North American Tooling Supplier Opens Multi Million Dollar Heat Treating Facility

Back in early 2021 “The Monty Heat Treat News” posted a rumor about a North American manufacturer placing an order with several furnace builders for what amounted to a multi million dollar investment. Subsequently we posted the news that the company in question is the Castool division of Exco Technologies a leading tooling and equipment supplier to light metal extruders and die casters. We can now say that most of the furnaces are now in production and have been for a short period of time. The details below come from the company itself and while it mentions Ipsen and Nitrex as suppliers our understanding is that SECO/WARWICK also provided equipment although perhaps at another location.

“Castool has dedicated heat treatment and nitride facilities in Canada, Thailand and Morocco. Each has 12-bar vacuum heat treatment furnaces capable of heat treating 15,000 lbs and vertical tubes up to 65” in length. We can nitride virtually any heat treated tool also in vacuum. The adjacent vacuum oven is located beside our Kenitra facility. In Canada, Castool currently heat treats more than 2 million lbs. of H-13 a year. The volume, sizes and specifications reguired by the market are constantly increasing. With the recent use of Gigapresses to make aluminum automotive structural members, the maximum length of a shot sleeve has increased from 50” to 65”, and is expected to increase again to more than 80”. Castool is working with Ipsen and Nitrex to equip a state-of -the-art heat treat facility in Newmarket, Ontario. The facility will start operation in spring of 2022, and will be fully operational by fall. We will offer vacuum heat treatment and nitriding services commensurate with the market demands. 

Castool is a division of Exco Technologies Limited. It was first established in the early 1980’s in Scarborough, Ontario. In 2006, a new 40,000 sq ft facility was built now expanded three times to 80,000 sq ft on the outskirts of Uxbridge, Ontario – a small, historic town about one hour northeast of Toronto. It is now the head office, design and manufacturing plant for Castool Tooling Systems, employing approximately 140 skilled people, and servicing the global aluminum extrusion and die cast industries. About 90% of these sales are exported from Canada and 70% are related to Automotive.”

“2021 POSTING; Exco Technologies to Make Large Investment in Captive Heat Treat Dept.-Find Out Why; Last Friday we posted a rumor about a Canadian company placing orders for what would appear to be a brand new, state of the art heat treatment department. The rumor is indeed true and we can now share some public details.

Exco Technologies is an international company headquartered in Canada-all the details of the firm can be found at Exco Technologies Limited – innovation, efficiency and quality ( Friday the company had a conference call to discuss earnings, a transcript of which can be found at Exco Technologies Limited (EXCOF) CEO Darren Kirk on Q2 2021 Results – Earnings Call Transcript | Seeking Alpha. The transcript made for fascinating reading and showed what is obviously a forward looking, very successful company. Included in the transcript were some details about the heat treating investment and why the decision was made to move ahead with this project-basically a faster turn around time for heat treating which is almost always the #1 reason to bring heat treating in house (further down is a short extract from the conversation). 

The company also provided this time line; • Construction begins Sept 2021 • Equipment arrives December 2021 • Operation starting January 2022. Incidentally the company is certainly not new to heat treating, as an example in 2013 they purchased a brand new 10 bar vacuum furnace for their facility in Brazil. As mentioned Friday we would expect that this is the largest new furnace order to be placed in North America in 2021 so far.

“Darren Kirk, CEO; Yes. Well, the tool steel that we use for both extrusion and die-cast needs to be heat-treated to enhance the hardness properties of the steel through the manufacturing process. And so all of our steel goes through heat treat at some part of the process. And for our extrusion business, we have in-house heat treat capabilities, and we’ve long had that. And we have needed that in order to keep the lead times short. The lead time in that part of the business is seven to nine days. And if you outsource it and you lose control over that aspect, you won’t meet the objective of the lead time turnaround.

In Castool’s part of the business, they’ve grown significantly over the years, and they have relied on third-party heat treat providers. And as the complexity and these products increases and the scale of their business increases, we have determined that it is advantageous to bring that heat treat in-house. And so we’re doing that and we’re making significant investments to do so. And so, I guess with respect to extrusion, again, we are adding new heat treat equipment that is much more energy efficient, and that will have positive impacts for our operating costs as well. So there’s a few heat treat programs going on, but they’re all to upgrade our internal capabilities and reduce our costs.”

Did you like this article? Click here to subscribe to The Monty.

View our recent magazines and podcasts by clicking the following link.