Forward Technology invests $1.2 million to meet growing demand for plastic welding systems

Strong growth of infrared welding equipment seen in automotive, appliance sectors

A growing U.S. economy has led to increased demand for plastics welding equipment in a range of markets, and that has resulted in Forward Technology (Cokato, MN ) expanding operations. A manufacturer of standard and custom plastic welding equipment and testing systems, Forward Technology’s expansion of its machining operations include the construction of a new facility to house its CNC operations and the purchase of a state-of-the-art four-axis machining center.

The company has seen strong growth of infrared welding equipment for the automotive and appliance markets to meet the demand of Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers. The $1.2-million investment enables the company to consolidate its CNC operations and perform all of its machining in-house, according to Brian Kivisto, President of Forward Technology and Executive Vice President of the Crest Group.

Forward Technology’s new 6600-square-foot CNC machining facility, which is attached to the company’s main manufacturing/office complex in Cokato, MN, will house Forward’s existing eight machining centers along with a new four-axis vertical machining center (VMC).  The VMC has 125 x 103 x 43 inch capacity, and features a right angle head that permits the use of a fourth axis. According to the company, it is one of the largest VMCs in the state of Minnesota.

The focused investment on machining, which was completed earlier this year, is an integral part of the company’s strategic growth strategy that targets improved productivity and reduced cost for its customers, explained Kivisto. “As a leading supplier of plastics assembly and testing equipment, this is another initiative that solidifies our further commitment to key national and multinational OEMs,” said Kivisto. “The new machining center enables us to be 100% self-sufficient for the production of large metal castings and welded machine frames and other systems for our complete portfolio of welding equipment.”

Previously, Forward Technology was forced to outsource machining for larger casting and frames because of the limited size of its existing machining centers. The new four-axis machining center will enable Forward to better respond to market needs by eliminating outsourcing to local vendors, thus reducing lead times and improving quality control. In some cases, lead times will be shortened by two to four weeks, according to Kivisto.

Forward Technology, a company of the Crest Group, manufactures standard and custom plastic welding and testing systems specifically suited for thermoplastic parts for a broad range of applications in the automotive, medical, appliance, battery, filtration/fluid air and consumer goods markets. The product line includes systems for hot plate welding, vibration welding, infrared welding, spin welding and ultrasonic welding, as well as systems for burst testing and custom leak testing.

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