Second Laser Cutter Expands Capabilities, Boosts Efficiency
Ten years ago, it would be hard to believe that laser-cutting technology could possibly advance at the pace it has in the recent past. It would be even tougher to fathom that the cutting tools once reserved for incredibly specialized operations would make their way into the fabrication shops of multi-specialty contractors like Baker Group.
A long-time leader in delivering comprehensive solutions to its clients, Baker Group was among the first in the area to add a laser cutter to its shop to handle specialized metalwork. It has now added a second that delivers almost three times the power of the first.
The new cutter, manufactured by Bescutter, can cut carbon steel up to 7/8-inch thick. Additionally, it is efficient in cutting stainless steel nearly a half-inch thick, and aluminum and brass more than a quarter-inch thick. The new cutter works faster on thicker materials than the current laser cutter.
“Our clients will benefit tremendously from a lower price, a higher quality and a quicker turnaround, all because we can now handle these more complex jobs in-house,” says Jason Rice, Vice President of Field Operations for Sheet Metal. “By keeping the work in-house we control things from start to finish. This ensures consistency in our final product, while eliminating re-work.”
The cutting table is five feet by 10 feet and delivers 4KW of power. The machine is in Baker Group’s 80,000 square-foot specialized fabrication facility in Ankeny. It is operated by trained members of the sheet metal team, who also operate the current laser cutter, which delivers 1.5KW of power.
“Neither of our laser cutters are machines where you just push a button and let it go,” says Adam Sanders, Fabrications Operations Manager for Sheet Metal. “Running the software requires specialized training. Our aim is to have a primary operator for each of our cutters and at least two backup operators. This ensures we can deliver in virtually any timeframe regardless of the situation.”
Laser cutting has seen exponential growth in the specialized metal industry in recent years as the costs of acquiring the technology have decreased. In metalworking, specifically, laser cutting is the most efficient and consistent technology on the market to cut metal for products ranging from beams and columns to pipes, tubing, sheet metal and more. These products can be used in a variety of industries.
Currently, the table is being put to work cutting specialized flanges to be installed at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinic (UIHC) project being steered by Baker Group in North Liberty.
“That was something we would have sent out in the past,” Sanders says. “And in those cases, we were at the mercy of the contractor we were working with. This gives us much more of a handle on things. Especially when it comes to such a large-scale project like UIHC.”
Rice and Sanders agree that the time was right for Baker Group to bring this capability in-house.
“While prices for this technology have come down, this still represents a significant investment for us,” Rice says.
“At the end of the day, it is about ensuring our customers can Expect the Best,” Sanders adds. “This allows us to deliver whatever specialized cutting our client may need on time and on budget.”
About Baker Group
Baker Group is a commercial and industrial specialty contractor based in Ankeny, Iowa. With more than 1,100 employees, Baker Group is the Midwest’s premier full-service specialty contractor providing mechanical, industrial, sheet metal, electrical, building automation, process automation, security systems, fire alarm systems, parking/revenue controls and 24/7/365 service. For more information, call 855.262.4000 or visit www.thebakergroup.com.
Best of Des Moines 2023
Baker Group was recognized by readers of the Des Moines Business Record for best Mechanical Contractor, Electrical Contractor, Security Company and Best Company to Work For in 2023.
For a seventh consecutive year, Baker Group was recognized by the Des Moines Register as one of the Top Workplaces in the state.