Advantages of Choosing Framing Tech’s T-slotted Aluminum Extrusion Over Welded Steel

aluminum-extrusionThere are many benefits to using T-slotted aluminum extrusions over welded steel. In addition to being cost effective, aluminum extrusion is much easier to work with and offers engineers flexibility, even after the initial design. Aluminum is also strong enough to handle most manufacturing and assembly applications. Here are some other advantages to using T-slotted aluminum extrusion over welded steel:

Cost effective

First, aluminum extrusion costs less than welding steel. The price of aluminum and steel fluctuate based on global supply and demand. While aluminum typically costs more, in terms of raw materials, you have to take labor costs into consideration. Steel frames have to be welded, which means holes have to be drilled and tapped. The frame also has to be painted. On the other hand, aluminum extrusion is modular. It has T-slots on all four sides so you never have to drill or tape holes.

More Flexibility

Aluminum extrusion also gives engineers flexibility after the initial design of an automation project has been completed. With steel frames, you have to be very accurate up front before you start cutting the tubes. Therefore, you can’t make any mistakes with steel welding. Need to add, move or subtract a rail? No problem, just modify as required and you are all done!

Easier to work with

Aluminum extrusion is more versatile and more flexible than welded steel, which makes it easier to work with. The key features that allow this are the extrusion’s modular T-slot design. It’s as simple as inserting a connector into the T-slot and tightening. There’s no need to clamp, weld or paint. All you have to do is piece together and tighten the connectors with basic hand tools. T-slots let you attach components at any time and any location – it doesn’t get much easier than that.

Strong and corrosion resistant

Some engineers question the structural integrity of aluminum material. However, profiles can be made as strong as needed. There are many different profile sizes with varying wall thicknesses so picking the right profile based on the application will make for a successful solution. Cold-weather applications made with aluminum fair particularly well as the aluminum actually becomes stronger as the temperature drops. Anodized Aluminum is also corrosion resistant, which means that it will not rust and it holds up well in an exterior environment.

It’s cleaner too

With aluminum extrusion, the finish is much cleaner than welding. As you may know, welding is the process of joining two materials together by causing coalescence. This can be potentially hazardous and extremely dirty. Obviously, welding creates a permanent joint. Therefore, if the outcome is not right, parts will need to be fixed or replaced later. With aluminum extrusion, parts come together and apart easily and without the mess or hassle. Plus, there is no additional time needed to refine the welded joints.

Considering using aluminum extrusion for your next project? The staff at Framing Tech welcomes the opportunity to earn your business! Please contact us, you can call, email or stop in for a tour today and our sales engineering team will be more than happy to provide you with assistance.

Chris Hill is the President and CEO of Framing Technology, Inc. Connect with him on and Twitter.

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5 Simple Tips for Welding Aluminum

Welding it togetherIf you ever stop to admire the structure of a building, the design of a car, or even just examine the pipes in your house, you can bet on one thing.  There was welding involved.  Welding is a fairly simple concept: joining two metal objects to become one strong, final piece. Welding aluminum, however, is an often tricky and frustrating process.  So why learn?  Well, aluminum has many advantages, including its light weight, ductility, corrosion resistance, and more.  And at the end of the day, practice makes perfect.  Anyone can weld aluminum if they’re dedicated.  Take a look at these five tips to help you through the beginning of the aluminum welding process.

Know Your Welding Process

MIG welder, TIG welder, Arc welder, which type to choose? They all have their advantages for certain metals, but for aluminum, you’re going to want to go with a TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) welder.  TIG welding is the mostly widely used type for aluminum.  You can’t just pick up a TIG welder and know how to use it instantly, but it will create clean welds when those pretty “showroom” finishes really count.

Know The Difference in Alloys

In order to keep yourself safe, you should know what type of aluminum you’re welding.  Here are the heat-treatable aluminum alloys:

2000 series- Aluminum and copper.

6000 series – Aluminum, magnesium, and silicon.

