Manufacturing Day 2014 Recap: Another Home Run!

Manufacturing Day, recently celebrated on October 3, was a truly successful day for American manufacturers throughout the country. In its third year, it saw over 100,000 attendees and was even cited by the White House as the “method for securing a talent pipeline in manufacturing.”*

The overall goal of the day was to get manufacturers to open their doors, showcase the mfgday14 great work they do and their impact on their communities, and get young people interested and excited. Personally, we can say that it was a great success.

Along with over 1,600 other companies nationwide, we actively participated in Manufacturing Day, opening our doors to students and teachers from three area high schools. 18 students from Northwestern High School, 18 students from Springfield High School, and 39 students from Clark County CTC visited us and got firsthand knowledge and hands-on participation.

It began with an introductory speech by our President, Dave Arndt, who spoke about manufacturing technology and growth opportunities throughout Southwest Ohio. He presented a five-minute video history of manufacturing and stamping in the auto industry, which the students showed great interest in.

Next, the students were given a tour of the Pentaflex facilities, with a hands-on opportunity to see stamping and welding in action, including our new 300T servo press drive, featuring the latest technology.

mfgday14-2After the shop tour, Ross McGregor talked about opportunities at Pentaflex offering exciting positions with plenty of growth. Each student was given a flash drive showing manufacturing at Pentaflex, which they could bring home with them and show their family and friends what they had seen and learned.

While we could see the interest on their faces and were able to experience their excitement, we think the actual words of the students are proof of the day’s success. This is what we received from one school, signed by all of the students: “Thank you so much for the wonderful field trip on Manufacturing Day! We really enjoyed touring the plant, and we appreciate the time you took to teach us about Pentaflex and the manufacturing industry…We are looking forward to working with you in the future!”

We are looking forward to it as well.


Why is Deep Drawing So Popular?

When you think about metal forming, it is not a surprise when deep drawing is the first thing that comes to mind. As the most popular of the metal forming methods, deep drawing is a great way to form metal sheets into just about any shape. So why is it so widely used? Why is deep drawing often the preferred method of metal forming especially when the depth of item matches or exceeds its radius? Once you get to know the deep drawing process, it will make complete sense.

The General Process

It all begins with the ubiquitous metal blank. You start with a single blank and a metal die; jobshopfrom there, it is really up to your imagination and the amount of pressure you apply. While this sounds like your average metal stamping process, it is different in that deep drawing offers the ability to create products deeper than regular metal stamping. There are some limitations, like radial drawing stress and tangential compressive stress causing wrinkling, fracturing, and cracking. However there have been improvements in recent years and the addition of a number of new processes including hydroforming, aquadrawing, hydro-mechanical deep drawing, hydraulic deep drawing, the Guerin process, and the Marform process have removed some of these risks.


While this list is far reaching, deep drawing is used in the creation of products of all shapes and sizes including,

  • Electronics relays
  • Solenoids
  • Assembly housings
  • Aluminum cans
  • Cookware
  • Kitchen sinks

Cost Benefits of Deep Drawing

Deep drawing can and often does lower your costs. This is especially true when you are producing a product in high volumes. Once you lock down your tooling and dies, the deep drawing process moves forward with little downtime. On top of this, tool construction costs are usually lower than other processes. The only draw back is that, like most manufacturing projects, when the complexity increases so does the cost.

End Product Benefits

If you are looking to create a product that requires strength and minimal weight, especially a cylindrical object, deep drawing is the perfect choice. It is also the way to go if your project demands,

  • Seamless parts
  • Rapid cycle times
  • Complex axi-symmetric geometries
  • Reduced technical labor

Of course, there are many other benefits and some limitations to deep drawing. To find out if deep drawing is right for you, we suggest contacting us. Our metal forming experts, combined with our outstanding selection of equipment, makes Pentaflex a perfect place for your next deep drawing project!







Sales of the Servo-Driven Press are on the Upswing – Have You Kept Up?

