If someone mentions “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” to you, what’s the first thing you think of?
Spaceships? Lightsaber battles? A bunch of geeky men wearing Stormtrooper costumes parading around at a science fiction convention?
For me, at least during the last few years, it’s sheet metal.
Sitting in the movie theater a few weeks ago watching the first new “Star Wars” movie in a decade, I couldn’t help but think about the material. Maybe it comes from the years of covering the industry for Snips, but the “Star Wars” films are almost as full of sheet metal as they are of weird aliens and men walking around in capes and cloaks.
From robotic droids such as C3PO and R2-D2 to the battle-scarred ships that populate the far, far away galaxy created by George Lucas, “Star Wars” is full of sheet metal.
It reminded me why we put “Star Wars” on the cover of Snips in November 2011, even though at the time, the idea that there would ever be more films in the series was even more of a fantasy than the original film trilogy.
Former associate editor James J. Siegel — a huge “Star Wars” fan himself — had discovered a fan club in Sacramento, California, that used the sheet metal forming machinery of a local company to fabricate replica robots that may be more intricate than what Lucas built for the first “Star Wars” film 38 years ago. The group’s R2-D2 looked as if it could have rolled in from a planet a long time ago.
Apparently, there’s a worldwide group of “Star Wars” enthusiasts who make such products with the blessing of the film studio — as long as they don’t try to profit off their handiwork. When Siegel first told me about the club and how they use sheet metal equipment to make their droids, I thought it would be a great story for Snips, even if a quick look at the cover art director Nicole Bonkoski designed to accompany the story might have made readers think it was 1977.
But the story just proved what I’ve long said about the sheet metal and HVAC construction industry: The very talented people who work in this field make a lot more than just ducts. And when you think about it, is an R2-D2 that much different than the tin man that graces the lobbies and exteriors of many sheet metal shops across North America?
If you’ve ever made anything unusual out of sheet metal, whether as part of a project or just as a hobby to keep your skills sharp, I’d love to hear about it. Email me at email@example.com or contact us through one of our social media channels.