Focus on Flexibility

RampForming this wedge-shaped ramp for an elliptical machine with “brushed” 304 Stainless Steel 3/16 thick was going to be difficult while maintaining its cosmetic integrity throughout the process.

First, the tooling was designed to take extreme side loads because of the wedge shape of this part.  The customized tooling forms were made of an extreme wear resistant Aluminum Bronze material that could hold up to the intense forming pressures.

Second, we effectively streamlined the stamping process utilizing the flexibility of the 800-ton press and its large bed size of 168”.  We were able to change our manufacturing concept from a two-stage operation, “blank & secondary form”, to completing the formed ramp off the progressive die in the press.  This process reduced production times and costs.

Third, an in-house work cell was developed for edge finish operations and washing of the ramp.  In fact, a special holding fixture was made to facilitate the hand polishing operations due to the part’s shape, length and weight of 25 pounds.  A soap bath in intense temperatures followed to ease the removal of the plastic film before packaging.  This in-house work cell provided greater flexibility and centralized the ramp’s entire production compared to outsourcing the operations.

Detailed Toolmaking

WasherWe recently had a lawn and garden manufacturer ask us to look at a special lock washer that their current supplier couldn’t make to print.  The difficult issue was that the tabs needed to be compressed down to a certain height within a certain force range; and then the tabs had to return to a certain height after compression.

Their supplier built a die with only one station to both lance and form the tabs in a single hit; and this didn’t produce a part to print.  We analyzed the lock washer and with the customer’s input formed a plan of action that would yield a part that matched the print.  This review process included increasing tight corner radii to prolong die life between sharpening.  We also requested multiple bend radii be increased to prevent cracking.  All simple corrections that can be missed when quoting a stamped part.

In this case, we also designed and built force testing equipment and gaging so we could measure force range produced by the various prototypes.  This allowed us to develop the cut and form geometry of the locking features that were critical to the function of the part.  We then designed the tool to match the best results from prototyping and the resulting tool successfully met the customers design intent.

Manufacturing Day 2017

On October 6th we welcomed local high school students to our facility for National Manufacturing Day.  We presented information on the skills and qualities required for a variety of jobs at Ultra.  An interactive tour of the plant followed with stops in Tool & Die, Metal Stamping, Value-Added, Fabrication and Design.  Technical college representatives and Ultra apprentices were available at the end of the tour to discuss educational and career options with the students.

Announcing the addition of the Minster Servo FX2-300

Starting in October 2017 Ultra Tool & Manufacturing will be entering a new era in metal forming with the installation of a NEW Minster Servo FX2-300.  This servo press features programmable stroke control for maximum manufacturing flexibility.

Minster’s FX2 Servo features unique liquid cooling technology leading to a longer motor life and less heat transfer to the press for a more stable production environment.

minsterThe durability and flexibility of a Minster Servo Press are unmatched and will allow us to continuously improve our manufacturing capabilities as customers specifications are ever changing and increasing in complexity.  In addition, the servo motor and drive technology is produced by Siemens a global leader in electric motors.

Tonnage: 330(US Tons)
Stroke: 11.81”
Bed Size: 48” x 96”
Max Thickness: .250”
Max SPM: 51
Max Width: 30”


Helpful information for removing stamping burrs

In the world of metal stamping, burrs and sharp edges are often interchangeable.

Whenever sheet metal is cut the characteristics of the cut edges are the same.   They will exhibit a roll-over, cut band, a break band and a burr.  There are tooling techniques that can eliminate the burr, but for now let’s set that aside.

removing burrs

Cutting action takes place in three stages as the punch or cutting-edge moves through the material:  1) initial plastic deformation, 2) penetration, and 3) fracture.  During initial plastic deformation, the “edge radius” or “roll-over” is formed.  During penetration, the “cut band” or “burnish” is created.  During fracture, the break is created and a burr is developed.  A normal anticipated burr produced with a sharp tool will be up to 10% of the material thickness and will be sharp.  For example, .100 thick material = .010 burr.

When a part print has a note stating, “no burrs or sharp edges”, in a pure sense this isn’t possible without post processing and added cost.  Is that really the designers’ intent or do they really mean no extreme burrs?  Often designers get nervous discussing their intent because they do not want any assemblers to get cut…and it’s hard for us to quantify what the exact result will be.

Our goal is to thoroughly discuss every inch of your part pre-production so that all parties involved understand the expected results and costs involved with removing stamping burrs.

Announcing the FEELER FV-2214 Double Column Bridge Mill

We are excited to announce a new addition on the plant floor…the FEELER FV-2214 Double Column Bridge Mill.  We wanted to expand our manufacturing abilities and the unsurpassed performance and value of a FEELER machine along with their rigorous quality control made it an easy decision.  “The main structural component of our FEELER mills are manufactured from heavily ribbed cast iron to ensure excellent finishes in large, complex parts” according to their product manager, Paul Hurtig.

  • 35hp motor
  • 50 taper spindle(2 speed, 10,000 max rpm)
  • 55” x 85” table

With this new bridge mill we can now machine bigger components and larger die-sets in-house versus having them machined on the outside.  This gives us better control of the quality and eliminates rework because critical information no longer needs to be communicated back and with forth with an outside machinist.  We also know that keeping more work in-house will reduce lead time.

We are confident adding the capacity of the FEELER FV-2214 to our CNC machining department will benefit our customers in quality, price and delivery.


New Faces at Ultra Tool

We’re excited to introduce three new faces at Ultra Tool!

Carla Schmidt, Chief Financial Officer


Carla Schmit has replaced our long-time Director of Finance, Marty Kuphall, who retired last year. Carla is a CPA with a wealth of knowledge and experience from a variety of companies, both public and private.

Adoption of a new management system, EOS or Entrepreneurial Operating System, resulted in a restructuring of the organization and the hiring of Matt Price.

Matt Price, Director of Operations


Matt has experience in the Aerospace and Military industries and directs the operation areas: stamping, fabrication, value added, and shipping.

Welcome Carla and Matt!

Traction Toward a Vision

ultratool-tractionUltra Tool has adopted a new company-wide management system known as Entrepreneurial Operating System, or EOS. EOS simplifies and systemizes how to run a business by focusing efforts on six key components: Vision, People, Processes, Data, Issues and Traction.

In mid-2016, Ultra Tool’s Leadership Team was looking for a way to generate the next wave of growth. Around the same time, Terry Hansen, President, was introduced to the book Traction by Gino Wickman about EOS – a practical method for strengthening a business. After sharing the book and EOS model with the Leadership team, a decision was made to implement EOS at Ultra Tool.

The most impactful EOS tool thus far has been the Accountability Chart, which restructured the organization by accountability and responsibility. This has resulted in a constructive change in our Sales and Marketing efforts and the creation of an Engineering Department. One especially exciting outcome is a renewed focus of our new part introduction process to improve on-time delivery and reduce cost.

The ultimate goal behind EOS is to improve the performance of the company door to door, resulting in traction toward our vision.  “It’s been an exciting journey,” said Hansen. “There’s a real sense of where we are going and how we are going to get there.”

While there is no end to the continuous improvement journey for Ultra, EOS is the next step in our pursuit of excellence.