Keep those Humvees rolling

East Peoria, IL — Todd Berry, president of Precision Laser Manufacturing (PLM), and his 12 employees are proud of their contribution in support of the U.S. troops in Iraq. In March his laser cutting and welding company, founded in 1990, received a subcontract from Federal Prison Industries, located at the Federal Correctional Institution in Pekin, IL, to cut steel into bulletproof door, fender, and undercarriage panels for Humvee vehicles used by the U.S. military. If you read the newspaper or have seen various television news programs on the Iraq situation you have learned that many of the Humvees in action need to be "up-armored."

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Clare Jellick, writing in the April 28 issue of the Peoria Journal Star (www.pjstar.com/news), reported "The military has recently pushed for upgrades to the Humvees because they don't protect soldiers against insurgent attacks like roadside bombs and rocket propelled grenades."

Humvees typically were not designed for the mission they now face in Iraq. And so PLM was contracted to provide laser cutting of a variety of armor parts that the prison would assemble into a kit for vehicle retrofit.

Several trucks loaded with 3/8-inch armor plate showed up at PLM and the company commenced a five-day rush program to get the material cut. According to the Journal Star article, laser cutting took five days of around-the-clock effort. A typical panel cutout would be in the shape of a door configuration for example.

Angel Tierro, PLM production administrator, is quoted as saying, "We dropped everything to get the job done as soon as possible." Proof of this is that the Federal Prison Industries shipped 650 cut parts to Baghdad, where they are likely already installed in action vehicles.

According to television network newscasts thousands of Humvees are in Iraq and as of this writing only a small fraction are armor plated, because, as we understand it, these vehicles were not meant to be in front-line action. It's ironic, isn't it, that ILS chose to feature a sports version of the Humvee on last month's cover.

Todd Berry said "Everyone at PLM is extremely excited and proud of the fact that they were able to provide direct support to our troops involved in the Iraq conflict. Also, knowing the work that our small company completed may help save American lives is a very humbling experience for our employees."

PLM equipment includes three Balliu laser-cutting systems, two LC 1500 pallet shuttle units, and a Minotaur with rotary axis capability, all powered by PRC CO2 lasers ranging in power from 2 to 3.5 kW output power. The rotary axis allows PLM to add tube cutting to its flat sheet and plate cutting capability.

If you have rapid turnaround cutting requirements you might want to check PLM out, after all, the Humvee job proves they can, and do, respond quickly. Contact the company at plu@ocslink.com or www.precisionlasermanufacturing.com.—DAB

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