Atscott Manufacturing Company Atscott Manufacturing Company Atscott Manufacturing Company Atscott Manufacturing CompanyAtscott Manufacturing Company Atscott Manufacturing CompanyAtscott Manufacturing Company

Staying Ahead of the Game

The Atscott Manufacturing Company tackles a wide range of machined and assembled parts with help from Edgecam

Up and running for more than four decades, it’s safe to say that the Atscott Manufacturing Company has perfected a tried-and-true recipe for success.

John, Norris, owner of the Pine City, Minnesota-based outfit, purchased the business in 1978 and has implemented technologies that have helped him remain competitive through the years.

“Our two core competencies are the assembly of products and machining,” Norris says, adding that roughly 60 percent of the company’s labor is devoted to machining, while 60 percent of its sales are devoted to assembled products. “Of course, those assemblies include machined products that we then put together.”

Atscott machines both metals and plastics, and among assembled products that the tier-one company produces are glue guns, tape dispensers, and portable towers manufactured for use by the armed forces. The company performs jobs for a wide range of industries, including the aerospace sector.

Repeat customers account for about 95 percent of the company’s business, and about 80 percent of its jobs are repeat orders. Many of those jobs require the precision machining of parts with tight tolerances, and in average lot sizes of fewer than 50 pieces.

“We work with a lot of customers to develop prototypes that end up becoming assemblies, and of course all of our customers want rapid turnaround,” Norris says. “We also do some design improvement, which provides added value to our customers. We’re working with the customer to find a cost-effective way to make the products.”

Atscott employs a team of 78, including nearly 50 on the shop floor, and utilizes a grand total of 35 machine tools to accomplish manufacturing in up to four axes. Included in its machining arsenal are a mixture of lathes, and horizontal and vertical mills.

To maximize its investment in machinery and manpower, Atscott purchased the Edgecam computer-aided-manufacturing (CAM) solution, by Vero Software, in 1991.

Norris’s acquisition of the software was heavily influenced by the ongoing availability of new, educated manufacturing talent, as a technical college in close proximity to Atscott uses Edgecam as a teaching tool for CNC programming.

“We’re continually tearing down and setting up a variety of parts. Ninety percent of the new orders that come in are handled by one person. That is how efficient Edgecam is: One person can handle all of that.”

Joe Plasek, Machine Shop Manager

“The fact that the local school teaches Edgecam had a lot to do with why we got it,” Norris says. “We knew that it would be easier to find people who already had experience with the software.”

Machine Shop Manager Joe Plasek, who has been with Atscott for 33 years, is making parts today that could not be made — and that customers didn’t demand — a decade ago. For Plasek and his team, Edgecam is an asset to the production of high-quality, high-precision parts.

“I’m making things that I couldn’t 10 years ago — smaller parts and with tighter tolerances than I ever could have believed,” Plasek says. “We’re continually tearing down and setting up a variety of parts. Ninety percent of the new orders that come in are handled by one person. That is how efficient Edgecam is: One person can handle all of that.”

Edgecam is designed for flexibility and customization, so that programmers are able to select and customize features that suit their needs. The software also offers different levels of automation — fully automatic, semi-automatic, and full control — which allows users to adjust methods of operation to the manufacturing environment.

For instance, production shops that produce a high volume of identical parts, or similar families of parts, could implement fully-automatic programming for all of, or some of, its programming processes.

Shops like Atscott, which tackles 150-200 different open jobs at a time, could automate some processes for repeat jobs. However, the variety of parts manufactured by Atscott make a uniform approach difficult at best. As such, the shop utilizes Edgecam in full-control mode.

“Every part that we see is completely different,” says Plasek. “From materials to tolerances, none of them are the same,” Plasek says.

Reduced cycle time is an Edgecam gain seen at Atscott, as the software is able to machine complex components in fewer, or single, setups. A reduction in setups decreases positioning errors while increasing overall dimensional accuracy.

CNC Programmer Mark Biebl, who has been with Atscott for 35 years, notes that, while his workload has not decreased over the years, he nonetheless spends less time on the shop floor.

“Ten years ago, I was working 10 to 12-hour days,” he says. “I’m working less than nine hours now.”

As an experienced programmer, Biebl is tasked with designing and manufacturing custom fixtures for the company’s wide range of parts. For Biebl, working with solid models and producing drawings in Edgecam is simply part of a day on the job.

Working with solid models from a range of computer-aided-design (CAD) systems is made easier with Edgecam’s ability to easily import models without the need for translation. This means that the integrity of the CAD data is maintained during the importation process and that, instead of dealing with transfer glitches, programmers are able to more quickly get to the task at hand.

Biebl also takes advantage of the Edgecam Code Wizard, which assists him in customizing his own post processors. With the code wizard, which walks the programmer through the steps of post customization, Biebl has fine-tuned posts for each of the company’s machine tools.

To ensure that his toolpath is free of collisions and will create the final product he’s envisioned, Biebl uses Edgecam’s simulation and verification tools.

“I use the verification feature 90 percent of the time just to make sure I don’t have gouges,” he says.

For Atscott, the implementation of Edgecam has helped the company remain competitive in a rapidly evolving marketplace with changing and increasingly complex demands. Software updates that include efficiency-boosting features have assisted the Atscott team in staying ahead of the game.

“With each of the updates, Edgecam has really stayed ahead,” Plasek says. “With the updates, we can do more and more — and be more efficient.” 

About the Company

Name: Atscott Manufacturing Company

Business: Manufacturing and assembly of a range of metal and plastic products



Benefits Achieved

  • Reduced cycle time due to the need for fewer operations
  • Increased efficiency in the manufacturing of a variety of parts
  • Confidence gained with simulation and verification abilities


“We’re continually tearing down and setting up a variety of parts. Ninety percent of the new orders that come in are handled by one person. That is how efficient Edgecam is: One person can handle all of that.”

Joe Plasek, Machine Shop Manager


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