Mechanical presses still dominate the manufacturing industry and stamping press market, but according to a capital equipment survey from the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association Intl., the servo-driven press is coming on strong. Spending projections on servo presses for 2013 were nearly triple of the previous year.

Instead of a flywheel, main motor, and clutch, a servo press uses a servomotor that basically makes the slide a controllable axis. In the last 3 years, for example, press-makers have come up with a variety of types, but whatever the specific design, the servo press is able to overcome issues associated with flywheel-clutch mechanical presses.

In a traditional mechanical press, energy is delivered from the flywheel through a clutch, down the connecting rods, which drive the ram that produces maximum tonnage at some point above bottom dead center. The main drive motor then has to speed up the flywheel again before the tool hits the material. Therefore, the mechanical press stroke must be a certain speed, because the minimized speed of the flywheel won’t be able to provide enough energy to produce the needed force to cut through and form the metal. A press with a servomotor, however, can deliver maximum torque at any speed.

With the push toward high-strength-to-weight metal ratios, engineers have become creative with the servo press’s forming capabilities. It comes down to the ability to control slide position and velocity—within microns. With the control of the forming stroke comes control of speed, velocity… plus performance and efficiency.

So while traditional mechanical presses remain dominant in industry for now, sales of servo presses continue to make headway into the market. Controlling the press stroke has many advantages, and during recent years, many smaller-tonnage servo presses have started serving aerospace, defense, and other high-tech sectors.



The Importance—and Success—Of Industry Trade Shows

To be successful in manufacturing, there’s more to it that producing quality products. Of course that’s critical, but in order to achieve this, even more has to be done. Constant learning, growing, and evolving are necessary.

One of the best ways to achieve this is through regularly attending industry trade shows. This is where you interact with peers and customers, and attend educational seminars that focus on what’s new, what’s exciting, and what’s truly innovative. This is how a company truly achieves learning and growth.

We place great importance on this, and recently attended three shows which all proved to be invaluable.

HDMA Heavy Duty Dialogue, Nashville, TN, March 10, 2014

One of the top conferences for the domestic and global commercial vehicle industry, this event focused on the “changes and challenges within the industry,” with information on “developing effective strategies to grow and prosper in the ever-changing global HD markets.”

Many experts talked about the connected vehicle, and opportunities for connecting operators. We discussed and learned more about advanced safety, driving, and maintenance systems for improved truck performance, and were fortunate enough to be exposed to a positive outlook for the economy from Bill Strauss of the Federal Reserve. Furthermore, Gary Meteer and Andrej Divis, representing the heavy truck market and IHS, respectively, offered invaluable insight.

Mid-America Trucking Show, Louisville, KY, March 26-28, 2014

With over 1,000 exhibitors from 78 countries and all 50 states, this conference was a huge success. We reviewed exhibits on the latest innovations and concept vehicles for heavy truck manufacturers, including OEMs and engine, suspension, and drive train suppliers.

Cummins and Eaton were there, displaying a new fuel economy power train that’s integral to getting 10 mpg with an extended warranty. We also watched videos of the latest safety systems in action at the Knorr-Bremses booth, and met with a range of interesting people and products.

PMA One Voice Legislative Conference, Washington, DC, May 6-7, 2014

This sixth-annual event saw the opportunity for attendees to “have [their] voice heard directly by the policymakers who are creating the laws of the nation.” It was truly exciting—we had the chance to meet with Speaker of the House John Boehner, as well as Senator Portman and Congressman Gibbs.

We discussed issues important to stamping product manufacturers, including health care costs, tax regulations, and government regulations. We talked extensively about the potential impact of changing ozone emissions regulations (from the current 75ppm to 60ppm), as well as the potential impact to lost jobs, revenue, and business expansion on the state of Ohio.

What is the Best Fuel for Natural Gas-Powered Cars?