7000 series – Aluminum and zinc

Cleaning

People who are new to aluminum welding are known to waste a lot of metal in practice.  Why?  The aluminum isn’t clean, and that makes for a poor welding process. If you want to avoid being one of these people, rinse and scrub your aluminum thoroughly before welding.  There’s a good chance oil, grease, and other contaminants are on there. Even if it doesn’t look dirty to you, it probably is.

Preheating

The general recommendation for pre-heating an alloy looms around 250 – 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  With aluminum, however, you’re going to need to play around a little bit to see what preheat temperature works for you.  Start lower.

When welding the aluminum, you’re going to need equipment that gets really, really hot.  Simple as that.  Don’t use pre-heating as a way to get around equipment limitations – it just won’t work!  Wear thicker gloves, and remember, aluminum is conductive to heat.

Tungsten Tips

Tungsten is a whole different ballgame when it comes to aluminum welding.  You could talk to 20 different people and they’ll all tell you something different about what tungsten to use.  You can use 2% Thoriated (Red).  You can use Pure (Green).  You could use 2% Ceriated (Orange).  Some electrodes will be cheaper, others will be more expensive.  You’ll have to test, judge, and see what you’re happy with.  When it gets contaminated, stop welding and fix it with your gloves on.

And remember, before you do any welding on your own, take welding classes and consult professionals.  Safety is the key in welding.

Chris Hill is the President and CEO of Framing Technology, Inc. Connect with him on and Twitter.

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The Aluminum Extruding Process

Aluminum extrusion is the process of transforming aluminum alloy(s) into a specific cross-sectional profile. Remember using the play-doh® shape maker? Just a squeeze on the handle and the doh would come out whatever shape the plastic faceplate was. Aluminum extrusion is made in a similar fashion but with the added element of high heat and high [hydraulic] pressure. Aluminum has many unique physical characteristics, which makes the extrusion process very practicable. Its malleability allows it to be easily machined or cast, while aluminum’s structural rigidity offers strength and stability. For these reasons, aluminum is used for a wide range of purposes!

extrusion_process_5When selecting an aluminum extrusion, consider the following:

  • How it will be used
  • Machining requirements
  • Surface finish and overall finish
  • Operating conditions

Uses of Aluminum Extrusion

Today, aluminum extrusions are utilized in a variety of industries including automotive, medical, food, architectural, and more. Depending on how it will be used, aluminum extrusion can be tailored for different needs. Aluminum offers high conductivity of heat and electricity, which makes it ideal for radiators and air conditioners. It also has a low weight to high strength ratio, making it perfect for aircraft, cars and railway coaches. Because aluminum is corrosion resistant, it can be used in exterior, mining and military armaments. Aluminum is also used for wiring and cables, due to its non-magnetic properties.

Machining Requirements

There is no material more suited to high speed machining than aluminum. Most alloys are typically machined with common high speed steel or carbide tooling. Cutting, drilling or milling slots, holes or pockets are easily achieved using minimal coolants and tool lubrication due to the silicon content of many aluminum alloys.

Surface finish

Surface finishing is the process of enhancing the properties of aluminum. Surface treatments can modify the surface of the metal in many ways, including hardness and abrasion resistance, alter its appearance, decorate the metal, assist the adhesion of paint, varnish and bonding adhesives, and provide further protection from corrosion while imparting a durable appearance.

Hot and Cold Extrusion

Operating conditions directly affect the life of aluminum. For instance, temperature has the largest effect on aluminum. The extrusion process can be done with the material hot or cold. Hot extrusion is done above the material’s recrystallization temperature to keep the material from work hardening and makes it easier to push the material through the die. Cold extrusion is done at room temperature, which allows for higher strength, good surface finish and fast extrusion speeds.

Framing Tech Profiles

Our profiles typically utilize the alloy 6063-T6 for the best combination of strength, machinability and high-aesthetic, clear anodized finish.

Chris Hill is the President and CEO of Framing Technology, Inc. Connect with him on and Twitter.

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The Benefits of an Ergonomic Workstation

What is ergonomic?

Medical Dictionary definition: The applied science of equipment design, as for the workplace, intended to maximize productivity by reducing operator fatigue and discomfort.

