Electricity is expensive on Vancouver Island. This was a large part of the reason why Pacific Energy Fireplace Products Ltd. had long steered clear of CO2 lasers, opting instead to stick with its tried and true CNC turret punches.
Yet fabricators have been successful with lasers for over three decades. Compared to punching, laser cutters are faster to set up, and require far less maintenance. And in Pacific Energy’s case, cutting complex part profiles was becoming increasingly difficult with its aging equipment, a task that’s far simpler on a laser than
on a turret punch.
General manager Shannon Sears knew all this, and says the company took a hard look at CO2 several years ago. “We found the operating costs represented a significant increase over our existing equipment. And we knew the utility companies were projecting a 30 per cent rate increase over the next few years, so lasers were eliminated from consideration at that point.”
Pacific Energy is an independently owned producer of fireplace heating solutions. It offers a wide variety of wood and gas burning stoves, fireplaces and inserts, and prides itself on manufacturing clean, efficient energy products. Located in Duncan, BC, the company employs 200 people, and has customers in Australia, Russia, and all points in between. Says Sears, “we’re a metal fabricator at heart. Aside from a few purchased components, we manufacture everything in house—that means we cut, bend, form, paint and finish roughly 20 different grades of steel into finished products.”
With 35 years in the hearth appliance business, Pacific Energy has gone through several generations of fabricating technology. Like many companies, it started with hand-operated shears, ironworkers and forming presses, then evolved to CNC turret punches and eventually to automated material handling. Through it all, laser technology was kept at arm’s length.
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