Fuel-intensive fleets that travel many miles each day have been using natural gas for years. This would include fleets of taxicabs, transit and school buses, airport shuttles, construction vehicles, garbage trucks, delivery trucks and public works vehicles. Fleets are especially suited to natural gas because a larger volume of vehicles makes it more economical to convert vehicles or to purchase them outright. Plus, fleet vehicles are centrally maintained, making refueling easy and reliable.

The advantages of natural gas vehicles (NGVs) are well-known: The biggest being the carbonfootdrastic reduction of harmful emissions. NGVs can achieve up to a 93% reduction in carbon monoxide emissions, 33 % reduction in emissions of various oxides of nitrogen and a 50 % reduction in reactive hydrocarbons. NGVs are also safer; the fuel storage tanks on an NGV are thicker and stronger than gasoline or diesel tanks. Natural gas costs are lower than gasoline. Natural gas generally costs one-third less than gasoline at the pump.

NGVs have lower maintenance costs. Because natural gas burns so cleanly, it results in less wear and tear on the engine and extends the time between tune-ups and oil changes.

Recently, there have been some new innovations in heavy trucks that use natural gas as fuel; either compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG). Several companies have already built heavy-duty natural gas trucks: Navistar, Freightliner, Petervilt, Volvo.

So far, compressed natural gas seems to be “winning.” There are more CNG filling stations, and it is easier to pump and to store. LNG is a more energy-dense fuel than CNG, (meaning your truck can go more distance on a fill-up), but LNG must be stored at –260 degree Fahrenheit or it will evaporate as pure methane into the air.

Now there is also a third option: Primus Green Energy, a tiny tech company, thinks they’ve found a better way. They’ve built a pilot plant to perfect the technology of taking natural gas and converting it into gasoline. Turning natural gas into gasoline – and then 75% of vehicles in the United States can already use it immediately.

This process has been tried before. Mobil developed similar technology as long ago as 1979. However, it was extremely energy-intensive – and far too expensive to do large-scale. Primus says they’ve been able to improve on the earlier process to make it more energy-efficient. It’s too soon to know if Primus Green Energy can get a plant up and running, but the technology for turning natural gas into gasoline has been around for 30 years and it’s a good time get it going again.


Technology Meets Efficiency: The Country’s First Automated Transmission with Spark-Ignited Natural Gas Engine

The landscape of American manufacturing is rapidly changing—in a good way. It seems almost every day there’s a new advancement in technology and a novel use for manufacturers’ innovation. We are all collectively creating an industry that is as competitive as it is impressive.

Two great areas of technology and innovation—and of major industrial advancement—are in transportation and natural gas. Vehicle makers and their suppliers are seeing more demand than in a very long time, and America’s natural gas boom is generating goinggreenemployment and making manufacturing better and less expensive.

Combine the two areas, and you’ve really got a winning combo. That’s what Eaton and Cummings Westport did, recently announcing their offering of the first automated transmission to be paired with a spark-ignited natural gas engine in North America.

The transmission features a powertrain package combining the Eaton UltraShift PLUS automated transmission with the Cummins Westport ISX12 G engine. According to this article, the product will meet the market demand, based on “the interest in alternative fuels driving more fleets to integrate natural gas engines into their portfolio,” while offering “best-in-class” technology. More and more people are seeking natural gas paired with automated transmissions, and this product does just that.

Available mid-2014 for limited application release, the transmission offers “maximum power capacity, superior acceleration and low-speed maneuverability.” Other features include:

  • A robust power band at 1500-1800 rpm
  • Peak torque at 1200 rpm
  • Heavy-duty natural gas engine available with horsepower of 320 hp to 400 hp (239-298 kW) with 1450 lb-ft (1966 N”¢m) peak torque
  • Hill Start Aid, preventing rollbacks and reducing risk while simplifying operations
  • Intelligent shift selection software

The product serves as an excellent example of American manufacturers coming together to offer a technologically-advanced product that utilizes the benefits of natural gas, meets market demand, and offers greater efficiency.


