Laser Technology 
By Lynn Stanley, Senior Editor
The Salvagnini L5 fiber laser offers three cutting functions—Standard, PowerCut and DynamicCut—allowing JIT Manufacturing to choose the mode best suited to the application.
The Salvagnini L5 fiber laser offers three cutting functions—Standard, PowerCut and DynamicCut—allowing JIT Manufacturing to choose the mode best suited to the application.
Measure of force
Fiber equipment helps manufacturer to push more parts quickly to meet growing customer demand

he human heart is roughly the size of a large fist, weighing 10 to 12 ounces, yet it pumps blood throughout the body to feed organs and tissues with life-sustaining oxygen and nutrients.

For JIT Manufacturing Inc., Salvagnini L5 fiber laser technology is the heart that pushes parts to multiple operations 24/7 to support customer demand and nourish growth.

“We’ve had our eye on growth and looked at different ways we could capture new business,” says Nick Ricard, JIT Manufacturing’s vice president and general manager. “The fiber lasers have really helped to move us closer to those goals. These machines are the heartbeat of this company.”

With close to $1 million in revenue a month, the Woodinville, Washington-based manufacturer has built its business based on its ability to produce precision, high-tolerance sheet metal and machine parts for a diverse group of customers.

Family roots
“My mom, Lisa Tiffany, worked for a plating shop,” recalls Ricard. “Customers were constantly complaining about sheet metal companies. She thought, ‘I could do that,’ and started JIT Manufacturing in 1986 in her garage. I grew up around sheet metal work and loved it. I worked for the company during high school and college. I know what it takes to get parts done.”

Ricard will mark 16 years with the company in June. He took the position of vice president in 2019, crediting his mom with mentoring him for the general manager position.

The Salvagnini fiber lasers are automated with the MD Tower single-sheet delivery system which feeds the machines cold-rolled carbon steel, stainless and aluminum.
Today the ISO 9001-accredited manufacturer occupies nearly 33,000 sq. ft. of space dedicated to processing parts from simple panels to complex assemblies. JIT Manufacturing has developed a close support network with nearby specialty finishing houses to provide customers with paint, plate, silk screen and anodizing options. The manufacturer also holds a certification for AWS D17.2 spot weld, Class C at a strength of 2,000 lbs., and a certification for AWS DI.3 plug-welding.
We had four punch presses but found that one Salvagnini fiber laser could outperform those machines.
Nick Ricard, JIT Manufacturing Inc.
Equipment choices have helped the company boost throughput and quality. “We had a CO2 [laser cutting machine] for quite some time but it was problematic because there were so many moving parts that had to work perfectly for it to operate the way we wanted it to,” Ricard says. “We also had four punch presses but we found that one Salvagnini fiber laser could outperform those machines.”
Clean cutting
JIT Manufacturing installed a Salvagnini L5 3kW fiber laser in 2013 and an L5 4kW fiber laser in 2019. The machines process cold-rolled carbon steel, stainless and aluminum. The machines are automated with Salvagnini’s MD Tower single-sheet delivery system.

The manufacturer purchases 4-ft. by 10-ft. sheets that are automatically fed to the fiber lasers, which cut and push parts downstream to other processing operations. “The fiber lasers are cleaner, simpler and more accountable,” says Ricard. “That’s what we love about them.”

The L5 systems use a single optics head that provides precision cutting across a range of material thicknesses. Salvagnini’s dry cooling technology cools the optics without the use of gas or liquids for real-time control of lens temperature.

Three cutting functions—Standard, PowerCut and DynamicCut—allow the operator to use the mode best suited to the job at hand. The fiber laser holds a positioning accuracy of 0.003 in., a feature that Ricard found attractive.

Lisa Tiffany and son, Nick Ricard.
Lisa Tiffany and son, Nick Ricard.
“Our primary markets are medical, aerospace and electronics, so everything has to be very precise,” says Ricard. “When you watch the fiber lasers run, it’s incredible that they can consistently hold a tolerance of plus or minus 0.003 in. at those speeds.”

JIT Manufacturing runs three shifts—a day crew, night crew and weekend crew—to support production of about 80,000 parts per month. “The fiber lasers pretty much run 24/7,” he says. “They have to.”

Ricard says the speed and quality of the machines, and the equipment builder’s Stream Laser nesting software, have helped his company to grow and take on new work. “Salvagnini deserves a lot of credit as to how well those three traits work together,” he says.

With variable lead times, Ricard adds that JIT Manufacturing has its finger on the pulse of the economy. “We’re seeing an uptick in business but we’re also the first to feel changes in the marketplace.”

Despite the added challenges of a pandemic, JIT is committed to its personnel and its customers and the fiber lasers are a key component. “Our heartbeat has to keep pumping,” he says.

JIT Manufacturing Inc.,
Woodinville, Washington,
Salvagnini America Inc., Hamilton,
Ohio, 513/874-8284,