Barlow will hold open house to show off laser steel cutter

The laser cutter, which can cut parts quickly, is reportedly the first model of a Bystronic ByAutonom sold in North America.

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Stoney Creek, Ontario, Canada - Barlow Manufacturing is holding an open house Thursday in its plant to show off a state-of-the-art laser steel cutter, the first model of a Bystronic ByAutonom sold in North America. Jamie Barlow, company owner of the 81-year-old company formerly known as Barlow Packaging, has sunk about $1 million into what he hopes will be a new direction for the company started by his grandfather.

Jamie Barlow told a writer from a Hamilton newspaper that he diversified Barlow Manufacturing to be a job shop. The new laser machine that cuts parts cheaply and quickly can bring new customers to offset the many that went off-shore. "I want to build up the local customers again," said Barlow.

According to the Hamilton Spectator news story, the laser cutter feeds parts to the other side of Barlow's operation, which designs and builds conveyor systems for bottling plants across North America. Product elevators and lowerators from Barlow provide an efficient and cost-effective solution for conveying products vertically between different levels.

"I used to have to rely on sheet-metal companies to do that sheet-metal work, but I had no control over quality, cost, or delivery," Barlow said. He bought his first laser cutter in 2008 at an auction for $30,000. It was a steep learning curve, but Barlow says he eventually mastered it. Then he bought a more powerful cutter in 2010. The ByAutonom was installed in August along with a Bystronic ByTrans Extended sheet loader/parts unloader.

When the conveyor business ebbs and flows, the parts fabrication side can fill in the gaps. And small jobs can turn into big ones. "We had a company call at 4 p.m. on a Friday saying they needed sprockets cut right away. We said, sure, we had a guy stay late to cut them. We now have a $75,000 order with that company," said Jim Mendell, who heads up the conveyor operation.

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