Lasers Success Stories

Adaptation is the key to success

For the Australian manufacturer, adapting to meet the changing needs of customers and the market is vital to remaining successful. Global financial crises aside, if products and services are not adapted to suit the shifting needs of the marketplace, a business will eventually lose touch with its customers and suffer financially as a result.

EP Draffin

For EP Draffin, an Australian owned and operated manufacturer located in Bayswater Victoria, adaptation has been the cornerstone of the company’s success. Before the company was established, their founder Mr. Eddie Draffin was involved in the manufacture of a vast range of historically significant products, often as a direct result of social or cultural circumstances. These have included the production of components for gun carriers during the Second World War and the manufacture of the first wholly owned Australian car the Holden in 1945. When Draffin commenced manufacturing in 1957, they started out making automatic windscreen wipers for cars, as well as beer taps and faucets. In 1974, Draffin played a central role as one of the main manufacturers of water pumps for the caravan and marine industries following Darwin’s Cyclone Tracy, which left thousands of people homeless.

Generally machine installations are guaranteed to have teething problems, but this machine is faultless. We are very impressed with the quality of the STX, and the integrity and technical expertise of the John Heart team. - Ian Draffin

Today, Draffin is primarily involved in the production of street, parkland and community furniture, a market that the company was keen to enter for its broader business potential. As a metal fabricating shop, Draffin produces various products used in the wider community, such as garden beds, planter boxes, shelters, bins, park benches and tables.

With large council contracts and new product lines, Draffin is busier than ever. As an OEM, almost all of the products are manufactured in-house on a diverse range of machinery including presses, turret punches, robotic welders and CNC bending machines. However, prior to the recent addition of their Mazak laser processing machine, Draffin spent a significant amount of money each year on sub-contracting laser cutting to a nearby job shop.

Based on the volume and type of work sub-contracted, the team at John Hart knew that the latest laser processing solution from Mazak, the STX 510 Champion was the right solution to their problem. The Champion can process up to 12mm mild steel, 4mm aluminium, 4mm stainless steel and 2mm brass, in one setup. This machine is the culmination of three decades of laser technology developments and refinements from Mazak. Designed to operate 24 hours a day, the highly reliable machine is small and compact with an ultra low running cost of around $5.00 to $8.00 per hour.

As a CAD designer, Ian Draffin is responsible for the design and modelling of most of Draffin’s products, including the Deluxe Modular MGB Surround bin pictured. Every component that makes up this product starts its life on the Champion, either proceeding to forming, welding or directly to finishing. Previously, parts for this product could take two to three weeks to arrive, now with the Mazak laser, the parts are cut in one to two days, with the final product lead time being reduced by more than two weeks.

According to Ian, learning to operate the STX Champion took only three days, and since day one he has been self sufficient in every aspect of the machine programming and operations. As such, Ian joked that he now fancied himself and his operators as highly skilled laser technicians. Furthermore, having the support of John Hart’s skilled, Mazak trained support team has given Ian the confidence and freedom to explore greater possibilities on the machine.

With an upbringing on and around the machine shop floor, and a healthy imagination for design, Ian has managed to combine his insight and knowledge in adapting the laser for other uses, such as prototyping parts, profile measurement and cutting of 3D formed shapes. Using the STX Champion’s accuracy and repeatability, Ian has designed and produced a vast array of laminated press-brake tools for special jobs, and also jigs and fixtures for the assembly line.

Instead of quoting anywhere up to two week lead-times on initial prototypes and up to six weeks for refinements returning from contractors, Ian can now produce a prototype on the laser in a single day. This allows Draffin to save time while keeping the dollars in house.

On top of this, thanks to the STX Champion, Draffin has been able to develop several new products for less and enhance products to appear more aesthetically pleasing, more practical and/or more ergonomic to use. Success for Draffin is a combination of imagination, experience and technology.

Ian Draffin could not be happier with the machine and it’s obvious the John Hart and Mazak partnership, coupled with Draffin’s passion for innovation and adaptation will see them continue to strive for success in the years to come. “Generally machine installations are guaranteed to have teething problems, but this machine is faultless. We are very impressed with the quality of the STX, and the integrity and technical expertise of the John Heart team” Ian said.

Key Buying Points

  • The reliability and low running cost of the STX
  • Skilled factory trained service and support team from John Hart
  • Added design flexibility and great prototyping opportunities
  • Cutting performance and accuracy of the STX
  • Adapting the machine for other uses benefits overall production
  • Easy to use Mazak control makes programming and operation simple