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Friday | 20 April, 2012 | 2:11 pm

Steel staging

By Julie Sammarco

Welded and bolted structures form the backdrop to star-studded events

April 2012 - Chances are you've seen the handiwork of Applied Electronics, Newport News, Va. The company has contributed to some of the most glitzy events in the entertainment industry, including the Super Bowl, Daytona 500, U.S. Open tennis tournament, Indianapolis 500 and various extreme sports events.

"You wouldn’t really pay attention to our products," says Scott Humphrey, owner of Applied Electronics and Staging Dimensions, New Castle, Del. "You might be able to recognize it, but just about all of what we do is covered by design materials."

The company specializes in building the support for the entertainment industry—namely aluminum trusses for staging.

Welders not only craft the designs for the national entertainment industry but also churches, amusement parks such as Busch Gardens, Colonial Williamsburg and the Ferguson Center for the Performing Arts.

For this year's Super Bowl, Applied Electronics built most of the stage for the DirecTV Celebrity Beach Bowl, a flag football game and concert that was a promotional event for the Super Bowl in Indianapolis. The Beach Bowl took place the Saturday before the game.

The company built risers, trusses, a stage, broadcast booth, the scoreboard and a dance floor for when the Beach Bowl later turned into a private VIP party that ended with a Katy Perry concert. The aluminum trusses stood 35 feet high inside the temporary dome.

"We transformed a beach flag football game into a VIP dance floor with chandeliers, all in a very short time," said Mike Rampmeyer, COO for Applied Electronics.

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Numbers and materials
For the Beach Bowl, trusses were welded and bolted together. “We designed and manufactured approximately 7,500 feet of custom aluminum trusses that were wrapped with LED screens,” says Humphrey. “We configured our products and put it together in somewhat of a custom fabrication sort of way. We had 23 tractor trailers worth of equipment going there. We used in the neighborhood of 5,000 to 8,000 feet of aluminum trusses.” The company built more than 300 aluminum trusses for the Beach Bowl plus 1,000 panels for a temporary dance floor.

In total, the company built about 85 percent of the structures at the DirecTV Celebrity Beach Bowl.

Another project, set to be finished in June 2012, includes a display for an event sponsored by Hot Wheels. Applied Electronics partnered with Staging Dimensions, will build a structure resembling a life-sized Hot Wheels loop.

HSLA steels, hot-rolled tempered and oiled materials will be used to manufacture the trusses, says Mike Chouinard, design and manufacturing manager for Staging Dimensions.

To make the display for this project, which the company manufactured in 2011 for the same event, “we lay out a conceptual model, develop a structural model and then weld the pieces into large structural shapes,” says Chouinard. “We use laser cutting, bending, chip-making processes, welding; then ultimately it will get blasted and painted before it leaves the facility. When the system is assembled, it will create double helixes that are 60 feet in diameter.”

In total, about 127,000 pounds of steel will be used. It will take 4 1/2 weeks to manufacture. MM

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