Ergonomic. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Stedman’s Medical Dictionary. Retrieved December 09, 2013, from Dictionary.com website.

workstationA workstation is typically where one person works at a particular task or operation. An office desk could be considered a personal workstation. For the use in a manufacturing environment what choices are available? Usually just a run of the mill wooden desk or stamped steel table is converted for use. This is usually far from optimal for the task(s) being performed at the station.

The use of modular aluminum framing offers the perfect solution, allowing infinite customization in today’s evolving manufacturing environment. Framing Tech has years of experience not just working with our products but applying them in many unique manufacturing environments from Pharmaceutical, clean-room, automotive, military, electronic assembly, etc.

The workstation should be configured using lean principals which allow only having materials and tools at the station that are required for that shift’s operation. Many options can be supplied to make the operator comfortable and maximize efficiency. Any small part requirements can be supplied within an acceptable reach-zone at optimal height and presentation via simple bin-rails or articulating arm assemblies. Other helpful options are on-station task lighting, power-strips, tool or cup holders, storage drawers, tool hangers, adjustable footrests, etc. Computers can also be effectively placed on or below the work surface as well as the monitor, keyboard and mouse, which can be located on a pullout drawer. Work tops can be wood, laminate, composite, chemically resistant, ESD, etc. The back uprights can contain back panels for noise abatement, privacy, process-document presentation and more. Height adjustability is also an option via hand-crank or electric motor actuation to allow for operators of different sizes to perform the same tasks in a comfortable fashion.

Using t-slotted aluminum framing allows for an evolving manufacturing environment. With product life cycles changing at a more rapid rate this type of workstation can easily be reconfigured by adding, subtracting or re-positioning optional equipment.

What are the benefits?

Increased Productivityworkstation2

Making your workstation ergonomic increases your productivity – so it’ll take you less time to complete a task. And you’ll have more energy! You’ll also have greater job satisfaction. Even though you have to spend money on new workstations, it’s certainly cost effective. A secondary benefit is to get management involved with their work-force & asking for input from the operators on what might make them more efficient in the form of better product or tool placement, personal item storage areas, etc. The morale boost alone might be worth the expense of upgrading old work benches to a new high-tech, 21st century product.

Improved Health

We all know how important health and safety is to an office or manufacturing environment. Unfortunately, bad workstations are notoriously synonymous with carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive stress injuries. If you make your workstations ergonomic, you’ll see a decrease in worker’s compensation claims. You’ll also see a decrease in worker absences.

Of course, simply making your workstation ergonomic won’t solve every problem. It’s always recommended that you step away from your workstation a handful of times during the day, perhaps to do a little exercise. You should light your office correctly so you’re not hurting your eyes, arrange your workspace, and do whatever else you can to improve the quality of your work day.

Chris Hill is the President and CEO of Framing Technology, Inc. Connect with him on and Twitter.

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How to Assemble an Aluminum Work Table

When receiving a kit-form solution from Framing Tech, you will get a complete ready to assemble solution. The aluminum extrusion will be machined and labeled. The parts will be packaged individually with their proper hardware. A bill of material list will be provided along with a drawing of how to put the solution together. For an example, we will use a standard Framing Tech “Work Table.” When you first receive the kit, please open the bill of material and check to see that all components are accounted for.

Bill of Material (BOM)

FT-BillofMaterialFT-worktable

The first part of this bill of material list will show what type of material, the machining of each piece, the quantity, and the length of each extrusion. The item number corresponds to the balloon numbers on the drawing. The second part of the bill of material list will show the items that are included in order to assemble the kit.

Technical Drawings

FT-TechnicalDrawingsFT-worktable2The drawing that is included in the kit, should be used for reference to tell the assembler where parts go and if any additional notes. A quick rendering of what the final solution would look like will also be attached to the drawing.

