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Companies That Moved North of the Border Happy with Their Decision

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Prestige Metal Products’ move to Bristol, Wisconsin last year – after 40 years in Antioch, Illinois – felt like home for owner and president John Annessi. Not only did he grow up in Kenosha County, but he also commuted to Antioch from Whitewater, Wisconsin for the past 20 years (he’s since moved to Salem).

With a pressing need for a bigger space, the sheet metal fabricator had put out feelers in both Wisconsin and Illinois. The best opportunity happened to be in Bristol, at an 85,000-square-foot facility four times larger than the one in Antioch.

Not only northern Illinois companies are drawn to southeastern Wisconsin. Seattle-based Amazon.com Inc. opened its Kenosha fulfillment center in 2015. Last summer, Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology Group announced plans to open a massive factory in Mount Pleasant, its first in the U.S.

Even so, many companies in Lake County, Illinois, are moving into Wisconsin, enticed by lower tax rates, tons of open land and the option to have a brand new, state-of-the-art facility (as opposed to upgrading an aging one). Lighting manufacturer Kenall Manufacturing Co. relocated from Gurnee, Illinois, to Kenosha in 2014, building a 354,000-square-foot, temperature-controlled factory.

“The plant is air-conditioned, compared to our former location, where the employees were working in 95-degree-plus temperatures in mid-summer,” said Randy Hernandez, executive vice president of operations.

Kenall considered more than 50 locations in Illinois and surrounding states, boiling it down to two in Illinois and two in Wisconsin.

“Wisconsin was selected as our place for business because of its pro-business local- and state-level environments,” Hernandez said. “Wisconsin educational institutions proactively approached us with labor training, technical and management education programs. They created a huge, mutual win-win for our employees and the company.”

He also pointed to a better tax rate for manufacturers in Wisconsin than in Illinois. A trio of economic development agencies (Kenosha Area Business Alliance, Milwaukee 7 and Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.), he said, were extremely responsive, championing Kenall’s eventual relocation.

“Local governments, at both the city and county levels, worked closely with economic development entities, providing fast tracks to construction services,” Hernandez said. “They worked with us to ensure our needed amenities and business service providers from local municipalities had the capacity to satisfy operations.”

L&M Corrugated Container Corp. had a similar experience with Wisconsin’s government when inquiring about a move. Outgrowing its space, the company desperately needed to upgrade.

“We reached out to both Wisconsin and Illinois, and Wisconsin contacted us very quickly,” said president Steven Lopes, whose grandfather Dick Lopes started the business in Zion, Illinois, in 1979. “I don’t even think Illinois contacted us until we had a purchase agreement on the building.”

L&M received a call from Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch’s office within a week.

“It was kind of a no-brainer (to move into Wisconsin) after that,” Lopes said.

The new plant in Pleasant Prairie (another one is in Platteville) has a new dock, streamlined processes and a new batch of clients.

Growing pains have forced many companies into Wisconsin, including Prestige Metal Products.

“We knew we had to expand,” Annessi said. “We had a lot of longtime and younger employees who wanted to expand and move along with our journey.”

Annessi himself climbed the ranks, starting as a janitor and moving into the role of plant manager. Four years ago, he bought out the owners.

Because several employees already lived in Wisconsin, the move didn’t ruffle any feathers. But the new location does aim to bring in more Wisconsin business while still retaining Illinois clients.

“Being this close to (I-94), transportation is a breeze,” Annessi said.

Whenever a company moves to a new city, there’s a possibility employees won’t opt to move, too. Hiring and training new workers can be expensive.

“We did not lose a single employee in the move,” Lopes said.

In fact, L&M added between 20 and 30 percent more employees.

Read more: Companies that moved north of the border happy with their decision




Global Sheet Metal Fabrication Services Market 2022 Key Manufacturers, Suppliers, Traders, Elite Designs: Metcam Inc., Moreng Meta

Prestige SM Director

Qyresearchreports include new market research report Global Sheet Metal Fabrication Services Market Size, Status and Forecast 2022 to its huge collection of research reports.

This report on the Sheet Metal Fabrication Services has been compiled after conducting extensive primary and secondary research through seasoned hands. Primary research has covered a bulk of the efforts taken to prepare the report, including key discussions with several important opinion leaders and industry experts and significant data collected with the help of thorough interviews conducted. Secondary research, on the other hand, has covered studies of the most vital national and global databases, analyst presentations, investor presentations, press releases, annual reports, and company websites. With such in-depth research performed using cutting-edge techniques, interested parties have been anticipated to gain a comprehensive and definite understanding of the market.

