SMIDGENS EXPANDS- ADDS MAZAK OPTIPLEX LASER FOR THICK PLATE CUTTING
By: Gary Villa
Just when Rita thinks we don’t need any more lasers we pull a fast one on her and in come the trucks and crane with our new Mazak monster laser from Japan… not quite Godzilla but almost as heavy.
We’ve been talking about adding capacity to our metal cutting for a couple years now and the timing seemed right. Every week our customers were asking for thicknesses which our Trumpf laser couldn’t cut- 3/4” and 1” steel parts. After researching the various machines on the market we selected the Mazak Optiplex. This 4000 watt laser has a host of automation features like head and nozzle changing so the operator can cut 20ga steel and then switch to 3/4” thick plate without having any setup work. In our business we cut such a variety of work and rush jobs that it made sense to get a laser that can do it all.
To give the laser a new place in the shop we needed to expand. We found a builder, and with the help of the Amish, they erected our building in a couple of months. We then needed to upgrade our already high capacity electric service and the nice guys at National Grid took care of that… thank God we live close to the Niagara Falls power plant…
The day of the laser arriving was bedlam. We had trucks and contractors everywhere. Electricians, riggers, laser techs from Mazak, crane operators, wide load truck drivers, it was just crazy. On top of everything it had snowed the day before and the trucks carrying the numerous giant containers were having trouble getting through the mountains in Pennsylvania. We managed to get everything into the building in one day. Rita even got to operate the big crane without any fatalities. I was in a daze most of the day worrying about it all and letting it sink in. All our planning went off without a hitch thanks to our rigger, Jimmy. It took 1 week to assemble and level the laser and another 2 weeks to connect the miles of cables carrying electric, water, air and CO2 gas.
We finally got the beast up and running in early February of 2014. It has been doing a great job cutting everything from jet fighter instrument panels to the base plates for I beams for new building construction. It has expanded our ability to serve every customer’s needs, whether that’s a small piece of aluminum on the fly or 50 sheets of 1” thick steel on a 5’ by 10’ bed. We can do it! Smidgens is known for our ability to get things done fast. Our new Mazak is working hard to serve your needs more efficiently and at a better price. Just another day at Smidgens…