Assembly Instructions

To assemble the work table follow the below steps:

  1. Make sure that the leveling foot (LF60NNM1266) stud has a jam nut threaded on before inserting it into the end of piece #1. Next with a rubber mallet tap the leveling foot pad onto the ball end of the stud. Repeat for the other 3 legs.
  2. Next load the struts with the quick connectors (QC10V), by first inserting the barrel part first into the 17mm diameter holes, and then inserting the bolt into the profiles center bore. Tighten the set screw until it just grabs the bolt.
  3. Now for the construction, this can be done any which way you desire, the way we suggest is:
  • Build the table upside down on a hard surface.
  • Grab pieces #1, 2, 3, and 6.
  • Place piece #2 down with 3/16” drilled holes facing upward and the smooth side facing outward (Remember we are building the table upside down).
  • Then place piece #1, with the leveling foot pad facing up, over the bolts hammer head. Once in place tighten the quick connector to draw piece #1 into piece #2. Do the same to the other end, and repeat this step for the other side of the table.
  • Place both pieces #3 down with the 3/16” drilled holes facing upward and the smooth side facing outward (mirrored). Square off one end and measure and mark distance for placement of piece #6. With the 3/16” drilled holes facing up, slide the bolt of the quick connector on piece #6 in to the T-slots of piece #3. Place into position and tighten both quick connectors of piece #6.
  • Next, with “Step e” still down place one of the sides from “Step d” over the bolt’s hammer head, of piece #3s, and tighten the quick connectors. Repeat this step for the other side.
  • Grab pieces #4 and 5.
  • Place both piece #4s onto flat surface with the smooth sides facing outward (mirrored). Square off one end and measure and mark the distance for the placement of piece#5. Slide one of the pieces #4, over the bolt of one end of piece #5, and place into position and tighten the quick connector on piece #5. Repeat for other side.
  • Mark and measure the distance need for the lower shelf, on all the pieces of #1.
  • Tip work table on to the front face (long side down).
  • Next slide and place the loose piece #5 in between the pieces of #1, and tighten the quick connectors.
  • Slide the shelf sub assembly “Step h” in between the pieces of the #1s and tighten all 4 quick connectors.
  • Tip table right side up and check to make sure all connections are squared.
  • Using a level on the top rails, adjust the leveling feet by unscrewing the stud until table is level. Once into position tighten the jam nut.
  • This kit does not come with a table top unless ordered. However with a table top placed squarely on to the frame, the assembler only has to screw into the top through the 3/16” drilled holes on the bottom of pieces #2, 3, and 6.

Chris Hill is the President and CEO of Framing Technology, Inc. Connect with him on and Twitter.

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Properties and Uses of Aluminum

aluminumFrom aircraft parts to aluminum foil— aluminum has a varied of uses. Aluminum is both lightweight and durable. It’s also the third most abundant metal in the Earth’s crust. Are you intrigued yet?

Today, aluminum is the second most used metal after steel. To give you a better idea, more aluminum is produced each year than all other non-ferrous metals combined. Aluminum is most commonly used in aerospace, transportation and structural materials.

Properties of aluminum

Aluminum is found in oxides or silicates. Because of its strong affinity to oxygen, it almost never occurs naturally in metallic form. Aluminum is resistant to corrosion, which means it does not rust. It’s low in density and is non-magnetic. The strength levels of certain aluminum alloys are similar to those of structural steels. Aluminum also has excellent electrical and thermal conductivity.

Uses of aluminum

Due to its many useful properties, aluminum is used in a variety of products. For example, aluminum is often used for kitchen utensils, window frames, aircraft parts, engines, kegs, soda cans, and structural framing. It’s also is used in electrical products such as light bulbs, power and phone lines. Lastly, aluminum is used in a variety of methods including fusion and resistant welding, brazing, soldering, adhesive bonding, and mechanical methods like riveting and bolting.

Some unusual uses of aluminum

In addition to aerospace, transportation and construction, aluminum is used for some unusual reasons too! In the health industry, aluminum is commonly used as food additives, astringents, antacids, and even aspirin. The sporting goods industry uses aluminum to manufacture baseball bats, golf clubs, tents, and more. Aluminum is also used in gum and candy wrappers, soda cans and cooking foil.

At Framing Tech, we sell aluminum framing systems and extrusion profiles. We use aluminum because it’s light and long-lasting. It also offers flexibility and cost savings in engineering, fabrication and assembly. Aluminum is also ideal for machine guarding, ergonomic workstations and worktables.

Chris Hill is the President and CEO of Framing Technology, Inc. Connect with him on and Twitter.

