Click here to watch Tutorial Videos >

Expanding Small Part Manufacturing Capabilities

When Journeyman Machine needed a fast and accurate 40-taper machine for its smaller parts, the owners turned to Kent USA.

Journeyman Machine has operated in Fond du Lac, WI, since its founding in 1976.

(l-r) Andy Hass, Shop Foreman, and Jason Davies, President, Journeyman Machine and Supply Co.

Every shop faces the same situation at one point or another. The machine tools are either too large and slow to be competitive on smaller parts, or too small and underpowered for the larger ones. This was the case recently at Journeyman Machine and Supply Co. Inc., when shop supervisor Andy Hass and the company's owners agreed that it was time to think small.

"In the past, we have always traded in our old machines and replaced them with new ones of comparable size and capabilities," said Hass. "This time, though, we felt it made more sense to invest in a smaller, faster machine for the parts we have been struggling to produce on our 50-taper machining centers. Thanks to the higher spindle speeds and coolant through the spindle, it was definitely the right move for us."

The Heart of Fox Valley

Journeyman Machine sits in an L-shaped building roughly two miles southwest of Lake Winnebago in Fond du Lac, WI. It has been there a long time. In 1976, founder Mike Lambeseder decided to open a small machine shop to serve the area's railroad industry. He and a few others there made replacement parts, repaired equipment for the local farmers, and gradually took on an increasing amount of production work until the day Lambeseder retired and sold the business to its current owner and President, Jason Davies.

Together with co-owner Ken Wagner, the two have continued to build their business to its current 19-employee, 10,500 sq. ft. capacity, earning a reputation along the way as a down-to-earth, customer-oriented job shop offering outstanding quality and competitive prices. The company services an entirely new customer base today, producing an eclectic mix of prototype and low-volume parts, fixtures and other tooling for the marine industry, machine tool builders, food and beverage customers and custom machinery manufacturers.

Continuously Evolving

Hass has been there through most of it. He came on board in 1986, shortly after Journeyman Machine bought its first CNC machine tool, and noted that the company has evolved greatly since then. He has watched as machinery riggers hauled the shop's old Gisholt turret lathes and Kearney & Trecker mills out the shipping door, replacing them with large to medium-sized CNC lathes and vertical machining centers (VMCs). And even though the shop already had a 40-taper, 24 x 16-inch VMC, it was primarily used for secondary operations and light milling work. A faster, more capable 40-taper machine was needed.

"We reached out to Jeff Luth at Luth Machinery Sales up in Chilton," Hass said. "He has been in the machine tool business since the 1970s and knows all the people, all the major brands; in fact, I am pretty sure we bought practically every piece of CNC equipment in this place through him, so we trust his judgement. When he recommended we visit a nearby shop to look at a Kent USA, we of course said, `Let's go.'"

It was a successful visit. Journeyman Machine took delivery of its Kent USA KVR-4020A VMC in November of 2018. The 40 x 20-inch machine has a 15-HP, 10,000 RPM chilled spindle, 24-tool double-arm ATC, FANUC 0i-MF control, and according to Hass, came "out of the box" with some very nice features. "We have the belt-style chip conveyor, a 1,000 PSI ChipBlaster, tool length measurement, a fully-loaded control with 400-program storage and 200-block lookahead-we were really happy with the package he put together, as well as the price."

Attention to Detail

The new technology has been a game-changer in a number of ways, Hass said. Using the high-pressure coolant-through together with solid carbide drills, he said the KVR makes holes "about as fast as a punch press." He has been milling a lot of steel and stainless steel since he got the new machine, but is looking forward to running a repeat 80-piece aluminum job, and anticipates the 10,000-RPM spindle, faster rapids and 1.3 second tool changes will reduce the cycle time by at least 30%. "We bought the machine specifically for this kind of higher-volume work, but I can tell you we have done some pretty heavy milling since we got it, on a wide range of materials, and it does a real good job," he said.

Metal removal capability and machine accuracy are great, but Hass said he has been equally impressed with the little things that Kent USA included with the machine. The KVR comes standard with coolant washdown and air hose connections up front for operator convenience. The communication cables were neatly routed, as was the electrical connection, making the machine hookup "about a half-hour job." The 4th-axis prewire, automatic oil skimmer, dual LED work lights and other machine features made the KVR installation easy, and its use since then both pleasurable and predictable, according to Hass.

"We were quite impressed with all the little bells and whistles they included-even the leveling pads and screws were designed for ease of use," Hass said. "We would not hesitate to buy another one, and actually just received a proposal for a KVR-1580 to replace one of our old 50-taper machines. It is very competitive in this part of Wisconsin. A lot of steel gets delivered every day to the various industrial parks around here, which is why it is so important to keep updating our equipment."

For more information contact:

Journeyman Machine & Supply Co., Inc.


Kent Industrial USA

1231 Edinger Avenue

Tustin, CA 92780


< back