If someone mentions “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” to you, what’s the first thing you think of?
For me, at least during the last few years, it’s sheet metal.
Sitting in the movie theater a few weeks ago watching “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” 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.
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’s 1977.
But the story just shows that sheet metal works companies that specialize in architectural sheet metal make a lot more than just ducts. We’ve interviewed contractors who manufacture custom kitchen counters and cabinets, as well as sculptures. And when you think about it, is an R2-D2 that much different than the tin man than graces the lobbies and exteriors of many sheet metal shops across North America?
What's the most interesting non-HVAC, non ductwork fabrication project you've been involved in?