ISME celebrates 75th anniversary
Image caption: ISME judges a skills competition.
The Institute of Sheet Metal Engineering (ISME) in the UK celebrates its 75th anniversary this year.
ISME's Honorary Secretary, Bill Pinfold, highlighted the landmark anniversary, pointing out that ISME’s origins lay in the immediate aftermath of World War Two.
“ISME started in 1946 as the Sheet and Strip Metal Users Trade Association (SASMUTA) when members were firms rather than individuals. It provided a unifying element in a fragmented industry, quickly became active and was very well received,” he told ISMR. “The immediate success of SASMUTA saw it convert into an Institute and introduce individual membership. Anyone could join who worked in the sheet metal industry at any level without the need for formal qualifications.”
Its council then set up regional branches with committees of volunteers who would arrange their own programmes of activities, lectures, works visits and other events. The organisation flourished because it was based on friendship and a willingness to share expertise with other members. The years up to the mid-60s saw British industry transformed, and ISME expanded to a record size with around 1,200 individual and 300 corporate members.
“Inevitably, the decline of industrial manufacturing during the 70s and 80s was tough for all organisations, although the institute continued its activities throughout those years, and strengthened its focus on promoting both the science and the working of sheet metal,” added Pinfold.
ISME also widened its social agenda by launching an annual dinner dance (known as ‘the Metal Bashers' Ball’) and introduced a craft award which continues to this day as the annual ISME Skills Competition. In 1997, the Institute was a driving force behind the creation of the British Metal Forming Trade Association which later evolved into the CBM. Today, ISME has the same membership structure and ethic.
“We have always been what I call a 'learned body', providing opportunities for members to exchange ideas and information, encouraging the development of skills in the next generation and driving innovation across the sector,” Pinfold explained. “Our journal (Oracle) is still published twice a year, featuring technical articles of interest to those in the sheet metal sector, academics and other observers. At the same time, we recognise that change is just as vital for ourselves as for industry. We have to remain relevant in the digital age, so we recently widened our presence by setting up feeds on LinkedIn and Twitter, which rapidly gained traction and raised ISME's profile among new audiences.”