Lapham-Hickey Steel – Seeing the Future with Laser Precision Focus

It all started in 1926 when four partners purchased the Chicago Mill Depot from the Fitzsimmons Cold Drawn Bar Company of Youngstown, Ohio. Each armed with specific experience, the partnership of Frank Hickey, Edward Lapham, Burnham Lapham and George Clifford began to build what we know today as Lapham Hickey Steel. This fourth-generation, family owned company is consistently ranked as one of the top services centers in the United States.

Nine decades is a long time to be in business. One can appreciate the tenacity and stubborn leadership that weathered every steel market and economic cycle an industry can face in 90 years. Even in the early days of the business there was an awareness to the opportunity of diversification and evolving the company from a distribution only business model to a steel processing platform. Lapham-Hickey now offers a broad range of services from steel distribution and coil processing to full metal fabrication services. The company has a strategic network of seven locations in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Connecticut to service their extensive customer base.

"Lapham-Hickey has a mantra – 'Your Partner in Production'. When you are a supplier to some of the country's most prominent manufacturers that's a serious statement. It's a commitment not only in mission but also in investment. It's a commitment to having the latest and most advanced machine tool technologies to meet customer demands, states Gary Wyngaard, General Manager – Oshkosh."

2017 will mark the year Lapham-Hickey has ventured to stay on the leading edge of laser technology. Lapham-Hickey certainly isn't a new comer to the laser industry. They have been a Bystronic Co2 laser user for almost 15 years. They have now invested into a fleet of new Bystronic ByStar 10kw Fibers in Bystronic's configurable automation systems. The first ByStar Fiber, was installed in Little Canada, MN earlier this year. Pat Domeier, GM of Little Canada offered the following statement. "Our facility was a first-time laser user. We found the entire Bystronic system easy to learn and operate. The speed is great but the future ability to move raw material through the system is extremely important to take the best advantage of the machine's speed. The automation will be key to our efficiency. Frankly, we are pumping out tons of finish product though this system as of now. We look forward to the automation's impact on our production."

The ByStar Fiber 10kw Laser is capable of cutting up to 5 times faster than a CO2 Laser, and with the combined benefit from 50% less operating costs, the new Bystar Fiber 10KW represents the most significant business difference in laser cutting since fiber technology was introduced.

Right down to the smallest detail, the new ByStar Fiber has been designed from the ground up for fiber laser cutting, without compromises.

  • High cutting dynamics, thin to thick cutting capabilities, seamless automation solutions, intelligent sensor technology, and the integration into modern software systems is all possible with the ByStar Fiber 10kW.

  • The new ByStar Fiber cuts thin sheet metal at unrivaled speeds, but in addition also achieves outstanding cutting performance in the thick plate metal range up to 1.180 inch.

  • The large front-side door provides superior access to the cutting area and the large 22" full touchscreen control interface makes it easy to learn and operate.

  • With high-speed linear drives and a highly innovative triangle cutting bridge design, the ByStar Fiber can reach unprecedented speeds and accelerations while maintaining a very high level of edge quality and accuracy.

  • The Patented Bystronic Cutting head with adjustable focus position and beam diameter ensures the highest possible speed from thin to thick cutting while maintaining exceptional edge quality.

The world's fastest machines shouldn't be limited by waiting for material. The Bystronic configurable automation systems offer a major upgrade in efficiencies as well as ultimate flexibility to make the most of available, and differing, floor spaces. While both of Lapham-Hickey's Oshkosh and Little Canada locations have the new ByStar Fiber 10kw lasers, each location has a different Bystronic automation system arriving to meet the challenge of available floor space and specific push/pull demands.

Investing in machines is part of the equation. The impact of that decision of this size has the potential to create a major disruption to production. The importance of a team approach to major projects greatly improves the chances of success. John May, Project Manager – Oshkosh, "Our customers don’t accept excuses. They expect their parts on time with outstanding quality – period. That is why we demand the same level of commitment from our equipment and partnerships. We have come to depend on our relationship with On Point Solutions & Bystronic. Great equipment still needs great support and we get that from On Point & Bystronic."

Manufacturing and its support industries have been a cornerstone to the United States economy since the Industrial Revolution. Bold, free-market investment and calculated risk taking from entrepreneurs is what has made America the world's leading manufacturing economy. Companies, like Lapham-Hickey, exemplifies the true American company – one we should all be proud of.

When this project is completed, Lapham-Hickey will lead their industry in laser processing efficiency. These state of the art systems will have substantial impact on capability, capacity and growth for the business for years to come.

Sustained business growth is a challenge. Generational business growth is rare and takes long term, focused and committed vision. A sustaining attribute about Lapham-Hickey that their customers, vendors and employees should recognize – is that Lapham-Hickey has shown a laser focus on 'the next generation' and not just the next quarter. Lapham-Hickey is in it for the long haul. That is something truly special in today's business environment.

Arianna Stolt