Cokata, Minn. — Forward Technology, which makes custom plastic welding equipment and testing systems, announced a $1.2 million investment to expand its machining operations, including building a new facility to house its big investment: a big new computer numerically controlled milling machine.
The company will be able to consolidate its CNC operations and to perform all of its machining in-house, according to Forward Technology President Brian Kivisto. He also is executive vice president of the Crest Group, an international ultrasonic technology group based in Trenton, N.J.
Forward Technology's 6,600-square-foot CNC machining building, which is attached to its headquarters factory in Cokato, will house the company's current stable of eight machining centers as well as the new one: an AmeraSeiki Model VB2432A, four-axis vertical machining center.
The investment focused on machining, happened earlier this year, Kivisto said.
“This is another initiative which solidifies our further commitment to key national and multinational [original equipment manufacturers],” Kivisto said. “The new machining center enables us to be 100-percent self-sufficient for the production of large metal castings and welded machine frames, and other related component systems for our complete portfolio of welding equipment.”
Before, the company was forced to outsource machining of larger castings and frames, because it had limited size on its own machining centers. So company officials say the new four-axis CNC will enable Forward Technologies to more quickly respond to market needs, reduce lead times and improve quality control.
The AmeraSeiki vertical machining center has a capacity measuring 125 inches by 103 inches by 43 inches. It also features a right-angle head that permits the use of a fourth axis.
Kivisto said in some cases, lead times will be shortened by two to four weeks.
Forward Technology makes equipment for hot plate welding, vibration welding, infrared welding, spin welding and ultrasonic welding. On the testing side, the company makes systems for bust testing and custom leak testing. The company can make complete automation systems, including robotics, to meet specific requirements.
Company officials said a growing U.S. economy has led to increased demand for welding equipment for the plastics industry, covering a range of markets. Forward Technology has seen especially strong growth in infrared welding equipment for the automotive and appliance markets, to meet demands of Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers.