When news broke of the earthquake-damaged nuclear plant in Japan, my mind turned to Jim Bleigh at Performance Contracting Inc., a Lenexa, Kan., company The FABRICATOR covered earlier this year. His group of talented welders, laser cutting machine operators, and assemblers fabricated strainers designed for use in Japan’s nuclear power plants.
When researching the story, I learned that these strainers help prevent what I thought at the time was an extraordinarily unlikely scenario: a nuclear meltdown. Fully assembled, the strainers help filter debris so that the pumps never become clogged and the flow of water back to the reactor is never blocked.
The strainer was designed with 1-in.-thick stainless steel sections, literally thousands of them. Why 1 in. thick? As Bleigh told me, it was to meet the Japanese nuclear industry’s unique seismic requirements. The 1-in.-thick stainless steel components cut on the company’s 7-kW laser were built to withstand unthinkable disasters.