A company that embodied local know-how in fastener manufacturing is reviving its screw-making expertise and adding jobs. A boom in aerospace manufacturing is gobbling up the high-precision, special-alloy bolts that hold airplanes together, and Acument Global Technologies wants a cut of that market.
A company that embodied local know-how in fastener manufacturing is reviving its screw-making expertise and adding jobs.
A boom in aerospace manufacturing is gobbling up the high-precision, special-alloy bolts that hold airplanes together, and Acument Global Technologies wants a cut of that market.
Acument, formerly Textron Fastening Systems, plans to add 50 employees immediately to its newly formed Camcar Aerospace division to build screws, bolts and nuts for the aerospace industry. The company hopes to add more jobs and grow sales to $70 million within three years.
But these aren’t the threaded fasteners that once made Rockford the screw capital of the world. Instead of carbon steel, these parts are made from titanium, iconel, waspaloy and other high-performance alloys. To sell bolts to the major airplane makers, Camcar Aerospace had to go through the same rigorous certification process as engine makers.
Acument chose Rockford for production because of proximity to top-quality job shops and work-force expertise.
“If you’re going to do high-precision, exacting tolerance in an industry that takes zero defects, what better place to do that than the capital of cold heading?” said Martin Schnurr, Acument vice president and general manager of its North American operations.
The company should have plenty of workers to choose from. The Textron Fastening Systems division once employed as many as 1,800 people at six plants and offices in the Rock River Valley. Acument now employs about 300.
“Within months, these will be teeming factories dedicated to products for the aerospace industry,” Schnurr said.
There’s plenty of room for Camcar Aerospace. The U.S. consumes $3.9 billion in aerospace fasteners, but domestic manufacturers can only make about $3.3 billion worth of those parts, Schnurr said.
Aerospace manufacturing is expected to grow to $140 billion by 2015, Schnurr said, putting Acument’s new division in a position to reap that growth.
Acument is putting “several million dollars” worth of threading machines, grinders, cold headers and shavers into a combined 49,000 square feet in two 18th Avenue plants, said Tim McGuire, executive director of Camcar Aerospace. The site was once the headquarters of Textron division Camcar.
In fact, Acument’s bloodline traces to two of Rockford’s largest screw-makers, Camcar Screw and Manufacturing Corp. and Elco Tool Corp. The new venture into aerospace echoes Camcar’s first product: A terminal used to control the rudder on the 32-ton B-24 Liberator, a World War II bomber that was the workhorse of Allied bombing campaigns in Europe.
Facts and figures
Business: Acument Global Technologies Inc.
Headquarters: Troy, Mich.
Sales: $1.7 billion
Locations: 17 countries
Employees: More than 8,500, two-thirds outside the U.S.; more than 300 locally
Owner: Platinum Equity
Products: 270,000 types of fasteners, steel wire
Established: 2006 (formerly Textron Fastening Systems)
Source: Acument Global
1918: Elco Tool Corp. founded to make cutting tools but later moves into making screws and other fasteners.
1943: Three Elco engineers leave the company to start Camcar Screw and Manufacturing Corp. and launch a new way to cold-form parts. The new company gains prominence building a special linkage for the B-24 bomber.
1955: Camcar purchased by Textron Inc., a textiles company diversifying into multiple industries.
1995: Textron buys Elco Tool and combines it with four other fastener companies, including Camcar, to create Textron Fastening Systems.
2006: Textron sells Textron Fastening Systems to Platinum Equity, a California private-equity firm, for $630 million. Company renamed Acument Global Technologies.
Manzullo shifts $750K for titanium bolt research
Research into the best ways to make titanium parts here will get a boost with a check from the federal government.
U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo steered $750,000 in earmarks to a research-and-development venture run by Camcar Aerospace and Northern Illinois University.
The funding is part of efforts to make the region a nexus of titanium manufacturing technology. With airplane builders moving toward lighter, more fuel-efficient jets, demand for hard and light titanium parts will grow. “Titanium is the metal of the future,” the Egan Republican said.
Cold-forming machine maker LMC in DeKalb originally was slated to get the money, but Camcar is much closer to titanium production, so Manzullo shifted the earmark.
Camcar Aerospace is already experimenting with titanium technology. It started cold-forming titanium bolts, a feat deemed impossible by its suppliers, Executive Director Tim McGuire said. Usually, titanium is too hard to withstand the pressure of cold forming, so the alloy is superheated for a few seconds as the punch smashes it into shape.
While the cold-forming process isn’t ready for production yet, it will drastically reduce the amount of time it takes to build the expensive parts, McGuire said.
Nate Legue may be reached at (815) 987-1346 or firstname.lastname@example.org.