The New Fuel Efficiency Standards: How They Relate to Us and Our Clients

If you’re familiar with us, you may be familiar with our mission: to meet or exceed the requirements of our employees, customers, investors, suppliers, and community through continuous improvement. Meeting and exceeding these needs always means staying on top of the latest news and changes affecting our clients and their industries, and reacting accordingly.

You may have heard that a few weeks ago President Obama announced his intentions to issue tougher fuel-efficiency standards for large trucks, starting this year and with the goal of a 10-20% increase in fuel economy by 2018. According to the President, increasing these trucks’ fuel efficiency would make the U.S. more energy independent while reducing greenhouse gas emissions (which are linked to climate change) and saving American consumers money.

This current focus on large trucks, Obama explained, is because while they make up only 4% of vehicles on the road, they cover more miles and are responsible for roughly 20% of the greenhouse gas emissions. The new standards come on top of, and specifically relate to, standards already in place for 2014-2018 model years.

So how does this relate directly to us, and in turn, to our customers? One of the proposed aspects of building more fuel-efficient vehicles is through weight reduction, and this requires us to place greater emphasis on ultra high-strength steel and/or aluminum. With aluminum, this will mean changing the way vehicles are assembled, which will be a new technology we will be working on.   Right now, we will address this through emphasizing higher strength steels.

This is—and will continue to be—addressed in a number of ways. Presently, we are acquiring new servo drive presses that will allow us to make thinner gage parts and better formability with high strength steels. The new press with servo coil feeders can handle steel down to .030 inch thick, as opposed to .060 inch thick minimum in our current presses. The servo presses are also designed to result in less maintenance, and less energy use.

Additionally, many legislators are working on renewing R&D tax credits which would provide incentives for developing technologies and allow American manufacturers to be even more competitive and innovative. If continued this year, this would be another way we, and companies like us, could continue technological advancements that work toward greater fuel efficiency, among other things.

Regardless, we will continue meeting regulations, advancing our work, meeting your needs, and keeping you informed.


Taking a Look Ahead

The New Year is always a good time to look back and reflect. Many look back at the past year and compare how far they have come, the goals they were able to accomplish and create new ones for the upcoming months. At Pentaflex we are no different. We have achieved many of our aggressive goals in 2013 and we have set equally challenging goals for 2014.

Last year we set out to improve in a number of areas including, safety, quality, delivery 2014_and_fireworksand productivity. Our primary metrics for safety allowed us no lost time injuries. Our quality reached 30PPM across all customers, we delivered less than $10,000 expedited freight, not to mention had a 3% productivity improvement, and financial goals for EBIT and positive cash flow were achieved. That was just the start of our great year.  Our performance matched Pentaflex to the world class standards presented by Precision Metalforming Association in many areas.  In addition, all new programs were launched on time.  Capital expenditures in excess of a million dollars were made to upgrade welder and press systems.  Finally, we received not one, but two 2013 Manufacturing Excellence awards from the Precision Metalforming Association, a rare feat.

For 2014, we have established equally aggressive new goals for safety, quality, delivery, productivity, and financial performance.  Our Board has shown confidence and dedication to the business by authorizing the purchase of (2) new AIDA servo presses—-a 300T and a 630T with servo coil feed systems.  The 300T press will replace an existing press.  The 630T press will provide Pentaflex with new capabilities including the capability to run parts at .030” thickness and a larger bed size than we currently have with our 500T mechanical presses.  The 630T press is specified to open up opportunities with the automotive industry in addition to our heavy truck, agricultural, and industrial business where our core competency has been with deep draw, heavy gage parts.

We look forward to this next year and hope for continued success!

Sharing Our Experience from the FabTech Show

Each year Pentaflex sends our management team to attend various trade shows and conferences. This year we had the opportunity to attend the 2013 FabTech conference and exposition in Chicago, Illinois.

