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Bending/Folding

Metal bending muscle

By Nick Wright

In upgrading a press brake, American Alloy makes a heavy-tonnage move in the right direction

May 2015 - It occurs in many job shops and with sheet metal manufacturers around the country: The operators don’t know exactly what specific part they are fabricating. Rather, operators get a blueprint or design file from the customer and fabricate the part to whatever the schematics call for. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It could be something as banal as an electrical panel or as riveting as a rocket—if the customer tells you what it is, anyhow.

Lots of the work coming through the doors of American Alloy, Spokane, Washington, isn’t usually identified as one thing or another by the customer, but that doesn’t affect the attention to quality that American Alloy gives to each job. American Alloy is a young company—it celebrates eight years in business this August—that operates from an 80,000 sq. ft. space in the Spokane Valley Business & Industrial Park on the city’s east side. It’s a full-service metal fabricator that has like neighbors: There are at least a half-dozen metal-related companies nearby.

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With a staff of about 70, American Alloy brings expertise to the gamut of metalworking, including forming, machining, painting and delivery. A big part of American Alloy’s workflow involves bending metal with its four press brakes, one of which was installed about a year ago. That machine, an ADS-37220 manufactured by JMT USA, Salt Lake City, arrived in 2014 after it was purchased in 2013. It’s a 242-ton, five-axis CNC press brake that has turned out to be a necessary upgrade for the growing fabricator.

“The repeatability and accuracy on the machine are great,” says Garret Guinn, owner of American Alloy. He says the ADS is used 16 to 18 hours each day.

Material mix

The Spokane region has a thriving manufacturing community, particularly in aerospace and structural metal fabrication. American Alloy doesn’t cater to any one industry; rather it tackles whatever fabricating order comes in. That includes projects from industries such as mining, agriculture and heavy construction. It’s a veteran-owned business, which sometimes helps it earn government funded contracts. 

In 2010, CNN highlighted the company as an example of stimulus money at work, as it hired a welder to build stands for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Since, American Alloy has nearly doubled in size and employees. Guinn declined to discuss the company’s revenues.

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Typically, material will get processed on one of its four sheet lasers before getting deburred, sorted and processed for other features like PEM inserts or countersunk hole tapping. Then, it’ll go to the press brake.

During a typical day, the ADS will bend 16 gauge cold-rolled and up to 1⁄2-in.-thick pickled and oiled steel. On any given day, says Guinn, the operators could be bending that same range of stainless in the morning, then aluminum by the afternoon. “We don’t do any huge, long runs of anything, so we set up quickly, bend the part and move on to the next job. In that way, the brake lends itself well going from part to part.”

Aside from the parts American Alloy fabricates that OEMs don’t identify beyond the blueprints, the company makes all sorts of metal panels, machine enclosures and stands—the types of sheet metal parts that are 1⁄4 in. hot-rolled steel as large as 110 in. by 60 in. Parts that big fit into the ADS brake, which can hold up to 12 ft. long parts, and bends them to tight tolerances. However, American Alloy often has different press brake tooling set up FFJ-0515-bending-image3at the same time so operators can run multiple jobs simultaneously.

American Alloy’s other brakes, according to the company website, are supplied from Amada and less than 150 tons in capacity, making the JMT brake the metal-bending muscle of forming operations. The JMT brake replaced an older, 220-ton machine. Working with Kirkland, Washington-based distributor Sanson Machinery Group, which urged American Alloy to consider a JMT brake, the company’s production manager traveled to JMT’s headquarters in Salt Lake City to get an up-close demonstration of what the ADS brake could do.

“We went out there, saw it and loved it,” he says. In addition to its repeatability and length capacity, Guinn and his operators were drawn to the tonnage range and easily available tooling. He says he spoke with several existing customers of JMT to ask them about the brake. “We did our due diligence, talked to some users of the machine and they all had great things to say.”

Mike Hill, sales engineer at Sanson Machinery, says he met with Guinn in 2013 to discuss a new press brake. “Garret wanted a machine that was more reliable, and wanted a control that was user-friendly,” Hill says. “The JMT is extremely reliable and the Delem control is very easy to program.” He has not had one service call from American Alloy after more than a year past installation.