Researchers authoring the publication have provided near-accurate estimations of the Sheet Metal Fabrication Services, along with those of key segmentations, for the forecast timeframe under discussion. The revenue generated by each segment, the potential of different markets within the global market, and various macro and micro environment factors have been presented in the publication. In terms of geography, the researchers have studied the adoption rate, awareness, and industry trends taking shape or about to show face in the key regions of the market. Market opportunities prevailing in different segments have also been identified and assessed by the researchers.

Read more: Global Sheet Metal Fabrication Services Market 2022 Key Manufacturers, Suppliers, Traders, Elite Designs: Metcam Inc., Moreng Meta 

Global Laser Cutting Machine Market (2017-2023): Increased Demand For Automation in Industrial Sector

Prestige SM Director

The global laser cutting machine market is expected to have a CAGR of 9% during the forecast period 2016-2023.

Laser cutting process offers many advantages over conventional cutting process such as faster operation as majority of the work is automated, flexible to use, fine and accurate cuts are obtained without any contamination and there is no deformation of the metal edge. Moreover, laser cutting technology requires less energy for metal cutting hence is consumes less power thus more cost effectiveness. The key factor driving the growth of global laser cutting machine market is the increased demand for automation in industrial sector.

Asia Pacific is the largest market for global laser cutting machine market in terms of market revenue share. The key factor contributing to the market growth in Asia Pacific is the increasing gross domestic product (GDP) and development of industrial sector in the developing countries of Asia Pacific such as India, China, and Japan etc. Moreover, the increasing investments in the automotive, industrial machinery, aerospace and defence industries in the Asia Pacific region is contributing significantly to the market growth. However, North America is expected to emerge as the fastest growing market due to the presence of powerful industrial sector. Moreover, the North America region accounted for significant market revenue share of 31% in 2015.

Read more: Global Laser Cutting Machine Market (2017-2023): Increased Demand For Automation in Industrial Sector 

Laser Cutting Machine 2017 Global Market Expected to Grow at CAGR of 8.04% and Forecast to 2021

Prestige SM Director

Laser cutting machines have high-power lasers that can cut a range of materials, from steel to plastics, with high levels of accuracy. The versatility of these machines allows manufacturers to develop complex geometric products. Thus, laser cutting machines offer an efficient and effective way for manufacturing parts and components for a wide range of industries, such as automotive, aerospace and defense, healthcare, electrical and electronics, textiles, and wood working.

The analysts forecast the global laser cutting machine market to grow at a CAGR of 8.04% during the period 2017-2021.

Covered in this report

The report covers the present scenario and the growth prospects of the global laser cutting machine market for 2017-2021. The report presents a detailed picture of the market by way of study, synthesis, and summation of data from multiple sources.

The market is divided into the following segments based on geography:
• Americas

The report, Global Laser Cutting Machine Market 2017-2021, has been prepared based on an in-depth market analysis with inputs from industry experts. The report covers the market landscape and its growth prospects over the coming years. The report also includes a discussion of the key vendors operating in this market.

Read more: Laser Cutting Machine 2017 Global Market Expected to Grow at CAGR of 8.04% and Forecast to 2021

Laser blanking system enables mass production without dies

Prestige SM Director

Remarkable progress has been seen in lightweighting of automotive parts because of expanded use of high-tensile-strength steel and aluminum. However, most of the cost for lightweighted parts is the raw material—especially for press-blanked parts, where a large amount of material is wasted because of scrap produced during the cutting-out process from sheets or coil. Also, for press blanking, a die is required for each part—therefore, die manufacturing, die change, and die storage are inevitable.

Minimizing waste and die-related cost not only leads to part-cost reduction, but also reduced energy and CO2 produced during material production—a challenge for the automotive industry, which uses a large amount of materials. Honda’s solution was to develop a die-less Intelligent Laser Blanking System (ILBS) for mass production.

Aim of ILBS

Press blanking with a die is a process that has been widely used for mass production in the automotive industry. Contrary to its high productivity, the drawback of using a die is its expensive manufacturing cost and the need for long-term storage space. Also, material yield rate of the blanked part is not optimal because of the restrictions of tool edge design caused by minimum curvature.

