Laser Technology
Tuesday | 15 January, 2019 | 11:30 am

Trystar eying new Trumpf equipment takes gradual steps to get ready for it

Written by By Lynn Stanley

January 2019 - In his play “King Henry IV,” William Shakespeare penned the phrase, “Discretion is the better part of valor.” That idea remains relevant today. At Trystar, CEO Rick Dahl and Brian Amacher, director of purchasing and sourcing, might agree. The two had their eye on a Trumpf Inc. TruLaser Weld 5000 but chose caution over the temptation to make a rash financial decision.

Amacher explains. “Growth put us in the market for new capital equipment. We needed to reduce cycle time, lower costs and boost throughput. I told Rick that I would love to buy the TruLaser.”

According to Dahl, “Brian said that if we buy this welder, it will make us a better company because we will have to improve our engineering approach and our manufacturing processes. Then he told me we’re not ready to laser weld.”

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Setting the stage

“It was a tough stance to take,” says Amacher, “because of the sheer volume of work we were juggling.” Over the next couple of years, Trystar leadership paid attention upstream of the welding operation and instead bought a Trumpf TruPunch 5000 punch press. A Trumpf TruBend bending machine followed. In January 2016, Trystar installed the TruLaser Weld 5000.

“Purchasing all three machines from Trumpf was serendipitous,” notes Amacher. “We found that the interaction between the punch, bender and laser welder was seamless.”

The Faribault, Minnesota-based Trystar engineers and builds stock and custom power distribution equipment, cable and generator docking stations for customers ranging from welding equipment and utilities to entertainment and oil and gas. Trystar’s generator docking stations are a staple for hospitals, schools, offices, restaurants and hotels. In September 2018, the company sent portable power equipment to the Carolinas ahead of Hurricane Florence and continued to provide communities with support during the aftermath of the storm.

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“Our customers constantly push us to be faster,” says Dahl. “Turnaround time and speed to market are critical. They expect us to be able to customize on the fly and be creative. We’ve built our business on this framework and it has become our strength.”

Dahl started the company in 1992 after identifying an industry space he surmised had potential. “We were in the cable business,” he said. “We looked at what hooks on to portable power cables and that has become one of our largest product lines.”

“We initially selected the TruLaser because consumables costs were minimal compared to methods like robotic MIG welding,” Dahl adds. “You use a lot of consumables, a lot of wire with that approach. With the TruLaser, we could fusion weld without consumables. We got a repeatable weld and rapid cycle times.”

Reaping rewards

Trystar targeted products 42 in. or smaller for processing on the TruLaser. “Fifty percent of our production goes through the laser welder,” Amacher says. The other half of Trystar’s products are above 42 in.

“Before we purchased the TruLaser, we were producing one unit an hour with conventional welding methods,” Dahl notes. “Now we run 250 units through the laser welder in an eight-hour shift. We have never replaced an employee with this type of equipment. We train them and equip them with valuable skills. Our lead programmer in the welding department was a welder when he first came on board. Now he is programming this machine and his salary has increased 50 percent since he started with us. That’s what we like to see.”

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Father and son Chris Dahl, president, left, and Rick Dahl, CEO, run Trystar.

In addition to increasing throughput, Trystar has seen a reduction in downstream processes like grinding and finishing due to the TruLaser’s ability to produce a pure weld. “We eliminated 10 full-time grinders and put them to work in other areas,” says Dahl. “I am constantly reading that manufacturing in the U.S. is declining. But companies like ours are able to bring a lot of added value to the marketplace. When you don’t have consumables costs and you can take the labor aspect out of a product, you are able to throw parts out so fast that the cost is small. Labor costs have been the primary argument for taking work overseas. When you eliminate that factor and you can make small customizations on the fly, there is no reason in the world for people to shop elsewhere.”


The TruLaser added up to 30 more margin points to many of the key parts it processes. “The cost of welding used to be so expensive for us,” adds Dahl. “The TruLaser turned a marginally profitable part into a very profitable item for us.”

Masoud Harooni, laser welding product manager for Trumpf, says the TruLaser is a turnkey solution for automated laser welding. “A modular clamping system allows the operator to use a single fixture to hold parts of different shapes and sizes in place. Magnetic coupling provides protection in the event of a collision while a robot ensures reliable processing.”

The TruLaser offers cycle times that are much lower than conventional methods, says Harooni. “Loading from the outside while the process is running also saves cycle time. The different configurations that are available make this machine good for batch and mass production.”

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Trystar increased throughput from eight to 250 products per day by processing these spider panel assemblies with the TruLaser Weld 5000.

A rotary table allows operators to load material while welding parts. Trystar actually redesigned some of its products to take full advantage of the TruLaser’s capabilities.

The machine builder has also made improvements to the system for Trystar, from software to an upgrade for the laser welder’s robot head. “We updated the welding optic of their CNC programmable shielding gas nozzle,” says Trumpf Sales Engineer Brett Thompson. “This simplified the movements of the robot and further increased productivity.”

“We want to go back upstream and update the punch press with a laser head and add a robot to the TruBend,” notes Amacher. “Our industry is continuing to grow. One of our key customers has been growing 20 percent annually. We’ve found that if we can keep up, the business comes to us.”

Trystar has a reputation for high-quality products. The time the company took to evaluate its processes and lay the groundwork for its careful equipment purchases has attracted additional business. “We’re recognized as a leader in our field,” says Dahl. “But we had to take [initial steps] before we could use that laser welder. Trumpf helped us accomplish that [leadership]. They didn’t want to just sell us a machine.” FFJ



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