Here is a virtual tour of the Ultra Tec factory
Some of you may know that I was a featured Kraft Master at the 2003 Kraftwerks held in Ontario California. I have a series of very interesting articles, with lots of pictures of the other Kraft Masters and some of the cool things that were demonstrated at the kraftwerks event.
Kraftwerks – factory and event
Robert casts some Platinum
Bob Lynn – CAM/CAD with Solidscape
Mokume Metal Techniques with James Binnion
Precious Metal Clay with Carl Stanley
Precious Metal Clay with Carl Stanley Part #2
I basically arranged things so that I could fly into the Ontario airport and then drive down to the Ultra Tec factory in Santa Ana a day before the Kraftwerks event and pick up a brand new Ultra Tec faceting machine. I (of course) was scheduled to do two demonstrations per day (Saturday and Sunday) at the Kraftwerks event (Ontario) on the subject of faceting.
The Ontario airport is quite nice and easy to navigate. The rental car companies are located at one end of the airport together and easy to reach. From the rental car agencies at the airport it is a very short ride to the main freeways where the fun starts. The drive was actually fairly short and took about 1.5 hours to get to the factory. It’s only 38 miles, but if you have ever driven on a California freeway, you know that the mileage is just a small part of the time it takes to get any where in California.
The idea of driving sounded good during the planning stage, but for those of you that have never driven on a California freeway with all the nuts, speed freaks, and crazy drivers… Well lets say it was a stressful drive and I will not be complaining ( not too much) about the traffic in Tucson any time soon. I did manage to find the factory without too much trouble once I got into the Kamikaze style of driving that most people in Los Angeles seem to prefer when driving on a freeway. Basically it is either join them or get run over. I am just not used to the freeways, Tucson can be as bad as it is there, it’s just that the cars in Tucson are not going nearly as fast as they are in California.
The Ultra Tec factory is located in a sleepy little industrial area on East Chestnut Avenue, Santa Ana. The traffic was actually fairly light once I got to Santa Ana and not a problem, except on the freeways. As you can see the Ultra Tec factory is in an older neighborhood and the building is surrounded by nice shade trees. The building is actually a lot larger than it looks from the fount.
Yessica, is the nice lady that usually answers the phone when you call Ultra Tec. I coaxed her a little bit but I think she is shy and she did not want me to take her picture. So you will just have to use your imagination to picture what she looks like. I will tell you she is an attractive brunette…
Above left is
Above right is Robert Rubin (and definitely not shy)… Joe Rubin’s son and pretty much the guy in charge now that Joe is semi-retired and basically taking life easy.
Left is the machine shop foreman, Robert Mendoza in his office. The computer terminal he is working on actually has a schematic on it that the machines were cutting/working on while I was there. The camera did not really get a good picture of it.
As you can see most of the CAD (computer aided design) is done by Robert and then sent to the lathes, mills, and what ever in the machine shop.
Pretty much all the machining is done high tech, with computers and CAD. That is one reason that the Ultra Tec faceting machine has such a nice fit and finish. The CAD machines, lathes, mills, are capable of creating parts and pieces to very high quality standards and achieve a fit an finish that is about the best in the business.
Through the window, behind Robert is the machine shop where all the actual machining takes place. His office was actually pretty quiet, the modern machines are not really noisy at all.
Above is a full frame picture of one of the CAD driven milling/lathe machines that Ultra Tec uses, there are several like this. You can see the computer/CAD controls on the door panel.
Below are two close up shots of the machine heads. These things are actually pretty large and massive, I would guess a couple feet wide and 3 or 4 feet long.
There are all types of machine in the shop for about every job you can imagine. Generally Ultra Tec machines parts as they need them. It depends on what they need and also on the projected sales of faceting machines as to what parts are made and when the parts are made. If they need switch plates they do a run of them, as you can see below.
Above is a machine boring holes in the on/off power and directional control switch plate the goes on top of the faceting machine. The bin to the right has bunch of finished plates, ready for the next step in making them.
Above left is a cart of aluminum blank disks that were being worked on when I was there.
In the right picture Robert is holding a finished piece. It is the platen on the faceting machine where the cutting laps rest (when cutting a stone). You can see the hole in the middle that the drive shaft comes up through.
Above left, Robert is showing me a part being finished. It is the worm gear that goes on the cheater assembly.
Above right, more machines.
Below and left is the assembly area, Ultra Tec makes other things besides just faceting machines. But pretty much every thing is assembled in this room.
They were in the process of moving some of the inventory and the locations of various parts and things. Generally the working space is a little less cramped than it looks in the pictures.
Left is a bin of metal shavings left over from the machining process that will be recycled. As you would probably guess they use a lot of metal.
If you get the chance for a visit to the Ultra Tec factory it’s an interesting tour. Plan on spending a hour or so to look around, and perhaps get some lunch. With maybe some courage to get back on a California freeways to get back to where you are staying.
Call and schedule an appointment with them so they know you are coming to visit. That way they will have time to show you around.
The Ultra Tec people are friendly and have been making Faceting machines for a long time.
1025 East Chestnut Avenue
Santa Ana, CA 92701