Traverse City Machine Tool Accessory Supplier Forkardt Acquires Soft-Touch Technology

Traverse City-based Forkardt Inc., a provider of machine tool work holding accessories, has acquired the intellectual property Soft-Touch technology assets from General Manufacturing Systems in Saginaw. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
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General Manufacturing Systems’ Soft-Touch Technology
Forkhardt’s acquisition of General Manufacturing Systems’ Soft-Touch Technology allows it to handle parts prone to deformation in machine tooling. // Photo courtesy of Forkardt

Traverse City-based Forkardt Inc., a provider of machine tool work holding accessories, has acquired the intellectual property Soft-Touch technology assets from General Manufacturing Systems in Saginaw. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Forkardt says the addition strengthens its advanced custom and specialized work-holding capabilities for challenging machining applications in the automotive and aerospace markets, which includes production of aluminum die cast materials and thin walled components where part deformation is a concern.

“Soft-Touch is a critical technology that allows Forkardt to address the changing needs of the market and strengthens our capabilities around advanced materials,” says Chris Brown, global product manager at Forkardt. “With this acquisition, Forkardt now is the leader in non-deforming work-holding solutions for the automotive, aerospace, and advanced materials markets.”

To meet the evolving demands of increasingly electrified vehicle platforms and ever-rising demand for increased fuel efficiency, manufacturers and suppliers in the automotive, aerospace, maritime, and rail industries are racing to design and produce lighter, more-efficient vehicles and components, Brown says.

Light weighting is a top priority for manufacturers today as they move to a mix of lighter, more advanced materials for structural parts. But these newer, flexible thin-walled parts can easily distort under the pressure of normal machining and have a higher risk of bending or deforming in the clamping process.

With this acquisition, Forkardt now will provide a technology solution for holding thin-walled, advanced materials in a machine tool. The Soft-Touch chuck design allows clamp fingers to conform to a part’s natural, as-processed contour. Coupled with regulated clamping pressure, the resulting force dynamics give rigidity to fragile and delicate parts.

“We believe Forkardt provides one of the most advanced work-holding solutions across the globe today,” says Gerry Mueller, CEO of General Manufacturing Systems. “The Soft-Touch technology that I created has a bladder which expands to grasp a part, matching the components irregular shape. This innovation meets the needs of manufacturers looking for distortion free work holding and aligns perfectly to Forkardt’s automotive and aerospace target market needs.”

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