A History of Innovation
The year was 1959 when Dick Nordlof, an enterprising partner of Mechanical Tool and Engineering Company, located in Rockford, Illinois, pioneered and innovated the first self-contained air feed designed to drastically improve the metal stamping process. It was a device destined to forever change press room operations.
Mechanical Tool and Engineering was in the business of making tools and dies and producing precision stampings from some of the first, very complex and progressive dies in the country. It soon became evident to Nordlof, an MIT graduate engineer, that the dies couldn’t be used to their fullest capability, because there were no precision feeding devices on the market. And thus, with the introduction of a new air feed device, and Dick’s brother Ron Nordlof in charge of manufacturing, Rapid-Air was born.
Success of Rapid-Air Feed Encourages Launch of Product Line
The Rapid-Air Feed, a timeless design as appropriate today as it was in 1959, solved the problem of feeding coil metal stock into the press so well, and increased production so substantially, that the engineers at Rapid-Air were encouraged to put their ingenuity and experience to work to develop an entire line of superior coil feeding and handling equipment. These innovations were all designed, battle tested and proven for Rapid-Air’s own stamping applications before they were allowed to be brought to market. Soon, Rapid-Air was regarded as the no-nonsense source of equipment designed by stamping professionals for stamping professionals.
Expanded Manufacturing, Engineering, Sales & Marketing
Success for the company came rapidly, and consequently the need to expand. In 1971, the company opened their doors to a newly prepared manufacturing facility with strategic capital acquisitions in place for ideal machining capabilities, manufacturing efficiencies and process flow.
In addition to its manufacturing operations, in 1981, Rapid-Air opened a modern, centralized sales, marketing and engineering facility. And it continued to establish the necessary sales network to distribute a broad range of exciting, new and existing product lines. Rapid-Air & MTE Hydraulics headquarters & manufacturing, Rockford, IL.
Continuously Setting New Standards
Rapid-Air has a long history of product development in the Press Room Equipment field. Since we are so involved in day to day operations, it is sometimes helpful to reflect on some of our firsts so that we can be prepared to bring these items to the attention of Rapid-Air customers and distributors. Listed below are just some of our significant innovations, many of which are patented.
- Self-contained air feed. (Rapid-Air Feed – Patent)
- Regenerative Air Feed Circuit to reduce air consumption. (Patent)
- Multi-stroke feeds.
- Self-contained air-operated cut-to-length machine.
- Self-contained air-operated cutter assembly.
- Self-contained hydraulic reel. (Patent)
- Loop-arm modulated speed control for hydraulic and electric reels. (Patent)
- Loop-arm modulated speed control for straighteners. (Patent)
- Ultrasonic loop control.
- Touch system loop control.
- Self-contained, fully adjustable oscillating rewind reel.
- Modular reel assemblies.
- Flip-open counter-balanced safety top straightener.
- Adjustable platen type straightener. (Patent)
- Self-regulating, single signal servo feed. (Patent)
- Air-operated mini-press integrated with either an air feed or servo feed and controls.
- Self-contained servo plus straightener combination.
- Hydraulic expansion of reel centering arms.
- Independent dual strip servo feed. (Patent)
- Infrared light loop control. (Patent)
- Control arm damping mechanism.
- 4-gear cluster for driving upper pinch rollers.
- Hydraulic coil lift.
- Low Loop space saver. (Patent)
- KBX straightener with pilot release. (Patent)
Today, Rapid-Air products are sold the world over, enabling stamping operations everywhere to produce more, higher quality goods.