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On to Bigger Things—Metalcraft of Mayville Amps Up Machining


By adding five-axis machining to their core competencies, Metalcraft has greater control over their lead times by eliminating operations and setups, as they see a push from OEMs for the full production package.

Metalcraft of Mayville, Wisconsin is known by most as the OEM of SCAG Power Equipment, but at their 230,000 square foot West Bend facility, they also maintain large-scale welding and fabrication operations for other OEM customers like John Deere, Oshkosh Truck, Lockheed Martin, and Caterpillar. When large part contracts became available, adding competitive machining proved crucial over just traditional fabrication services to become a one-stop shop.

“We cut a bunch of different, mostly tougher, steel alloys made to withstand falling objects. Running these parts through the Toyoda’s was actually the easiest and most profitable,” - John Grotelueschen

Metalcraft was working with an old Okuma Mill 1000PH that was not keeping up with customer demand nor machining to required tolerances. The machine was down for eight months—prompting Metalcraft to pay a premium for outsourced work that could have been done in house. A $140,000 quote for repairs to get the operation up and running again sent Metalcraft looking for alternative solutions.

Two Toyoda FH1250SX-5Axis horizontal machining centers fit the bill for Metalcraft.  Despite primarily machining large weldments, the five-axis capability proved critical in halving the number of operations and setups versus the traditional process on 3-axis or 4-axis machining centers.  Metalcraft’s range of high profile clients demanded equipment that could handle a large envelope of work with maximum flexibility. The FH1250SX-5Axis is designed for complex, tight-tolerance, large part machining.  “We cut a bunch of different, mostly tougher, steel alloys made to withstand falling objects. Running these parts through the Toyoda’s was actually the easiest and most profitable,” said John Grotelueschen, who supervises the operation of over 20 large CNC machining centers. The Toyoda’s come equipped with either a 10,000 or 15,000 RPM integral tilting spindle and rapid feed rates of 1,260 ipm (32 m/min) on the X and Y axes and 1,654 ipm (42 m/min) on the Z axis.

“The install of these machines couldn’t have gone any smoother. I have been in the industry for over 30 years and overseen upwards of 20 installs—this was the easiest install I’ve ever been involved with,” said Grotelueschen.

Right off the bat, Metalcraft was running jobs for five different clients with the Toyoda machines. The FH1250SX-5Axis was able to handle the size and scope of work while maintaining target lead times. “For CAT, we are manufacturing large, front assembly radiator guards – cutting the metal, welding it, building the assembly and re-machining the full assembly,” said John, “and for Deere, we make the tie rod for the four-wheel drive tractors. It is almost 10 feet long, and we flame cut, machine, paint and send it back to them. We also manufacture their cab mounts; we need the accuracy of these machines. These parts are a couple thousand dollars each.”  Adding machining as a core competency, Metalcraft got a leg up on the competition, especially as customers push for the full production package. “We are able to do high-speed machining now, which we couldn’t do before,” said Grotelueschen.  By speeding up machining and eliminating setups due to the five-axis & five-sided capability, Metalcraft dramatically reduced cycle times and re-work.

“The Toyoda’s are very precise and consistent in production. They easily do what we couldn’t achieve by other means. It is a highspeed, high accuracy machine.”

That speed is combined with power and accuracy for an all-in-one solution for Metalcraft. “The accuracy on the machines is fantastic.  We need accuracy when you are working with high-cost parts,” said Grotelueschen. “The Toyoda’s are very precise and consistent in production. They easily do what we couldn’t achieve by other means. It is a highspeed, high accuracy machine.”

“The tool life is also different in that we can keep our costs down,” said John. “There are tools that have been on there since the beginning that I haven’t had to change, which is unusual for a machine of that size and application.” Metalcraft is replacing fewer tools, less often. With the FH1250SX’s range of five-axis capabilities, they no longer need expensive specialty tools for specific jobs—adding even more to their bottom line.

Metalcraft may have started as a fabrication and welding company, but as their machining capabilities take off, they will rely on Toyoda to get the job done.


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Unparalleled Accuracy

Prior solutions were unable to hold accuracy with tight tolerances, and the previous machine was inconsistent. The FH1250SX-5Axis machines deliver on precision, no matter the job.

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Added Value

Metalcraft’s core competencies were welding and metal fabrication—not machining. By adding the CNC machines, they have added value that wins large scope jobs. Metalcraft has an edge on the competition by offering fabrication and machining, under one roof.

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