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T-Slot Assembly Tips and Tricks

T-slotted aluminum profiles are modular by nature. There are many types of systems available that all utilize a basic t-slot geometry to allow near infinite mounting positions of components, etc. We are always concerned not only by the engineering characteristics of a structural frame project but also by the aesthetic value it brings to our clients project. Many times, the profiles surround & define the equipment inside, so we are always looking for the cleanest presentation possible. This is why we feel the internal connection vs. the external clad-plate (boiler plate = last century) mentality is superior. The plate method also does not insure that the two joining profiles are pulled together & a gap is possible leaving the resultant assembly out-of-square. High Aesthetic: (quick-connectors face inside of assembly) Old-School: clad-plate

By nature the cross-sectional shape of the aluminum extrusions make them very strong. So why not use this strength when connecting them together? Using our quick-connector (eg. QC10V) series requires a drilled or milled pocket at each end of the profile (typically a horizontal member) & will allow placement anywhere along a perpendicular t-slot. The tightening of the QC (placed in the center bore) draws the two profiles together forming an extremely strong, vibration-proof connection. This connection is also contained within the extrusion & the [tightening] set-screw can be oriented to face internally so as not to obstruct the external t-slots which can later be covered or have a panel installed. If this rail needs to be re-positioned, it’s a simple matter to loosen & place wherever is more beneficial. Here’s how it works: Another hardware advantage with our system is a wide array of accessory hardware used to fasten components to our t-slots. The most common of these would be the t-nut. These are a post-assembly or drop-in design allowing insertion anywhere along the profile. They are very simple & fast to use, having an elliptical shoulder that locks into the t-slot & allows the multiple threads to be used with standard (10-32-5/16-18) or metric (M4-M8) fasteners. A tip when using the TN series t-nuts to bolt panels onto an extruded frame would be to pre-load the panel with the appropriate screw size & start the t-nut on 1-2 threads. Then place the panel on the frame-work ensuring all the t-nuts are in the slots & tighten. If there is a requirement for a frequently removable panel in a vertical orientation, it might be helpful to use a t-slot nut that will maintain its position in a vertical orientation. This is achieved by using one of our drop-in (DTNB), or roll-in (RN10L) t-slot nuts with either a ball-spring or leaf-spring that will allow leaving the nut in position & leave it in the slot for speed of panel re-assembly. Drop-in with ball-spring: Roll-in with leaf-spring:

Chris Hill is the President and CEO of Framing Technology, Inc. Connect with him on and Twitter.

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Time is of the Essence!

timeToday’s automation equipment manufacturers face ever tightening schedule demands. Engineering departments are running leaner than ever with reduced head-count and more responsibilities. A one week advantage in lead time may be the difference in being awarded a project. Pricing is obviously another determining factor in small or large projects. Once a project is underway it’s critical to have a partnership with a vendor who can exceed expectations in design expertise, material recommendation and fulfillment at the lowest possible cost.

T-slotted aluminum profiles are a globally accepted solution for automation equipment and provide a lowering of design and development times using a “standardized” product approach. In dealings with Framing Tech, you are working directly with the manufacturer. No waiting for a call-back after leaving a voicemail that might be returned from a firm or distributor representative. Most applications typically use the same sizes of extrusions and accessory hardware, so a comfort level is quickly achieved in design as well as build. Using our Solidworks 3d design software we can assist in the refinement of your design or provide a clean sheet layout, complete with b.o.m. for any type of structure.

A common challenge for engineers is to receive a project proposal for an extruded aluminum frame assembly in a timely fashion without necessarily providing allot of specific details. Tell us you need a ballpark estimate and we can usually provide that within hours, not days. Our internal mandate is to provide a detailed quotation in 24 hours or less and we do it! All Framing Tech employees are running high speed computers utilizing multiple monitors and have their email and cell phones on virtually 24/7.

Effective communications is key to success. Our sole focus is working with and providing solutions using our modular aluminum profiles. Knowing what our customers face as challenges drives us to respond quickly because we know a project delivery date or future potential work “hangs in the balance.” Any advantage we can offer our customers will only make them more profitable.