By applying laser blanking to automotive sheet metal production, no die is required and press hardening could be avoided, leading to higher design freedom, lower cost, and higher formability, which are the advantages to conventional press blanking. However, laser blanking is mostly used in low-volume prototyping because of its overwhelmingly slow process speed compared to press blanking.
Increasing laser blanking process speed is essential to maximize its advantage over press blanking. Honda utilizes ILBS for mass production by developing three key technologies: high-speed laser cutting, a high-acceleration H-gantry system, and a continuous-feed conveying system

Read more: Laser blanking system enables mass production without dies 

Sheet Metal Fabrication Machines Market Production, consumption and Quality overview 2017 to 2022

Prestige SM Director

Global Sheet Metal Fabrication Machines Market Research Report 2017 to 2022 presents an in-depth assessment of the Sheet Metal Fabrication Machines including enabling technologies, key trends, market drivers, challenges, standardization, regulatory landscape, deployment models, operator case studies, opportunities, future roadmap, value chain, ecosystem player profiles and strategies. The report also presents forecasts for Sheet Metal Fabrication Machines investments from 2017 till 2022.

This study answers several questions for stakeholders, primarily which market segments they should focus upon during the next five years to prioritize their efforts and investments. These stakeholders include Sheet Metal Fabrication Machines manufacturers such as Amada, TRUMPF, Dalian Machine Tool Group, DMG Mori, U.S. Industrial Machinery, Allied Machine & Engineering, Fair Friend Group, Doosan Infracore, FANUC, Haas Automation, Hardinge, Sandvik , etc.

Primary sources are mainly industry experts from core and related industries, and suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, service providers, and organizations related to all segments of the industry’s supply chain. The bottom-up approach was used to estimate the global market size of Sheet Metal Fabrication Machines based on end-use industry and region, in terms of value. With the data triangulation procedure and validation of data through primary interviews, the exact values of the overall parent market, and individual market sizes were determined and confirmed in this study.

Read more: Sheet Metal Fabrication Machines Market Production, consumption and Quality overview 2017 to 2022

US Laser Cutting Machine Market 2017-2021: Research Report with detailed analysis

Prestige SM Director

Laser Cutting Machine Market report provides an in-depth analysis with current and future trends to clarify the forthcoming investment in the market. US Laser Cutting Machine market report shares information regarding key drivers, challenges and trends with impact analysis. Quantitative analysis of the current market and estimations through 2017–2021 are provided to showcase the financial appetency of the Laser Cutting Machine industry.

Experts forecast US Laser Cutting Machine Market is expected to grow at 5.50% CAGR during the period 2017-2021.

Laser cutting machines have high-power lasers that can vaporize a range of materials from steel to plastics with high levels of precision. The versatility of these machines enables manufacturers to cut various types of materials to develop products and components that have complex geometry. Therefore, laser cutting machines provide an efficient and effective process in the industrial manufacturing sector

Laser Cutting Machine Market Report Covered:

  • Opportunity of the Laser Cutting Machine market
  • Market research methodology
  • Market landscape
  • Market segmentation by type
  • Geographical segmentation
  • Market Challenges
  • Market Trends
  • Laser Cutting Machine Market Vendors landscape
  • List of Exhibits

Read more: US Laser Cutting Machine Market 2017-2021: Research Report with detailed analysis

Laser Welding for Sheetmetal Fabricators

Prestige SM Director

Although laser welding is a well-established manufacturing solution, many sheetmetal fabricators have been hesitant to implement the process at their shop.

For many years they have missed out on the advantages laser welding has to offer and focused on improving other bottlenecks, for example, in laser cutting or bending. With these solutions in place and laser welding emerging as a more viable solution, many fabricators are beginning to recognize the laser welding process as the next logical step in enhancing their production capabilities.

Manufacturers benefit from any process that reduces cost per part—and laser welding has many advantages in this regard. Due to the low heat input of this process, distortion and discoloration can be avoided to completely eliminate the need for refinishing. As these postprocesses are extremely time consuming and expensive, the costs per part are significantly reduced.

Furthermore, laser welding speeds are considerably higher than conventional processes, which often greatly reduces processing times. This leads to free capacity on the machine, allowing the manufacturer to serve more customers.

Laser welding is not only about reducing costs, but also increasing functionality. A smooth surface with an extremely narrow welding geometry is beneficial for kitchen, furniture and other industries where visible weld seams are common. Due to the low heat input, manufacturers can avoid discoloration and achieve highly aesthetic parts directly from the machine. One can also achieve very strong seams for parts that require strength. The characteristic seam geometry of laser welding leads to full penetration of the parts while reducing the influence on the grain structure. Tensile strength tests show conventionally welded seams break in the welding seam, while laser welded parts break in the base material.

After the welding program is implemented and the parameters are set, a laser welding robot achieves consistent quality every time. It is also a very stable process and can generate watertight seams to eliminate the need for leak tests. Laser welding also offers unique seam geometries enabling the part designer to reduce weight, material and costs, such as replacing spot welds with overlap joints that are not only stronger, but also invisible from the other side.

