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Equipped for growth

A Wisconsin fabricator continues to grow with the help of new cutting and material-handling equipment

Kapco Metal Stamping Inc. out of Grafton, Wis., knows a thing or two about metal. Since 1972, the family-owned fabricating and stamping company has been cutting, forming, joining and finishing sheet and tube into a myriad of products for virtually any industry looking for precision, quality work. Each year, the company sees 80 million lbs. of metal take shape in the company’s growing collection of facilities across the Badger State.

To achieve those impressive numbers, the team at Kapco also has to know a thing or two about the equipment required to get the processing job done. Recently, Kapco announced the acquisition of a new laser tube-cutting machine, a CNC tube bender, three state-of-the-art laser-cutting machines and three electric press brakes. And that’s just an accounting of the new equipment.

The company as a whole offers services from stamping and welding to cutting, machining and coating. The slew of equipment required to perform those services resides in 500,000 sq. ft. across several facilities. Prototyping, tool-and-die design and assembly are also part of Kapco’s cornucopia of offerings.

Automatic nozzle changing and cleaning features increase productivity and process safety.

Equipment matters

Of the new equipment recently brought online at Kapco is a Bystronic 6-kW BySprint fiber laser, which was introduced to the marketplace just last year. Available in the 3015 and 4020 formats, the new machine delivers higher power, increasing the cutting speed for thin- to medium-range sheet metal thicknesses.

“We went with the 3015 model with the 5-ft.-by-10-ft. table,” says Jim Kacmarcik, president at Kapco. “Over the past year we have also installed several Bystronic press brakes and have now purchased our first laser system with Bystronic.”

Assorted fiber laser cut parts from a variety of materials.

That fiber laser coupled with a ByTrans extended automated material-handling system will be put to work for lights-out operations. With the material-handling system, Kapco can quickly complete a loading and unloading cycle in 60 seconds. With its two cassettes, it allows Kapco’s operations to be more productive and autonomous than ever before.

Since its implementation, Kacmarcik says productivity and output have increased thanks to the laser’s vast capabilities. With fiber, Kapco can process metal three times faster than with conventional CO2 systems. Considering the vast amount of metal fabricated at Kapco’s facilities, its speed and capabilities were a welcome addition.

The ByVision CNC operating platform guides operators through the programming and manufacturing process.

“Because Kapco processes more than 80 million lbs. of material, we are able to focus on certain thickness and types with each of our lasers,” Kacmarcik explains. “With the new BySprint, we are focusing on thickness ranges from 0.171-in. mild steel through 0.312-in. grade 80 steel.”

The fiber laser’s nesting software is another aspect of the new equipment’s capabilities that aids Kapco on a daily basis. Referred to as BySoft 7, the software delivers cutting consistency beyond what was previously possible. Also introduced to the marketplace last year, Cut Control helps Kapco closely monitor the cutting process as well as edge detection, which enables the position of a loaded metal sheet to be determined precisely.

With Cut Control, Kapco’s new laser automatically stops if a cutting interrupt occurs. At that point, it returns to just before where the interrupt started and then repeats the cut. In doing so, Kapco can reduce rejection rates.

“The new BySprint processes this material faster and with an improved edge condition than our 5-kW lasers did,” says Kacmarcik. “We are very pleased with the software and how quickly our operators have learned to use it and all of the features on this machine.”

Implementation and learning

Training and support are at the heart of Bystronic’s relationship with its customers. And that dedication to customer service was quite clear to the team at Kapco as the company was having its new fiber laser installed.

“When Bystronic came into our plant we were pleasantly surprised at how easy and quick the installation was,” says Kacmarcik. “From the time of arrival to the first production of parts, this was the fastest installation we have ever experienced. Like any machine tool, we have had to make a few adjustments, but we could not be more pleased at how fast this machine came on board and how reliable it has been.”

Kacmarcik also stresses how the quick implementation of the equipment kept his company running smoothly. Bringing it online in such a fashion gives him and his team confidence that it will be a reliable addition to Kapco’s facilities today and in the future.

“Kapco runs machines 24 hours a day,” he says. “Sometimes we run in near non-stop mode for weeks on end, so we need reliable machines that are made to run all out, and the Bystronic laser is certainly one of the machines that we know we can count on.”

In addition to the quick implementation, the learning curve for those working with the new equipment was also fast. Bystronic places great importance on the usability of its machines, which was quite apparent for the laser operators at Kapco.

Ensuring that team members are comfortable and adept working with new equipment is important – not just for the operators but for Kapco’s customers, as well. Kapco has been cultivating a reputation for timely, quality work since opening its doors more than 40 years ago, and it will continue to maintain that standing with its customers as long as future implementations go just as smoothly as the one experienced with Bystronic.

The BySprint Fiber machine’s cutting head technology and range of fiber laser power offerings produce cut quality and speeds that enable a range of materials and thicknesses to be fabricated at Kapco.

Notable expansions

Although Kapco has carried the same reputation with its customers for multiple decades, the business itself doesn’t look the same as it did in its early days. If the growth of square footage says anything about success, Kapco is certainly doing well.

What started as a husband-and-wife team with Jim Kacmarcik’s father, Tom Kacmarcik Sr., has blossomed into something much bigger than the two probably ever expected. In 1972, Kapco was all under one roof in its facility in Grafton. By 1999, the company was in need of more space, which led to the opening of its new headquarters also in Grafton.

Since then, Kapco has added three additional buildings and expanded beyond Grafton with two more facilities in West Bend, Wis. In 2011, growth took root in northwestern Wisconsin where the company took over some of the Polaris Industries plant in Osceola, Wis. By doing so, Kapco helped to maintain employment for some of Polaris’ workforce while growing its own workforce to more than 450 employees.

At this rate, it seems as though there’s no stopping Kapco. Kacmarcik is incredibly devoted to carrying on his father’s growth initiatives and ensures that Kapco remains committed to creating jobs locally, growing the business profitably, giving employees opportunities to succeed and giving back to the community.

Since opening its doors in 1972, Kapco has grown from one facility in Grafton, Wis., to more than 500,000 sq. ft. in six plants.

“Kapco now has more than 500,000 sq. ft. in six plants, but our most aggressive growth is happening right now,” says Jim Kacmarcik, adding that companies like Bystronic have been great partners in that growth.

“Kapco believes in partnering with the right machine tool builders that can aid us in working on state-of-the-art solutions that continue to enhance our capabilities,” he says. “We are proud that Bystronic is one of those partners, and we look forward to expanding that relationship. As we work to double our capacity and with a large investment in new machine tools, Bystronic is certainly one of the partners we have confidence in.”

Kapco Metal Stamping Inc.

Bystronic Inc.