Trim Tool & Machine, Inc. - Cleveland, Ohio
If you´ve driven a car, truck or SUV lately, chances are the trim die used to make your steering wheel was manufactured by Trim Tool & Machine, Inc. of Cleveland, Ohio.
In business since 1999, Trim Tool & Machine is a traditional mom and pop shop that offers abrasive waterjet cutting, CNC milling, stamping and diecast tooling, and machine building. The eight-person company serves a wide range of industries, from automotive to arts and architecture, and prides itself on its ability to turn work around within two to three days of an order, or even the same day, if necessary.
"We turn work around for people," said owner Dane Willis. "We get it in there and get it done. If the customer needs it today, we get it done. I will stay late and operate the equipment myself. We do the job when we say we are going to do it."
Trim Tool & Machine specializes in gages, fixtures, trim dies, special machines, custom metal art and repairs, but is best known as one of the largest producers of steering wheel trim dies in the United States. In fact, the company has produced trim dies used by nearly every auto manufacturer in the country.
A trim die is a specialized stamping tool made of thick hardened steel that is used to trim away excess metal from diecast castings, creating precise and consistent parts. While many companies use wire EDM to cut their trim dies, Willis said he uses a Jet Edge abrasive waterjet system because it is much faster and more cost-effective.
"That gives me a competitive edge," Willis noted. "With waterjet it costs $3 to $5 to cut one inch versus $10 to cut with wire. It's two-thirds more to wire cut something. You can utilize waterjet for about 85 percent of the die."
While waterjet is best known for cutting thinner materials, Trim Tool & Machine routinely uses their system to cut thick hardened metals, including 9-inch thick 4140 heat-treated steel.
"We typically cut 4 to 6 inches all day long," Willis said. "Anyone that comes in says 'wow, you cut thick.' We cut more thick steel than anybody. We design around it."
Five years ago, to set himself apart from the competition, Willis invested in a 4-foot by 8-foot precision high-rail gantry waterjet system manufactured by Jet Edge of St. Michael, Minn. The machine is powered by a 50-horsepower Jet Edge intensifier pump capable of producing up to 60,000 psi of ultra-high pressure water. Willis equipped his Jet Edge system with an extra large 5-foot by 13-foot tank to allow for future expansion with a spreader bar.
"I bought the largest and best one I could," he said.
Willis researched numerous waterjet systems for several years before deciding on Jet Edge. The system's bridge-style overhead gantry appealed to him, as did Jet Edge's commitment to customer service.
"I was a one man show, and to be perfectly honest, Jet Edge was one of the only companies that talked to me," he recalled. "It looked like it was constructed better, and upon researching it, everyone raved about the pump."
Willis said Jet Edge has exceeded his expectations, and that when a friend asked him what type of machine he should buy, he told him he could only recommend three manufacturers, but that he would go with Jet Edge over the other two, mainly because of the company's excellent support.
"Jet Edge has been very good," he said. "The support has been good, the sales staff has been great and the service staff has also been great."
Willis said his Jet Edge system has helped him increase productivity and reduce costs, saving customers' thousands of dollars and enabling him to expand his business.
"We have been able to maintain the cost of tooling despite the steel increase because we are using waterjet," he noted.
Willis recalled one project where a customer needed to have 28 .281 inch holes cut in half-inch thick hardened A-2 material. He was able to do the project for only $90 with his Jet Edge system.
"For someone to burn it or carbide it, it would have been hundreds of dollars," he said. "Waterjet can tackle hardened steel."
Trim Tool & Machine also has saved its stamping industry customers thousands of dollars by using its Jet Edge system to cut precise stamping strips that customers can use to make sample hits prior to making final adjustments to the cuts in the die.
"It saves them thousands of dollars in tryout time," Willis said. "The waterjet mimics the stamping process perfectly. Laser and plasma leave a case-hardened edge. When I talk a customer into waterjetting, they never go back to laser or plasma."
Willis noted that his Jet Edge system has resulted in a huge boom to his business, and that his sales doubled the first year after he bought his waterjet.
"At that point I was able to start hiring people," he said. "I believe I would not have survived the post-911 industrial crash if I hadn't had the waterjet. Without the waterjet, there is no way we would have been able to grow."
Trim Tool & Machine, Inc.
About Jet Edge
Jet Edge is an ultra-high pressure waterjet technology company with a global presence. Jet Edge's primary business includes designing, engineering, manufacturing and servicing ultra-high pressure intensifier pumps, precision waterjet and abrasive waterjet cutting systems, surface preparation, coating removal, and hydro-demolition products, as well as high-pressure cutting heads and related products, parts and components. Jet Edge products are used in a wide range of industries, from the world's leading airlines to automotive, aerospace and industrial manufacturers and machine and job shops.
Headquartered in St. Michael, Minnesota, the company has distribution partners throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East and serves customers in over 100 countries.