Digital Magazine

Chicago Cutting Die Celebrates 85 Years

Northbrook, IL | Chicago Cutting Die Co. marked the 85th anniversary of its founding in April. Begun by Swedish immigrant brothers in a Chicago blacksmith shop in 1923, Chicago Cutting Die today serves customers in some 40 industries across 22 countries.

“When my grandfather and his brother started the company, most of their work was for the apparel industry, and for manufacturers of envelopes and labels,” said President Lyle Archer. “Today, most of our work is in the fields of personal care, pharmaceuticals, and flexible packaging. The technologies have changed, and so have the materials we work with.”

Despite increasing pressures in an increasingly globalized economy, the firm has managed to not only survive, but thrive. “We don’t look at ourselves as just a die maker, manufacturing an element to fit into our customers’ equipment,” Archer says. “We bring our expertise to the table. Our business is to provide solutions that enable them to produce their products quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively. We’re consultants who put our recommendations to work.”

Archer said that one of the most significant business decisions Chicago Cutting Die made was ten years ago when it decided to focus almost entirely on rotary die tooling for high volume consumer products companies. “Rotary dies require extremely close tolerances,” he says. “They’re unsurpassed in producing products quickly, but they can be temperamental. You have to know what you’re doing to get it right.”

Chicago Cutting Die makes equipment for consumer-product giants such as Procter & Gamble, Kimberly-Clark, and Johnson & Johnson, enabling those companies to produce products that range from disposable diapers and flexible bandages to “smart” packaging.

“When most people think of cutting dies, they imagine a machine stamping metal into different shapes,” Archer said. “Today, however, most of our work deals with nonwovens–soft synthetic materials. It’s a very different challenge working with them than it is to stamp steel.”

The past ten years have seen some of the biggest changes in Chicago Cutting Die’s history. The company has seen its international sales increase nearly seven-fold during the last decade and, in a time when many companies are cutting back on work force, has increased its staff by 15 percent.

“We’ve remained vital in a very competitive industry,” Archer said. “We have a good business plan and we have excellent people. Our industry is constantly evolving, and we’re evolving with it. That’s one of the paradoxes of our success–we need to be precise and exact in what we build, but we have to be receptive to the constantly changing environment we operate in. That’s what we do, that’s why we’re successful.”

See http://www.chicagocuttingdie.com

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