= structural aluminum extrusions can replace welded steel in building structures
"TSLOTS modular structural aluminum extrusions are designed to make assembly of modular aluminum applications fast and easy. The t-slotted extruded aluminum design enables the user to quickly create workstations, machine enclosures, robot enclosures, clean rooms, safety guarding or many other types of automation or framing applications from our stock components. The biggest advantage of using TSLOTS modular structural aluminum extrusion framing system is that it is manufactured by an aluminum extruder. This means your aluminum extrusions and components are made to a consistent, high quality.
With numerous quick bolt together t-slotted connectors available for virtually any load or application, using welded steel is fast becoming a thing of the past for the modern lean factory. Any structure can be assembled without the use of special tools or skills and with minimal time and effort." (http://www.tslots.com/)
"T-slot framing seems to have emerged sometime in the late 1970s as a successor to things like 'angle iron', rod & clamp (the same building system used for the RepRap's structure but which, for some weird reason, I can find no one in the engineering world who can identify the origin of), Unistrut, 'pipe fitting' systems like KeeKlamp, and Box Beam (which originated as Ken Isaacs' Matrix system) used in the laboratory setting and offered a solution to the problem of high costs for custom automation systems. It allowed entirely new and unique laboratory gear and factory automation systems to be quickly designed and built from families of modular components and created an automation consulting industry very much akin to the IT/MIS consulting industry, radically reducing the costs of implementing automation compared to what it was mid-century and helping to usher-in the Job Shop revolution. Perhaps because of its quick adoption by NASA and key university labs, T-slot quickly became ubiquitous in the engineering world. Though little known outside of it, its currently the basis of more lab, industrial, and robotics hardware than any other building system. Most people may have never heard of it, but most consumer goods they own have probably passed through machinery made with it. Once you know what it is, you will suddenly start spotting it everywhere; machine tools, hobby tools, lab hardware, robot prototypes, workshop benches and shelving, office furniture and partitions, clean room structures, art installations, etc. It's one of those things that, like municipal infrastructure hardware, we sort of filter out of our perception until someone points them out and we suddenly realize their ubiquity. This is why I've long wondered why no one else ever tried to write a book on it." (email, August 2008)