Despite all the benefits of laser welding, including cost reduction in the long term, manufacturers are often discouraged by the initial investment costs. The LaserNetwork can drastically reduce this cost while increasing the laser source utilization by using a single laser for up to four machines. This lowers the entry barrier of implementing laser welding into production. Once the company has enough orders and high machine utilization, a second laser source can be retrofitted.

Read more: Laser Welding for Sheetmetal Fabricators 

The cutting edge of laser cladding technology

Prestige SM Director

Since its establishment in 1993 (initially as HVOF Australia Pty Ltd), LaserBond has concentrated on research, development, and implementation of advanced surface-engineering techniques to dramatically reduce the wear rates, maintenance, and operating costs of production-vital components. It manufactures, repairs, reclaims, and enhances the performance of high-wear-critical metal components in a range of capital-intensive industries—particularly mining, where equipment constantly operates in a variety of highly abrasive and uncommon wear conditions.

With a staff of 60, the company serves a variety of industries in addition to mining, including metal refining and smelting; power generation; road and rail transport; aerospace and gas turbines; shipping; valves and fluid handling; and oilfield drilling and exploration.

Laser deposition development

A precursor to LaserBond’s recent growth was its development of a patented laser deposition process. This research work, led by founder and executive director Greg Hooper, was directed towards enabling high deposition rates of typically hard-phase metallurgy, with minimal debilitating impact on the substrate and overlay.

“Our method enables the laser deposition of metallic or metal matrix composite (MMC) layers with a full metallurgical bond by utilizing an accurately focused, infinitely controllable, high-power laser beam supported in a multi-axis robot and integrated with a separate multi-axis workpiece platform that enables precise control of heat transfer into base material and the deposited layer,” Hooper explains. “Our integration enables the repair of temperature-sensitive components and materials, such as hardened shafts and gears, with minimal risk of distortion or other undesirable heat effects that undermine the integrity of the component or in-service performance. This method enables the deposition of MMC overlays with significantly smaller hard-phase particles, with minimal heat effects. The concentration of hard phases can be significantly increased and dramatically improved distribution achieved with the new method. Therefore, the mean free path between the WC (tungsten carbide) particles is smaller and wear resistance is considerably improved.”

Read more: The cutting edge of laser cladding technology

Dynamic Beam Shaping Improves Laser Cutting of Thick Steel Plates

Prestige SM Director

Even though thick plate cutting has a subsidiary market share in laser material processing, it is still a necessary feature for state-of-the-art machines. In recent years, research has concentrated on various quality issues, especially dross attachment and surface appearance, that compromise productivity. This has resulted in notable improvements.

About $1.1 billion was allotted to research and development of macro laser metal cutting in 20161. Roughly 20 percent of this research addressed sheet thicknesses above 4 mm. Ongoing market monitoring points to a persistent industrial interest in this sector, because thick plate performance is a benchmark of laser cutting machines. CO2 laser cutting remains the established method for industry; every laser cut is compared with CO2

However, in recent years the market share of solid-state laser cutting devices has increased by a compounded annual growth rate of more than 10 percent2. Solid-state lasers offer various advantages, such as higher efficiency, easier handling and faster feed rate for thin sheets. However, in the case of thick plates, they have not achieved acceptable cut quality, nor even a higher feed rate in comparison to CO2 cutting.

A basic approach to achieve optimal results for solid-state laser cutting is to adjust the cut kerf dimensions for each application. (Of course, these must take into account influencing factors such as energy deposition and heat conduction.) In the case of thick plates, an appropriate kerf width is required to maintain melt ejection.

Static beam shaping is one common method for adjusting cut kerf dimensions, but the result is not always sufficient. With this technique, various optical elements can be utilized to modify the laser beam for spot size, beam geometry, amount of foci, polarization state and other factors. The result is an optical setup that suits a specific cutting task. This is advantageous for specialized tasks such as serial production. But static beam shaping cannot adequately accomplish the frequently varying operations that constitute the daily business of industry.

In addition, with solid-state laser cutting of thick plates, mechanical post-treatment typically is needed to remove dross. Thus, an additional production step is necessary that requires manpower and machinery. Static beam shaping can overcome this challenge by using laser sources with higher output power. Although this increases productivity, it also increases investment and running charges.

Innovative laser cutting

Fraunhofer IWS is pursuing dynamic beam shaping (DBS) as a solution to the challenge of laser beam cutting of thick metal plates. It addresses high productivity, improved quality and efficiency in combination with standard equipment. The technology is considered an add-on to the conventional process.

Read more: Dynamic Beam Shaping Improves Laser Cutting of Thick Steel Plates 

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