Metri-Tech manufactures precision-machined, high-volume critical components for the aerospace industry in materials including Inconel, titanium, Nitronic, Invar, Kovar, Ferrium, polyurethane, Teflon, polyether ether keytone (PEEK), and Ultem.
“Customers use us as a solution: they have problems and we fix them,” says Hans Gratzer Jr., chief operating and chief technical officer at Metri-Tech and son of company founders Hans Gratzer Sr. and Katharina Gratzer. “We’re experts in most manufacturing processes, and our customers come to us for the precision and quality of the parts we produce.”
Metri-Tech began using Esprit in 1988, only a few years after the CAM software’s launch.
“My dad bought the software, and he was very happy with it because we were mainly in the fitting business at that time. He liked that it could program families of parts very well – because they’re similar geometries, they can be adjusted very easily with Esprit. It was a huge time savings,” Gratzer says.
The company started out making fittings, which provided valuable insights into how they fit into larger assemblies. This information enabled Metri-Tech to gradually progress into producing more complex parts.
“It was a very interesting and methodical transition,” Gratzer says. “Doing fittings evolved into us going in the opposite direction: manufacturing the parts the fittings fit into, which were housings and manifolds. Then when you get into the more complex and assembly side of aerospace, you get into the critical finishes and close tolerances of the internal workings of manifolds and housings such as spool-and-sleeve assemblies and shaft work.”
Esprit’s full-color simulations “allowed us to give more visibility to our programming and reduce mistakes in our setup the first time around,” Gratzer says. “Most of our machinists do the setup and the machine operation, they know what they’re doing. Now they do not have to worry during the setup process and first piece run; they know the program will be right due to the precise nature of Esprit simulation, setup sheets, and posts.”
Metri-Tech’s machines provide programmers with hundreds of pallets and thousands of tool options. The company operates 42 machines with several 3-axis Mori Seiki lathes and Nakamura- Tome lathes with up to 13 axes, allowing machinists to take creative approaches to small parts. Metri-Tech also runs 3- and 4-axis vertical mills and several Matsuura full 5-axis vertical trunnion machines with up to 42 pallets and 520 tools. Many of the shop’s palletized machines are robotic, and the company is working to bring in mobile robots to transfer parts between machines and virtual augmentation to help programmers easily view their custom manufacturing software and scheduler on the shop floor.
The company uses Esprit for full 5-axis, contour composite milling, swarf milling, and multi-axis multi-spindle turning. It also provides polishing and ultra-critical finishing services, as well as a quality control facility in-house.
“We take several steps in assuring a quality part gets to the customer,” Gratzer says. “We have very dedicated employees, and everybody’s looking out for the quality of the product. The main reason why customers come to us is 100% quality, all the time. If they need a job done fast and they need it done right the first time, they come to us.”
More than 30 years after it was installed at Metri-Tech, Esprit continues to keep the company in peak manufacturing form, due in large part to the software’s ease of use and prompt support.
“Esprit is easier, faster, stronger, and more accurate than other CAM programs we have tested or demo’ed throughout the years,” Gratzer says.
When Gratzer came to work for Metri-Tech in 1998, he brought his vision for technology, automation, and reinvestment – a plan that has proven successful and resulted in considerable growth for the company. Forecasts indicate that it may double its business soon. “I give credit to our passion for this industry, striving for automation and all the products we use, including Esprit,” Gratzer says. “I feel our next 40 years are going to be stronger than the last 40.”