Show me the edge
Greg Claycomb knew that building a successful business would take more than just supplying high quality parts.
“We’re not going to tell you what we can do, we’re going to show you, and it will blow you away,” says Greg Claycomb, owner and president of Lasercraft, a job shop in Ohio. He sits at a table that demonstrates Lasercraft’s creativity and capabilities in tube, multi-axis and flat sheet laser cutting and marking machinery. And he is smiling. Yesterday, a customer asked Lasercraft to quote a job. Lasercraft returned the quote on that same day with three samples – physical representations of the production part. Today, the job went to Lasercraft, even before some of its competitors had finished quoting the work.
Employing new technology effectively and developing relationships necessary to not only meet – but exceed – customer expectations is the company’s laser-driven focus. “We’ll go above and beyond just making parts to work with customers in finding the best manufacturing solution.
We help open engineers’ eyes to what can be done with lasers
This differentiates us from many competitors.” Claycomb notes that Lasercraft’s comprehensive laser resources and expertise provide a variety of solution options. “We strive to create raving fans.”
To deliver the high quality, versatility and consistency that keep its customers delighted, Lasercraft relies on TRUMPF technology. “We bought our first TRUMPF laser ten years ago and became believers after we saw the edge quality and repeatability we could achieve,” Claycomb says enthusiastically.
When customers touring Lasercraft ask Claycomb why all of his subsequent machine tool purchases have been from TRUMPF, Claycomb points proudly to his first TRUMPF laser machine – still consistently producing high quality parts. He also praises TRUMPF personnel “who make sure we have all the things we need to provide our customers with what they need and are dedicated to advancing laser technology.”
An investment in understanding
Lasercraft invests a significant amount of time in teaching customers about the capabilities of lasers. It’s all part of Lasercraft’s Design Innovation Partnership. Lasercraft sales representatives, themselves well-trained in laser operation and capabilities, work hard to form close relationships with the engineering departments of customers.
The partnership has proven profitable for both Lasercraft and its customers. An engineer at one customer facility casually mentioned to a Lasercraft sales representative a problem with a welded part made by another shop. Lasercraft proactively investigated improvement options and redesigned the part to eliminate the problem and improve quality while saving approximately 20 percent in production costs.
Now, Lasercraft handles the work of that customer, which sends new engineers to Lasercraft for training. “We help open engineers’ eyes to what can be done with lasers.” Claycomb adds that he frequently welcomes engineers from other customers too. “Once they fully understand our capabilities, we become their ‘go-to’ company when they need to solve a problem.”
Laser advances support growing volumes
Over the last 25 years, Claycomb has witnessed an evolution in laser power, capability and technology. He emphasizes that it‘s not just the capability of the machine that has improved. The short job-to-job transition time, ease of use and maintenance, and alignment of the laser beam keeping the optical path consistent also add value. Additionally, Claycomb has seen lasers grow more efficient in handling larger volumes.
Every part must be a good part
Meanwhile, the company’s high-volume jobs have multiplied. Twenty years ago, Lasercraft produced 1,200 to 1,500 precision-cut blades each month for one customer. Last month, Lasercraft laser cut 180,000 blades for that samecustomer and plans to deliver 1.8 million laser cut blades by the end of the year. “Every part must be a good part,” says Claycomb. “Consistently perfect cuts are important when you‘re making ten pieces, significantly important when you‘re making one million, and critically important for an iconic brand manufacturer.”
Lasers for lifestyle brands
Clients manufacturing “lifestyle brands” – legendary products with their own associated lifestyle and culture – demand precision and repeatability. “Their customers are passionate and have an emotional bond with the product,” explains Claycomb. “They expect power, performance and consistency and the companies expect that from their suppliers. Lifestyle brands require machinery that ensures repeatability.”
Lasers, Claycomb insists, not only meet the stringent requirements of lifestyle brands, but can help elevate the product’s quality. One lifestyle brand customer needed parts that had traditionally been stamped. Laser cutting eliminated a significant quality problem and is now the only approved method for manufacturing the parts.
Both of Lasercraft’s facilities – one located outside of Cleveland and another four hours away just outside of Cincinnati – continually upgrade their laser technology. The ability to produce parts on identical machines in two geographically-separated locations means that Claycomb can confidently produce quality parts consistently. Geographically-separated dual sourcing also allays any customer concerns about losing critical components.
Worth the cost
Lasercraft cuts many parts that must be accurate and aesthetically excellent. Lasercraft depends on laser processing not to damage or deform the part in any way. “We can’t just pull another customer-supplied part off the shelf,” Claycomb says. “Sometimes the part has gone through multiple operations and we’re making a five dollar cut on a fifty dollar part.”
Claycomb’s commitment to adding new technology continues as the company looks to the future. The company recently added a TruLaser Cell 3010 and a TruLaser 1030 – its first machine for a dedicated application. “It is a very cost-effective, fully capable addition to the machines that we have in our facility,” says Claycomb. “One of the things we’ve found is that TRUMPF machinery might not be the cheapest, but it‘s the best value because it is worth what you pay for it.”
Contact us: MastersofSheetMetal@trumpf.com
This article was first published in Summer 2013.