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Harris Welding & Machine Co. Invests $1.25 Million in New Fiber Laser – Ashland Source

ASHLAND –  Harris Welding & Machine Company of Ashland recently invested $1.25 million into new equipment with intentions to increase production.

The manufacturer’s latest addition to its machine line-up, a new Trumpf 8k fiber laser paired with an automated loading and unloading, is up and running in the front bay of the facility at 2219 Cottage St.

“I believe that you need to keep investing in new technologies that fit what you do as a company. This laser will allow Harris Welding to stay competitive and give the next generation the tools necessary to keep our continuingly growth for the future,” President John Kochenderfer said. 

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The new laser has an oversized cutting table capable of handling up to 80 x 160 foot sheets, making it the largest in the area. Combined with the automation components, the machinery makes quick work of materials up to one inch thick.

According to a press release, company leadership made the decision to invest in laser cutting last year in order to bring a new level of precision to their cutting capabilities.

“What this laser allows us to do is to cut parts very fast with great accuracy. We can process orders that would take days with our current technologies in hours,” Kochenderfer said. “The cut quality is so clean that it eliminates most of the secondary clean up. Parts go from the laser right to the press brake or paint department.”

For the last few months, the laser has been busy cutting and processing parts with impressively clean edges and is already proving its potential as a game-changer for the fabrication shop’s operations. 

“The importance of our new machine to the business has many different benefits. It allows us to produce parts and products that were either too costly and slow or a design that was not able to be produced,” production engineer Michael Kochenderfer said. “Our new laser will help improve our quality control and assurance system with the added benefits of being able to etch part numbers, bend lines/directions, and weldment locations allows us to quickly identify components and reduce potential error in downstream processes.”

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Harris Welding & Machine Co. has grown immensely since its inception in 1964. Initially a welding repair shop in a small building in downtown Ashland, the business has evolved into a one-stop custom metal fabrication shop with in-house painting and powder-coating.

While the laser marks a new age of technology at Harris Welding & Machine, its installation coincides with a new — third — generation at the company as well.

John Kochenderfer’s son, Michael Kochenderfer, stepped on as production engineer after graduating from the University of Cincinnati in 2020 and has played a pinnacle role in dialing in the new laser.

“I always have had a strong interest in the shop when I was little. I remember coming in on Saturday’s with my dad, sweeping the floors and picking up scrap from behind the shear when I was around five years old,” Michael Kochenderfer said. “Seeing the sparks being flown by the grinders and welders to these fabricated finished products being built from raw material was fascinating to me. Looking at how much the business has changed over the years has inspired me to continue the legacy.”

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