generations of high-speed trains later, his company -- now run by his
      > son, Tatsuto -- is still unique. It has just finished banging out a
      > prototype for the E-6 series, the latest bullet-train design for the East
      > Japan Railway Co.
      > The elder Yamashita was swinging a sweet hammer back in the early '60s,
      > knocking dents out of bumpers in a Kudamatsu auto body shop, when engineers
      > from the local Hitachi train factory came looking for someone who could
      > fashion a metal box that would fit on a steam locomotive.
      > He hammered and welded together such a good box that Hitachi remembered him
      > when Japanese National Railways was in a rush to build high-speed rail in
      > time for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
      > As a subcontractor to Hitachi, Yamashita made prototypes for the first
      > bullet train, Shinkansen. He built a company that thrived as high-speed
      > passenger trains became a key factor in Japan's postwar economic rise.
      > Shinkansen trains have carried more than 7 billion passengers without a
      > fatal accident. They are fast and getting faster -- up to 200 miles an hour
      > for the latest series, which will debut in 2013. They are also comfortable,
      > elegant and energy-efficient, and they run on time.
      > The nose of a bullet train is not particularly well-suited to the expensive
      > and highly specialized mass-production machinery that molds and cuts metal
      > to make hundreds of thousands of cars, trucks and toasters. The number of
      > high-speed locomotives built for each bullet-train series in Japan is quite
      > limited, from 40 to 120.
      > In Yamashita's small factory, metal workers pound together a new nose every
      > week or so. There are other ways to make one, but Yamashita's method is
      > flexible, reliable and relatively cheap. When engineers demand sudden design
      > changes, the company does not have to rebuild elaborate machines. Workers
      > simply pound out new shapes.
      > The company estimates that it has built noses for about 30 percent of all
      > the bullet trains in Japan, as well as high-speed trains in China, South
      > Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.
      > "The most cost-efficient way of transferring computer-assisted 3-D design to
      > metal is with a hammer," said Tatsuto Yamashita, who, unlike his father,
      > never spent much time swinging a hammer.
      > "My father told me that if I took over the business, it would go broke," he
      > said.
      > So the son moved away from Kudamatsu, attended business school in Tokyo and
      > worked in Australia and Europe. His parents invited him back home three
      > years ago to run the company.
      > Since his return, his most urgent concern has been finding more men -- and
      > perhaps women -- who are willing to learn the craft of metal shaping. Most
      > of his current workers are on the far side of 50, and it will take a decade
      > for newcomers to acquire enough skills to replace them.
      > "We cannot keep up with demand," he said. "It is not easy to find people to
      > do this work because most Japanese have never even heard of this skill."
      > Hoping to increase awareness, the company has built cellos and violins out
      > of hammered aluminum and dispatched them as recruitment tools to exhibitions
      > and events across Japan. The instruments are sleek, handsome and light, but
      > they sound tinny.
      > "We are working on that," Yamashita said.
      > The company hopes to lure a world-famous cellist to perform with one of its
      > instruments, which Yamashita thinks would be a sure-fire recruiting gambit.
      > "Please tell Yo-Yo Ma he is welcome anytime," Yamashita said.
      > *Special correspondent Akiko Yamamoto contributed to this report*.
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