Around 40,000 attendees involved with metalforming, welding, assembly, and coating operations were in attendance. The event was held at the McCormick place. The 600,000 square foot facility allowed 1500 exhibitors to display their equipment and  services.

The FabTech show was also used to introduce the winners of the Precision Metalforming IMG_20131117_180213_101 (2)2013 Manufacturing Excellence awards.  Pentaflex was selected as the award winner for two of the awards in the categories of productivity and quality systems.  Press releases, articles in the Metalforming Magazine, and recognition in the PMA booth at the Fabtech show discussed the Pentaflex awards.

Conferences like this one are a great way to learn about the newest trends throughout the industry. As you all know American manufacturing has been a hot topic in the recent year. IMG_20131118_105055_450The lead article from the FabTech show daily newspaper highlighted that manufacturing in the US is here to stay.  The article went on to explain manufacturing needs that will support continued growth in the US.  They included: 1) giving businesses certainty—businesses can’t plan without certainty on taxes, regulations, health care, etc. 2) remember small businesses in tax reform—–most small businesses are S corp and need to be thought of the same as C corp businesses, 3) Don’t sacrifice innovation and capital investment in the name of tax reform—many tax credits hanging in balance for continuation into 2014, 4) training for young workers the skills needed for manufacturing careers—manufacturing jobs are good, high paying jobs requiring sophisticated math and mechanical skills.

The keynote speaker for the FabTech conference was “Pro-Business” economist Alan Beaulieu.  He highlighted that even though most of the country thinks we are in a recession we are actually in a sustained period of growth—-albeit small.  His advice to businesses is to prepare for good years in 2015-2017 by spending money on capital investments in 2014 before rising interest rates and additional regulations from Dodd-Frank increase costs.  He also stated that there would be a slight downturn in the second half of 2014 and that time can be used to install new equipment, train workforces, and ready companies for the three years of increased growth that he sees from 2015 to 2017.  Pentaflex is following that strategy and has recently purchased two new servo presses to be installed in 2014 which will provide added capacity and process forming capabilities going forward. We couldn’t be more excited about the years ahead.

American Manufacturing: Why and How to Keep it Moving Forward

From consistent stories of manufacturers taking part in reshoring, to solid data showcasing the growth of the industry, American manufacturing is now in the midst of optimistic times. In fact, according to this recent article, “Manufacturing activity in the U.S. expanded at the fastest pace in 2½ years last month…[which was] the fifth straight gain for the index.”

However, this doesn’t mean we can let down our guards and assume it will just continue. manufacturingday9We all need to remain proactive and continue this forward motion. We need to remember that by supporting American manufacturing and buying American-made products, we directly impact our economy and our workforce. Simply put, the more U.S. products consumers purchase, the more American jobs are saved and created.

What can we as individuals do? One easy but significant thing is to take part in American Made Matters® Day, on November 19. This is a day being organized by American Made Matters® whose purpose is to encourage “consumers to buy at least one American-made product to show their support for American manufacturing…[and to] kick-off a movement encouraging Americans to buy products made in America throughout the upcoming holiday shopping season.”

If every American takes part in this, the positive effects on manufacturing and our economy could be widespread and truly great. At Pentaflex Inc., we believe in the cause and in this great industry, and know firsthand the value and importance of this country’s manufacturing sector. We have been a “Made in the USA” supplier for over 40 years, located in Springfield, Ohio.

As a stamper of heavy metal deep drawn stampings, we recognize the importance of manufacturing in America, in order to support American industry for many distinct advantages. The majority of our products are built into the axles, brakes, suspensions, and exhaust systems of American-built class 8 trucks. We also export our products for building in the global facilities of American truck manufacturers manufacturing products for their local market. The local nature of our stampings for North American truck manufacturers is important toward controlling costs based on material, logistics, and technology advantages.

As a proud American manufacturer, we support and rely upon utilizing domestic products, and we encourage everyone to take part in the mission.