Cariboo Steel and Machine Ltd. co-owner Jeremy Stangoe fires up the shop’s new high definition CNC plasma cutter

Cariboo Steel and Machine Ltd. co-owner Jeremy Stangoe fires up the shop’s new high definition CNC plasma cutter

INDUSTRIAL UPDATE: Cariboo Steel and Machine Ltd. on the cutting edge

Cariboo Steel and Machine Ltd. now has the ability to cut through three inches of steel.

Cariboo Steel and Machine Ltd. now has the ability to cut through three inches of steel, thanks to the recent addition of the only high definition computer numerical control plasma cutter in the Cariboo region.

“There is one in Kamloops and in Prince George, but I don’t know of anyone else in this area that has one,” said Jeremy Stangoe who along with Jason Rowley, has owned Cariboo Steel for five years.

And with Cariboo Steel’s business tied to industry and the fact customers often need fabricating or repair done quickly, it made sense to make the investment, Stangoe said.

“Our turn around times are really good, this will make them even better.”

The new plasma cutter replaces one that was smaller and could not cut nearly as nicely to the capacity the new one can, Stangoe said.

As he demonstrated how the plasma cutter works, Stangoe said a 400 amp power unit — which is the biggest amperage of its model — makes the plasma.

The torch runs on oxygen and compressed air with a gas manifold on top that controls the pressure.

The table moves the torch head around for the shapes.

Kept busy serving the forestry and mining industry, the shop’s fabricators and machinists do everything from work on mill equipment, to making rolls for plywood plants or fabrication and repairs for the general public.

“We also do metal sales,” Stangoe said.

The shop has had a computer numerical controlled lathe for about three years, Rowley said.

“On the other machines, every thing else is a rack and pinion set up,” he explained as he started up the lathe. “This one has a ball screw. There’s no backlash at all.”

Before buying the business Stangoe worked at Cariboo Steel for 12  years on and off and Rowley was there for 14 years.

Through that time they have seen big changes in their industry.

“These CNC machines used to be huge,” Rowley said as he turned on the computer for the lathe. “They used to have a ticker tape with little holes punched in and it used to read that. Now I go into the program. I tell it where to start, what diameter to go to and how far. I push start and it does it for me. It’s amazing.”

With the lathe Rowley can make shafts, cut threads, tapers and radiuses and more.

“It’s pretty cool,” he said. “And it’s safe and stops quickly if needed.”

Stangoe and Rowley grew up in Williams Lake a few blocks from each other.

“He is way younger,” Rowley said chuckling. “I was in high school before he was old enough to ride a bike.”

As for their love of the job, Stangoe said he started at a small mill in town when he was in high school, did some millwrighting, and realized he wanted to “fix and build stuff out of steel.”

Rowley said as soon as he hit Grade 8 metal work he knew it was what he wanted to do for a career.

Today there are anywhere from 10 to 12 people working at Cariboo Steel.

“Anything they can do in Vancouver or Prince George, we can do here,” Rowley said.