Duggan Manufacturing comes from humble beginnings, founded by two friends—Rodney Westich and Tony Pinho—with the main goal of building a prototyping business that would provide better service for their customers. Westich and Pinho had many years of experience in the automotive industry. In 2000, they took a leap of faith and went to friends and family to get seed money for their new contract manufacturing venture. They purchased a few used machines and began operating out of a former dairy barn and welding shop in Almont, Mich. They initially specialized in automotive specialty sheet metal prototyping and limited production manufacturing.
From the onset, Duggan Manufacturing strove to take on challenges like labor-intensive and tight-tolerance parts that few competitors wanted to tackle. While these jobs were not always the most desirable, they became an opening for a new, hungry company to create a solid reputation for going the extra mile and providing unprecedented attention to detail. This carried over as part of the company’s DNA from the beginning and has never left. The company now has more than 90 employees working in a main 72,000-ft2 (6,689-m2) main facility and a 28,000-ft2 (2,601-m2) satellite building. Today, Duggan is a category 1 supplier of precision metal fabrication, prototype manufacturing, and short-run production for Tier 1 suppliers and OEMs in the Midwest.
“We devised a plan on how to get the business at Duggan Manufacturing rolling, and from that point on, it’s been a steady reinvestment plan in the latest machine technology,” Westich explained. “We put as much money back in the company as possible.”
A large part of that investment plan has been dedicated to Prima Power 3D fiber lasers.
Duggan purchased a 2-kW Prima Power Rapido fiber laser in 2010 and another Rapido in 2011. The Prima Power Rapido is equipped with a fiber laser source with different powers, according to the type of production. The high-brilliance fiber laser with high-energy efficiency, eco-compatible use and no maintenance provides the greatest benefits in large series production. Many applications take advantage of this source, resulting in lower cycle times and reduced cost per part.
“We had such great results with the two Prima Power Rapido fiber lasers that there was no second guessing in what we were going to do when we needed a limited-production laser with a turntable,” said Pinho, president of Duggan Manufacturing. “We purchased the Prima Power 4-kW Laser Next in 2016.”
Automotive part manufacturers need highly specialized products to cut sheet metal parts. Thanks to over 35 years in this field and continuous dialogue with customers and partners in the automotive industry, Prima Power designed the new Laser Next 3D laser machine chiefly for the automotive user. Laser Next 3D’s primary benefits include:
Maximizing throughput with a dramatic reduction of cycle times. With Laser Next, productivity on a typical benchmark component (B-pillar) was raised by 25 percent; four Laser Next systems produce as much as five previous model machines.
Space-efficient layout for stand-alone and multi-machine configuration. Space is money, and a well-conceived layout helps save space and optimize plant logistics. A compact installation helps a shop install more machines, since the shop can have up to three units, one next to the other, connected to the same magnetic scrap conveyor, with no need for excavation works. Given the same area, it is possible to install more machines—for instance, four Laser Nexts instead of three units of the previous model.
Improved Overall Equipment Efficiency. For Laser Next, Prima Power capitalized on its experience with hundreds of installations for the 24/7 manufacturing of high-strength steel components, widely used in automotive production. Every detail was studied to maximize machine uptime. Maintenance was also simplified to reduce non-productive times and the need for specialized resources dedicated to these activities.
The Laser Next has a working range of 3,050 × 1,530 × 612 mm and is equipped with a 3-kW or 4-kW high-brilliance fiber laser. Its compact focusing head, fully sealed for optimum protection, features direct-drive motors, double-protection SIPS, fully metallic sensor and Focal Position Control.
“We try to make key investments, like we did with Prima Power,” said Westich. “We were the first sheet metal prototype company in the area to have fiber lasers in 2010. That was a good investment for us. It reduced our maintenance and overhead costs, and we were able to save some floor space. One fiber laser machine will replace two CO2 lasers. The fiber lasers allowed us to continue to be competitive in the market. As our CO2 lasers wore out, we replaced them with Prima Power fiber lasers. We have three Prima Power fiber lasers that comfortably replaced five CO2 lasers. These investments helped us grow.”
According to Pinho, Duggan Manufacturing serves a wide variety of industries, including automotive, battery technology, aerospace and defense, printing, racking and material handling, off-highway trucking, robotics and others. “By purchasing the Prima Power equipment, we are able to diversify into different industries,” said Pinho. “With the Prima Power lasers, we can get those higher volumes [so] we can take the cost out of the job. At one time, automotive was 75 percent of our business. Today, the automotive prototype industry is a fraction of what it was when we started. That is why we diversified. The automotive prototype industry is evolving. The simulation and the software are getting better, so you don’t have to build as many physical ones.”
“We typically use the Laser Next on the higher volume work,” said Westich. “When we do the limited production work, it’s a perfect fit for the Laser Next. We can cut parts that would be impossible without it. The talent and passion that enabled our company to grow from a small team operating out of a dairy barn to a major manufacturing and prototype development facility continues to drive us forward today.”