Felss Rotaform to expand in New Berlin

Felss Rotaform LLC
5160 S. Emmer Drive, New Berlin
Industry: Cold forming and tube processing
Employees: 50
www.felss.com

New Berlin-based Felss Rotaform LLC is preparing for its third expansion in 10 years.  

The newest expansion, planned to break ground this summer, will add 15,000 square feet of space to its 50,000-square-foot-building.

The additional space is needed to accommodate the company’s growth, according to chief executive officer David Gazzo, who said Felss has grown an average of 18 percent each year for the past 10 years. Furthermore, he expects Felss Rotaform to grow at an annual rate of 20 percent for the next three years.

The growth is driven by additional contracts, the company’s expertise in its unique processes, and demand for lightweight components, Gazzo said.

Along with the planned expansion, Felss Rotaform anticipates hiring 20 to 25 more employees over the next three years. It currently has approximately 50 employees, up from 10 in 2005.  

Established in 1999, Felss Rotaform is a manufacturer of cold formed and processed tubular components for the automotive industry. The tubular components include steering and drive shafts, side shafts, and front and rear axles for motorcycles.

Although it uses machining, milling, punching and other tube processing to produce finished components, Felss Rotaform specializes in the cold forming processes of rotary swaging and axial forming. These processes achieve desired shapes by applying forces radially to cylindrical raw materials.

“Felss Rotaform’s cold forming and tube processing are not only smart for production, but they’re good for the environment,” Gazzo said.

Manufacturing engineer Andrew Rush with Felss Rotaform’s new $1.5 million rotary swaging machine.

First, Felss Rotaform uses a tube instead of a solid piece of metal because it is lighter and saves material. Then, rather than heating the tube as is the traditional forming method, the tube is cold formed into shape and lengthens while being strengthened.

Gazzo said the company’s patented improvements on the rotary swaging and axial forming processes result in components with closer tolerances and higher fatigue strength; a reduction in material waste; and lower production costs.

“Felss Rotaform has a reputation for eliminating unnecessary and costly steps, which results in the most cost-effective, lightweight components using as little material as possible,” Gazzo said.

Felss Rotaform, which ships its products across the United States, Mexico, Brazil and China, runs on three shifts. It manufactures millions of parts a year, while keeping a low inventory using just-in-time techniques.

The company manufactures its own key tools and dies in-house, and it also uses customized machinery made by its Germany-based sister company, Felss Systems.

Felss Systems and Felss Rotaform are both part of Felss, a global equipment and component manufacturer headquartered in Germany.

In addition to its high-tech machinery, Felss Rotaform uses robotic automation in nearly every aspect of its work.

Gazzo said the company’s nine or 10 robots, which Felss Rotaform started using in 2007, are beneficial because they perform higher quality, more consistent work. For instance, fewer than 20 parts per million made are found to bedefective.

Felss Rotaform was first located in a 17,000-square-foot facility on Victor Road, also in New Berlin, before moving to its current location in 2006. It initially leased 30,000 square feet of the building, but in 2013 it took over the facility’s remaining 20,000 square feet.

The new addition will be another 15,000 square feet added onto the back of the building.

Seen here is a swaging machine manufacturing a drive shaft. Felss Rotaform is a manufacturer of cold formed and processed tubular components for the automotive industry.

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