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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Amherstburg's PTooling unveils advanced manufacturing laser technology

A small, family-owned machine shop in Amherstburg is welcoming the universe to its doorstep by attracting major aerospace manufacturers and spaceflight companies with an industrial version of 3D printing, called laser additive manufacturing.

The Lasertec 65 3D “opened up the world to us,” said Marvin Fiebig, owner, president and CEO of PTooling.

“We were just unknown … just a little machine shop, “ Fiebig said. “We were just a family-run business with 20 employees and now all of a sudden we have (aerospace company) Airbus phoning us, we have Pratt and Whitney phoning us.”

They’ve also been contacted by Boeing, spaceflight companies Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin and aerospace manufacturer Space X.

“These are companies that we would not even be able to knock on their door (previously) but now we’re dealing with the actual design engineers, the procurement experts that are dealing with multimillion dollar acquisitions and that’s what this machine brings to the table,” he said.

The company unveiled its hybrid CNC machine Wednesday during a manufacturing forum and open house at its Saint Arnaud Street location.

Fiebig said PTooling is the only company in North America to produce parts for other companies using the new laser technology that can both add and subtract materials during the manufacturing process. Normally, laser manufacturing can only remove material.

The $2-million, German-made machine built by DMG Mori, which combines metallurgy and machine shop science, arrived last October.

Rakesh Naidu, interim CEO of the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corp., said additive manufacturing is finding its use and application in many different products and as production costs drop and rates of manufacturing get faster that will continue to expand.

“The next five, seven years we’re going to see a lot of change happen and we want to be at the forefront of the change,” Naidu said. “We want this region to benefit from this technology and we really think that we have the strength here to not just be able to manufacture product of the additive manufacturing machines but also to make machines here.”

PTooling has specialized in custom machine work for the oilfield industry since 2003 but with the downturn in that industry Fiebig said he had to find a way to diversify his business.

“It’s important to look within manufacturing to diversify,” Naidu said. “That’s where we’ve looked at light weighting and additive manufacturing as an important way to diversify … conventional manufacturing as we know it.”

Lee McGrath, WEEDC’s director of business retention and expansion, called Fiebig a leader and innovator.

McGrath praised him for “changing the way we manufacture in Windsor and Essex” and for investing in technology that will “keep them moving.”

The open house continues Thursday, with doors opening to the public at 9 a.m.

Windsor-Essex

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