2010 Welding Showdown Displays Character and Skill of Today's Top Welders
Six finalists descend upon Appleton for a taste of Wisconsin hospitality and heated welding competition.
Six men—all skilled fabricators from different corners of the country and all with a different fabrication style—arrived at Miller Electric Mfg. Co. headquarters on September 28 to participate in Miller’s first Welding Showdown. Armed with a stockpile of materials (sheet metal, iron bars, rectangular tubing) and a fleet of Miller equipment (MIG and TIG welders, plasma cutters), each competitor was tasked with building a unique table w ith only the materials provided to them.
(See photos and videos documenting the entire competition here)
The finalists were narrowed down from almost 400 project entries. By reaching the Welding Showdown, each participant won a package that included an ArcStation™ 30SX welding workbench, an Arc Armor™ Welding Protection Package, and an all-expense-paid trip to Miller headquarters for the competition. The grand prize winner in each category won their choice of a Millermatic® 211 Auto-Set™ with MVP™ MIG welder with a Spoolmate™ 100 spool gun, a Diversion™ 180 TIG welding package, or a Spectrum® 375 X-TREME™ plasma cutter.
Eric Raffia (Enfield, Conn.) and Harvey Lacey (Wylie, Texas) competed in the Easy Category. Raffia fabricated a stainless steel day lily sculpture and Lacey built a concrete bucket to gain entry. Fabricators in the Easy Category were given three hours to complete their table, and both men accomplished the task within the allotted time—Raffia took home the grand prize with a long, rectangular decorative table. His prize of choice: the Millermatic 211 Auto-Set with MVP MIG welder and a Spoolmate™ 100 spool gun.
“We had a great time here at Miller,” says Raffia. “We had a great time together, and we’ve got guys with similar interests. The Miller people have been great. I can’t wait to get this piece of equipment home and try it. It worked well for us here today. We had a lot of fun—this is like ‘guy vacation,' the ultimate one, for guys who like to build stuff.”
Joshua Crowe and Thomas Patsis squared off in the Moderate Category, where each competitor was given four hours to build their table. Crowe, an off-road enthusiast and fabricator from Cedar Hill, Mo., gained entry to the contest by fabricating an aluminum off-road wagon (think: Radio Flyer with a lift kit). Patsis’ project also had an automotive theme: the Danville, Ill., fabricator submitted a highly detailed miniature funny car. Crowe’s table design—a display table suited for the showroom or the trade show—won over Patsis’ highly stylized rectangular table. Crowe chose the Diversion 180 TIG package as his prize.
“I’m really pumped to have won my category; it was really interesting to try something completely out of my element,” says Crowe. “I really enjoyed the whole process and the camaraderie that built between everyone here. I’m really excited to add another piece of Miller equipment to my shop. Getting to meet and see everything that is Miller was 100 percent enjoyable—I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.”
The Difficult Category featured a modestly described “epic” battle between Tim Bartosh of Albuquerque, N.M. and Matt Arnos of Napoleon, Ohio. Bartosh wowed judges and gained entry to the Showdown by submitting The DragonSlayer, a life-sized sculpture straight out of a fantasy adventure novel. Arnos impressed judges with his custom-designed compact excavator attachment. Each man had five hours to complete his table.
This category provided the greatest difference in fabrication and approach: Bartosh attacked his decorative table with style and flair, whereas Arnos skillfully built his lighted, collapsible nightstand with an engineer’s precision and practicality. Bartosh emerged victorious in the end, taking home the Diversion 180 TIG package.
“My intent coming here was really just to enjoy myself, and I have thoroughly,” says Bartosh. “These are great guys to compete against. It was a great experience.”
“We weren’t sure how these guys would handle being given an assignment the night before, especially not knowing what materials they’d have at their disposal,” says John Swartz, product manager and Showdown judge, Miller Electric Mfg. Co. “Each of these guys came prepared, however, and really impressed us with their craftsmanship and the willingness and ability to improvise. Each of these guys has a lot to be proud of and we look forward to keep building on the experience of this competition.”