Forming savings

The JMT ADS brake not only shoulders the heavy bending work at American Alloy. It’s proven itself as a more efficient machine than the brake it replaced. Guinn says there was more costly downtime associated with the previous brake, and replacement parts were hard to get.

“In fact, after we had bought our previous brake, that brake’s manufacturer obsoleted that model,” he says, which made it a hassle to get replacement parts or tooling. “The JMT has easily replaceable parts and can be bought off the shelf.”

American Alloy has also been able to use tooling from its existing inventory on the JMT brake. Among the selling points for Guinn to purchase the machine are its large throat depth (16 in.), overall bending length of 12 ft., a stroke of 10.4 in. and CNC crowning, which are standard features.

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JMT takes training with customers seriously, as well. The company sent technicians to train American Alloy on multiple occasions and realized its employees were already savvy machine operators such that JMT had no need to lockdown portions of the brake’s controls. 

According to Guinn, when JMT sells a machine, it only trains operators on sections of the machine’s ability and locks users out of other features with the intent of eliminating accidents or machine damage until they’re properly trained.

Quick tooling changeover is perhaps American Alloy’s favorite feature of the press brake because of the company’s diverse work orders that require different setups. 

“We may be bending 1⁄2 in. material one minute, and 16 gauge another minute,” Guinn says. “Doing those changeovers quickly is nice.”

Making quick changeovers and efficiently bending an array of sheet metal is key for getting those components out the door on time, on budget—whether American Alloy knows what the parts are for or not. FFJ

 

Sources

Banner

Company Profiles

AIR FILTRATION

HYDRAULIC PRESSES

NESTING SOFTWARE

SERVICE CENTERS

Camfil APC - Equipment Beckwood Press Co. Metamation Inc. Admiral Steel
Camfil APC - Replacement Filters Triform

PLASMA TECHNOLOGY

Alliance Steel
Donaldson Company Inc.

LASER TECHNOLOGY

Messer Cutting Systems Inc.

SOFTWARE

BENDING/FOLDING

AMADA AMERICA, INC.

PLATE

Enmark Systems Inc.
MetalForming Inc. Mazak Optonics Corp. Peddinghaus Lantek Systems Inc.
RAS Systems LLC MC Machinery Systems Inc.

PLATE & ANGLE ROLLS

SigmaTEK Systems LLC

BEVELING

Murata Machinery, USA, Inc. Davi Inc. Striker Systems
Steelmax Tools LLC TRUMPF Inc.

PRESS BRAKE TOOLING

STAMPING/PRESSES

COIL PROCESSING

LINEAR POSITION SENSORS

Mate Precision Tooling AIDA-America Corp.
Bradbury Group MTS Sensors Rolleri USA

STEEL

Burghardt + Schmidt Group

MATERIAL HANDLING

PRESS BRAKES

Alliance Steel
Butech Bliss Fehr Warehouse Solutions Inc. AMADA AMERICA, INC.

TUBE & PIPE

Red Bud Industries UFP Industrial Automec Inc. BLM Group
Tishken

MEASUREMENT & QUALITY CONTROL

MC Machinery Systems Inc. Prudential Stainless & Alloys

CONVEYOR SYSTEMS

Advanced Gauging Technologies SafanDarley

WATERJET

Mayfran International

METAL FABRICATION MACHINERY

PUNCHING

Barton International

DEBURRING/FINISHING

Cincinnati Inc. Hougen Manufacturing Flow International Corporation
ATI Industrial Automation LVD Strippit

SAWING

Jet Edge Waterjet Systems
Lissmac Corp. Scotchman Industries Inc. Behringer Saws Inc.

WELDING

Osborn Trilogy Machinery Inc. DoALL Sawing American Weldquip
SuperMax Tools

METAL FORMING

HE&M Saw Strong Hand Tools
Timesavers FAGOR Arrasate USA Inc. Savage Saws T. J. Snow Company

 

MetalForming Inc.

 

 

 

MICROFINISHING TOOLS

 

 

 

Titan Tool Supply Inc.

 

 


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