Meet Mark Ratta – Working Leader, Production

Mark Ratta - Working Leader
Mark Ratta – Working Leader

Mark Ratta, the Working Leader on our production floor, joined Fourslide nearly 30 years ago as a member of the Shipping and Receiving Department.

“I didn’t even know what a fourslide machine looked like when I got here,” offers Mark. Three decades later, he is a very accomplished set-up man and a highly effective Working Leader.

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Facility Upgrade Continues

Expanded production area
Our newly expanded production area

After a 20-month hiatus – both scheduled and dictated by COVID protocols – the next phase of our facility update and reorganization is back in full swing.

The first stage of upgrades intended to boost production capacity by as much as 50% involved relocating our toolroom to an up-fitted area previously vacated by our assembly operation. This new phase involves the area that previously housed our toolmaking activities.

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What is the Expected Life of Fourslide Tooling?

Fourslide tooling is a truly Non-Recurring Expense.
Fourslide tooling is a truly Non-Recurring Expense.

We’re often asked this question after prospective customers receive a quotation. The answer is quite simple: your Fourslide tool’s life is the same as the life expectancy of the part it’s making.

Tooling built by Fourslide Spring & Stamping is truly a Non-Recurring Expense. All maintenance, repair, and even replacement of the tooling are free of charge. So long as the design of the part remains the same, the customer never pays another nickel in tooling charges.

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Choosing a Material for Your Flat Spring, Spring Clip, Contact or Other Metal Part

Selecting a material for your custom metal part

We are often asked to recommend a material for a customer’s flat spring, spring clip, battery contact, or other custom part. The standard response is that we do not make material recommendation, because the application requirements (e.g., spring force, conductivity, range of motion and corrosion resistance) are so critical to material selection. Our expertise lies in the manufacture of springs and stampings, not the design of the part for its intended function.

Rather, we suggest the materials that are viable alternatives relative to the manufacturability of a part. Many part geometries can be accomplished utilizing spring-tempered materials such as stainless steel, spring brass or phosphor bronze. When possible, these are preferable because they do not require heat treatment subsequent to forming, a process that can cause part distortion.

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Anticipating Problems in Bulk Metal Parts Manufacturing

Tangled parts
These parts became a tangled mess during the plating process.

A very high percentage of the parts for which we receive requests for quotation have never been made before. Whether it’s a flat spring, a battery contact, a wire form or a spring clip, our customers are usually fully immersed in designing a part that will fit their product and function as required. The manufacturability of their part often takes a back seat, but this is our primary concern when reviewing a new design.

The most commonly considered factors for manufacturability include the tightness of bend radii, grain direction of the material, material temper, sufficient clearance for over-bending, and the distortion resulting from the heat treat process.

One particularly insidious potential problem that often goes overlooked is part tangling and nesting. Read More →

When to Consider Fourslide for Your Wire Form

Fourslide wire form manufacturing
Fourslide wire form manufacturing

Here at Fourslide, we manufacture most parts from flat strip material. The costs of production tooling are typically justifiable for parts with an annual usage of as few as 5,000 pieces. Despite the low volume, there is often no better or more economical way to manufacture the part.

This is not the case for wire forms. When we receive an inquiry for wire forms with lower volume requirements (fewer than 20,000), we refer that customer to a CNC wire former. Because there is usually no tooling charge for CNC wire forming, it is a more economical process for manufacturing low volumes.

When volumes increase, however, the greater production speeds of the fourslide process – which result in lower per-piece prices – overcome the initial tooling investment. Read More →

Considerations for Prototyping Metal Parts

Complex parts benefit greatly from the prototype process
Complex parts like this one benefit greatly from the prototype process in determining final feature geometry.

Here at Fourslide, we have long offered prototyping services for our customers. A very high percentage of the jobs we quote are for flat springs, contacts, clips, and other metal parts that have never been previously made, to be used in brand-new devices and products. We pride ourselves on helping customers make informed decisions about part design that save them both time and money.

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Bill King Celebrates 40 Years at Fourslide

Fourslide recognizes Bill King for 40 years of service

In 1979, the federal minimum wage was $2.65 per hour; the inflation rate was 13.3%. You could buy a new Toyota Corolla for $3500 and fill the gas tank with a $10 bill. Magic Johnson’s Michigan State Spartans defeated Larry Bird’s Indiana State Sycamores in the NCAA title game. Jimmy Carter, Margaret Thatcher and the Ayatollah Khomeini were all in power.

Meanwhile, in Bristol, Connecticut, two milestone events transpired: the Entertainment and Sports Network (ESPN) took to the airwaves for the first time, and young William King made his debut at Fourslide Spring Products.Read More →

Facility Reorganization & Upgrade

Old assembly area

At Fourslide, multiple consecutive record-breaking years have led to longstanding discussions about the best way to support the ongoing growth of our core business. This led to a lot being purchased for the construction of a brand-new, larger facility across the street from our current Bristol, CT headquarters. But sometimes the best-laid plans are the ones that don’t materialize at all.Read More →