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Lou Kren Lou Kren
Senior Editor

New Sheet and Tube Fabricator Has Lofty Goals

November 1, 2022

Pennsylvania manufacturer Fossil Industries, with new laser tube and sheet cutting machinery, seeks success in adding to domestic manufacturing capability.

Having retired after 30 years of engineering and management in the oil and gas industry, and having run his own manufacturing business, Jim Rose ultimately “grew tired of laying on the couch,” he says. Jump off the couch Rose has, purchasing, in 2020, land in Hunker, PA, about 25 miles southwest of Pittsburgh. Today, Rose and his wife, also an engineer, run Fossil Industries in 36,000 sq. ft. of new manufacturing space, with plans to roughly double the space at an adjacent site. 

BLM-LT7-Fossil-Industries“We do contract fabricating work to pay the bills,” Rose says, “but we plan primarily to be an OEM, manufacturing our own products either direct to market or through wholesale channels.”

These products, under development with many patented by Rose, include residential fireplace inserts, residential and commercial pellet smokers, spray equipment, towing trailers and more for recreational pursuits such as hunting, fishing and boating.

Whether as a metal-fabricating job shop or OEM, Fossil Industries boasts the knowhow and equipment to get these jobs done, including 3D CAD design, sheet and tube cutting and bending, and assembly. Sheet and tube material processed includes carbon and stainless steel, with future work calling for titanium, copper and brass. Rose and 12 employees craft these materials into finished parts and products with an eye toward helping the United States reclaim its manufacturing-powerhouse title, he says.

Tube Laser Cutting the Workhorse Process

1-BLM-LT7-tube-cutting-Fossil-IndustriesFront and center at Fossil Industries: a BLM Group Lasertube LT7 4-kW fiber laser cutting machine for tubes and profiles. The machine can process a variety of materials including aluminum alloys and stainless and carbon steels, and shapes including rounds in diameters to 7 in., square and rectangular profiles, angle iron, channel, and flat bar to 15.5 lb./ft., according to BLM Group officials. Other stated benefits include cutting capability even on thick-walled steel for weld preparations, and interlocking joints with a ±45-deg. tilt.

When processing tube, the machine features an internal suction probe that automatically catches debris and vacuums out particles. And, its Active Scan feature automatically calculates any compensations needed to ensure tolerances, regardless of misshapes or insufficient rigidity.

“It’s a good machine—repeatable and reliable,” says Rose, while pointing out that it’s been the workhorse at Fossil Industries thus far. “From a contract-manufacturing perspective, there’s demand for tubes cut to specific shapes. Imagine that you’re building scaffolding, race-car frames or off-road products—that means a lot of work in providing cut tubes. Jeeps, for example, are highly accessorized items, with roof racks, bumpers and more. A tube laser can produce all of that. The LT7 allows us to cut very precise parts from tubes that then go on to be formed or bent, which means even more work.”

Automation makes the laser tube cutting machine even more productive.

“We have a bundle loader from BLM Group that feeds raw material at the rear of the machine,” Rose explains. “We have the largest configuration of this machine that handles tube to 7 in. dia. and tube as long as 27 ft. on the inlet and as the finished part. We have demand for these sizes in contract manufacturing and for our own products. It will produce tubes for our assemblies easily and at the pace needed.”

Well-Equipped for Sheet Fabrication

Also on the Fossil Industries shop floor, an Elect 80 electric tube bender configured for right- or left-hand bending of round or special-section tubes to diameters of 80 mm. Capable of multi-radius and different-interlock counterbends, the machine can be fitted with as many as eight tools at once, and allows for choosing the location of a variable-radius tool.

For sheet work, Fossil Industries employs two Bystronic machines, a Bystar Fiber 4020 flat-sheet fiber laser cutter with full automated sheet handling, and an Xpert Pro 320 press brake. 

3-Bystronic-4020-laser-cutting-Fossil-Industries“We typically use the tube laser cutting machine to supply playground-equipment customers,” Rose explains. “For sheet material, we can cut parts with the flat laser and then form with the press brake, so those machines might work together on some of our jobs. We also brought in a laser welding machine. Once we set that up, it will help in the work process.”
Job runs may surpass 1000 parts on high-volume work at Fossil Industries, but Rose hints at coming orders that will require lights-out automation on plant-floor machinery.

Inhouse Nitrogen Supply

Unique among many manufacturers, Fossil Industries generates its own process gas for laser cutting.

“I’m not sure what the economics look like for a shop continuously running one or two shifts, but our activity level goes up and down,” Rose says. “When a shop uses a lot of nitrogen for laser cutting, but perhaps doesn’t perform laser cutting for a month at a time, the gas evaporates. We have to account for our burn rate, and I’ve never been satisfied with relying on the gas suppliers. Given all of that, we generate our own gases. We can turn it off and walk away, and come back tomorrow and turn it back on. Or, we’ll turn it back on in a month when we have the work for it. The system we have, well-engineered, works as designed.”

People, and Manufacturing, First

While Rose certainly hopes to see Fossil Industries flourish with supply of its own patented products, he sets a loftier goal: “I want our people to learn everything there is to learn about metal fabrication, learn about being entrepreneurs, and then build shops right across the street and start making their own stuff.”

Rose sees this goal as a way to give back after a lifetime of serving in manufacturing.

“Manufacturing is a good career, and I don’t know why we in America have made the trades a second-class profession,” he says. “It’s what made this country great. If we weren’t such awesome manufacturers, we would have lost World War II.  In addition to the awesome fighting men and women, we manufactured our way out of the war. 

“We’re community-focused and run fundraisers here at the Fossil Industries facility,” Rose continues. “And, even though we are only a few months old, we plan to continue that outreach, trying to bring some talented people and interest them in the trades and in manufacturing. We are focused on trying to steer people toward a good career in the trades. We train our people, and look for people with good character. Training is a small investment when you start with a good-character person.”

In sum, stresses Rose, “Fossil Industries is about creating jobs and creating an environment where we’re have fun and are challenged on a daily basis while serving the community.” MF

Industry-Related Terms: Alloys, Bending, Brass, CAD, Center, Form, Laser Welding, LASER, Run, Stainless Steel
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms


See also: Bystronic Inc., BLM Group USA

Technologies: Bending


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