J&N Metal Products LLC has been on the fast track since opening its doors in July 2006. At that time, President Jordan Brown expected to work out of his basement for six months to a year and perhaps buy a laser machine in two years. The enterprise did better than expected and before eight months passed, J&N was in a new building, had seven employees and had purchased a Super Turbo-X Champion hybrid laser from Mazak Optonics Corp.
Ordered in January and delivered in March, the first Champion laser machine was operational immediately. They came on Monday and we were cutting production parts on Thursday,” says Brown, whose company manufactures different types of aerospace structure assemblies and panel assemblies for private, government as well as other industrial parts.
Brown was eager to get the new machine going since he had been outsourcing thousands of dollars worth of sheet metal cutting jobs, costing himself and his customers both time and money. “From July to December, we had outsourced $55,000 worth of laser work,” Brown says. “But the biggest problem we were running into was lead time. The customers want their prototypes in days rather than weeks.”
Since March, J&N has eliminated 99 percent of its total outsourcing and all of their laser work outsourcing, which has resulted in the expected savings. The new laser machine saves us and our customers between 25 to 40 percent on costs, plus we’re saving on transportation,” Brown says. “The biggest thing is just to have a machine here for convenience. If someone cuts a hole in the wrong place, we can just cut another part. If we didn’t have a laser, we’d have to send it out and that takes a minimum of five days.”
Brown started his career as a flight mechanic on 727, 747 and DC-8 aircraft before going to work for a local company that produced production run parts and one-off equiupment. By the time he left that company to start out on his own, he was doing assembly work, drafting, programming lasers, serving on the sales team and piloting the company aircraft.
It was with that company that Brown first worked with Mazak Optonics laser machines. “I had experience with a competitors laser and Mazak lasers at my previous employer. I personally like the Mazak better, mainly because of the reliability of the machines,” says Brown, who adds that as a start-up company he was apprehensive about the cost of buying a laser cutting machine.
“Then Mazak Optonics came out with this machine and made it affordable,” he said. “Ninety percent of the components we were outsourcing were an eighth of an inch thick aluminum or thinner. That’s why I decided this machine would fit us best for now.”
Although J&N started out making parts for military helicopters, it quickly has been able to diversify, thanks to the Champion. “Once people in the local area find out you have a laser, you start getting calls daily from local businesses,” Brown says. “Now, we’re getting into industrial components and parts and considering getting a second machine.”
“Some of the things we’re doing ties up the machine for a couple of weeks and I don’t want to get into a situation where we’re turning customers away or falling behind because of the amount of work we have,” he says.
Brown’s favorite feature of his new Champion is the PREview control. “It’s extremely simple to learn,” he says. “It’s very, very, very user friendly.”
Get specs and more information on the Mazak Super Turbo-X Champion.