Ultratech Forms Productive Partnership with Press Supplier
CHICAGO and FOND du Lac, Wis.—Ultratech Tool & Design Inc. began as a tool shop in 1990, serving the small engine manufacturing sector. Over the course of the past seven to ten years, the Fond du Lac, Wis.-based company has been supplying stampings from its 32-ton to 600-ton presses, with products ranging from simple washers to complex automotive and aerospace components. Major manufacturers in industries such as automotive, consumer goods, electrical products and aerospace populate the ranks of Ultratech’s North American customer base.
“We took the tooling expertise we had from the start and built the business around it,” said Bill Melang, president of Ultratech Tool &Design. “This approach gave us the ability to see our customers’ challenges from the inside and help them find better solutions for their own production.”
At Ultratech, all jobs begin with the tool design. Ultratech uses Solidworks and Logopress software to produce its designs, then interacts with its customers in that fluid exchange of ideas, engineering suggestions, and production fine tuning that creates the finished product. That product is made entirely in-house at Ultratech on the latest CNC machines and CMM test equipment.
“We try our best to stay ahead of the competition with our machine tools and design protocols, using the best technology available in the market,” Melang comments. Sensor selection on the dies, for example, is performed in the shop’s sensor lab, where simulation of the die-in-press scenario translates to a tool that is less likely to crash. Ultratech also produces dies with complex in-die tapping and nut/stud insertion capabilities, as well as lamination dies.
Out on the production floor, another key reason for the shop’s success stands at the center of the operation. Back in 2002, according to Melang, the company formed a working relationship with The Heim Group (Chicago, Illinois) when it bought its first Heim press. Today, there is an 80-ton Heim OBS with 5000 lb. feed line, plus a 500-ton Heim Maxi-Stamper with 10,000 lb. feed, and a 600-ton Heim Maxi-Stamper with 20,000 lb. feed. Complementing this equipment is a full resistance welding, heat treating, and assembly cell operation. Ultratech also supplies its customers a range of finishing and part coating options to facilitate ready-to-assemble requirements.
“Back in 2002, we bought our first Heim press,” Melang remembered. “It was an older machine and Heim helped us with a rebuild. Since that time, we’ve developed a value-adding relationship with Heim, as they’ve provided us considerable assistance with press utilization and maintenance advice, while I think we’ve also been helpful to them with die design ideas.”
Heim President Katie Heim said that Heim’s relationship with Ultratech has benefited both companies over the years. “As our industry knows, the die dictates the press, and we’ve worked closely with Bill and his team, as this particular customer’s knowledge of die design and performance characteristics in the press has created a real synergy with our engineers, who bring decades of press design and die handling mechanics to the task,” she remarked. “The fact that Ultratech also has some of the nicest people in the industry, starting with Bill, is the icing on the cake, so to speak.”
The Heim Group, an American-made press builder, Katie notes, is quite often asked for a turnkey system of press, die, and coil handling equipment, including complex die and part handling mechanisms, in a single package. “The knowledge we’ve shared with and acquired from Ultratech has made us both stronger players in the market today,” she observes. She added that the decline in the workforce numbers and equipment manufacturers based in America has created the need for companies such as Heim to be more pro-active in the turnkey area, as customers today seek this assistance on a much more frequent basis than previously.
Katie Heim is the third generation owner of the business, which has built presses in Chicago for nearly 70 years and today boasts over 55,000 machines in the global stamping market. Heim produces presses to 1000 tons and also supplies coil handling, part transfer mechanisms, and complete die systems in turnkey packages for customers worldwide.
Ultratech (www.ultratechtooldesign.com) is an ISO 9001:2008 certified supplier and is currently advancing to the TS automotive specification to enhance the company’s involvement as a supplier to that industry. The shop employs 25 people, and has recently completed a plant expansion of 30,000 square feet, according to company representatives.
Melang lauded the assistance he’s received from Jack Best and Tony Mase at Heim. “There isn’t a single question we’ve thrown their way that went unanswered. They do what they say they’ll do and that gives us great confidence in their abilities to handle our very fast-paced variety of needs for presses and support engineering.”
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