If you are in the market for aluminum profiles, contact us today!

Chris Hill is the President and CEO of Framing Technology, Inc. Connect with him on and Twitter.

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Safety Tips for Operating Industrial Equipment

Occupational_Safety_Equipment

 

Each year, there are number of accidents that result from using industrial equipment. Many of these accidents have serious or fatal outcomes and could have been avoided. When it comes to operating industrial equipment, safety is everything. Here are some tips to operating and maintaining industrial equipment properly:

Use the right tools

Many accidents happen because people do not use the right tools for the work at hand. Before you operate any machinery, you should always check that the proper guards and protective devices are intact. If you think any machinery is not safe to use, than do not use it! One way to reduce the number of industrial accidents is by planning ahead and ensuring that the suitable equipment or machinery is available for the task.

Maintain machinery

In order to make sure industrial equipment does not falter or cause injury, it’s important to keep machinery in good condition. As the employer, it’s your responsibility to ensure the safety of your employees. If a machine is not operating properly, the equipment should be shut down immediately. However, maintenance of industrial equipment should only be conducted by those who are competent to do the work.

Wear protective gear

The purpose of wearing protective gear is to keep your body safe from harm. There are different kinds of clothing designed to provide protection for different industrial needs. For example, chemical suits are designed to protect your body from exposure to harmful chemicals. Without these suits, it would be near impossible to contain dangerous chemical spills. Workers should always wear the proper protective gear, be that hardhats, safety glasses or hearing protectors.

Train employees properly

Employees should have the knowledge they need to use industrial equipment properly. Lack of knowledge and skills required to use equipment properly can lead to unnecessary accidents, even injuries. Training employees will help to decrease the number of accidents on the job. Think of it this way: the greater the danger, the better the training. For more complicated and high-risk tasks, such as driving fork-lift trucks and operating cranes, training should be provided by a specialist.

In the end, employers have control over the industrial equipment and hiring those to operate equipment. It’s the employers responsibility to provide the proper training as well as the right tools and protective gear to operate industrial equipment safely.

Chris Hill is the President and CEO of Framing Technology, Inc. Connect with him on and Twitter.

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Benefits of Using Aluminum vs. Steel

Construction MachineryAluminum and steel are both versatile metals that have many uses in a variety of different industries. Both metals come with their advantages and disadvantages. And many advancements have been made over the years in the production of steel and aluminum. Both metals can be melted, casted and machined into different shapes. Both can produce electricity and are recyclable. So, which metal is better? Well, that would depend on what you’re using it for.

Steel

Made of iron and other elements, steel has the advantage over aluminum when it comes to formability. Simply put, steel has more forming range than aluminum does. Steel is also much harder than aluminum, which offers increased design flexibility. Most important, steel is 100 percent recyclable, so it’s good for the environment. In fact, there is more steel recycled each year than paper, glass, aluminum, and plastic combined.

Aluminum

One-third the density of steel, aluminum is much lighter in weight. For this reason, aluminum is easier and more efficient to machine than steel. Aluminum is also ductile with a low melting point and density, which also makes it easier to machine. Moreover, aluminum is resilient in that it combines strength with flexibility and can flex under loads or spring back easily from the shock of impact. Aluminum also retains a high scrap value, which means it’s also recyclable.

Uses of Both Metals

There are many uses for both metals. For instance, steel and aluminum are used in the marine industry as they are utilized in hulls, decks and bulkheads. Plus, both metals are used in the automotive industry, the mold-making industry and the machining industry. The metals can also be used to make kitchen utensils, golf clubs, indoor and outdoor furniture, refrigerators, and toasters. From buildings to submarines and airplanes, some of the world’s most astonishing objects are made from steel and aluminum.

While both metals have excellent features, we use aluminum at Framing Tech because it’s light, strong and recyclable. No other metal can be used in so many ways across such a variety of industries, such as maritime, automotive, mold-making, and machinery. For those reasons, Framing Tech manufactures, fabricates and sells structural aluminum extrusions and framing in all shapes and sizes.

Chris Hill is the President and CEO of Framing Technology, Inc. Connect with him on and Twitter.

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