Up close with Lyman-Morse Fabrication

A company relying on the XPR300 for fabrication, boat building, and more...

By Ann Thompson and Michelle Avila
Posted on 06/15/2020 in SPARK the blog, Plasma cutting

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Though Jonathan Egan spent his youth working around cars, today boats dominate his time. Egan runs the fabrication shop at Lyman-Morse, a company born in 1978 on a site in Maine where wooden schooners have been built for more than 200 years. Lyman-Morse operates two boatyards now and a modern metal fabrication shop, which is Egan’s domain.

Between the boatyards and fab shop, you can find projects at all stages of construction and repair. There is a variety of custom and semi-custom sailing and motor yachts, new builds, refits, upgrades, and restorations. Some of these boats can reach 130 feet in length; move with the use of sails or engines; and cost from tens of thousands to many millions of dollars.

Approximately 100 full-time craftsmen work at Lyman-Morse. Many have made a lifetime career of fine boat building. Some are even third, fourth, and fifth-generation shipwrights and custom boat builders. These craftsmen are skilled at working with a multitude of natural and man-made materials: wood, bronze, brass, copper, titanium, steel, stainless, aluminum, iron, fiberglass, and composite.

Building boats

In the case of a boat, materials need to provide strength and rigidity, while remaining light, responsive to steering, and mindful of fuel consumption. Modern technologies and methods are incorporated throughout the process, while inhouse designs are tempered with traditional and Downeast designs. This is Maine after all.

Perhaps, not surprisingly, the company’s busiest months are in late winter and early spring as boat owners focus on getting their boats ready for the warmer weather that’s on the horizon. It is during this time that Lyman-Morse’s boat builders work 12-hour days, seven days a week.

While still busy during the remainder of the year, Lyman-Morse does have a little more leeway to take on other projects which it happily does because as Egan says, “If you can build a boat, everything else seems simple. A boat is basically a house on water. It has plumbing, electrical work, fine cabinetry, mechanical aspects, and so on.”

The fab shop’s XPR300

At 15,000 square feet, Lyman-Morse Fabrication’s shop contains a wide range of equipment necessary to complete the varied projects the company may take on. That equipment includes benders, a CNC vertical machining center, presses, shears, large and small lathes, milling machines, large band saws, and a 5-ton bridge crane to help move pieces into place. Also included, is the XPR300 with X-Definition plasma from Hypertherm.

“The XPR300 cuts everything for all three Lyman-Morse locations, plus general contractors and the public. We’ll do anything, from fixing a lawnmower blade to a newly fabricated spiral staircase, or even a five-story hotel,” Egan says. “We keep a full stock of metals on-hand so we can react quickly. Sometimes we’re given plans, but we do have three design engineers on staff who can draw anything using SolidWorks, a CAD software.”

The company has made conveyors, tanks, solar mounting kits, aluminum window cladding, architectural projects, structural steel buildings, and ornamental ironwork like stairs and railings, fences, gates, and signs, among other things in a fairly wide range of thicknesses, from 18 gauge on the thinner end of the spectrum to more than 2”. The company selected the XPR300 with Hypertherm’s OptiMix gas console option.

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Choosing the right technology for your shop

Though Egan is very happy with his purchase, he admits a new plasma system wasn’t always his first choice. “I needed to get past the waterjet myth first. I thought that I could only use waterjet because of the heat-affected zone. Saltwater corrosion on stainless steel is nasty and a real concern for me,” he explains. “I don’t want to disappoint our customers after they have invested so much, but through my research, I realized that plasma has come a long way. The heat-affected zone is so minuscule, like .001”, and can be easily be knocked off with a grinder. Plus, we mirror polish the metal anyway.”

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“We can cut fast with the plasma and do things that we couldn’t do with the waterjet. Waterjet is just so slow and requires more maintenance. The XPR300 is a wonderful machine. Cutting with a water process was the biggest selling point for me. We get such clean cuts on stainless and aluminum that I don’t even need a waterjet. The edge quality is amazing.”

XPR300 set-up

The XPR300 selected by Lyman-Morse utilizes a new class of plasma, which Hypertherm calls X-Definition Plasma. When paired with the right cutting system like the one from Messer, the system can maintain ISO 9013 Class 1 and 2 tolerances and ISO 9013 Range 2 and 3 cut quality. Further, the system can deliver edge surface finish that is generally smoother than fiber laser in the thicker ranges and extremely consistent edge quality over the full life of a consumable set.

Lyman-Morse’s plasma also includes SureCut technology giving the company access to Hypertherm’s True Hole process, which it uses on mild steel. In addition, the company utilizes the XPR300’s marking capabilities to label bend and weld lines for its metalworkers.

Lyman-Morse Fabrication is confident this cutting table will afford it much greater control of project timelines and undoubtedly open the door to a wider marketplace as the first fabricator in Maine with X-Definition cutting technology.

More information

You can visit the XPR product page for more information. We're also happy to help you find authorized Hypertherm OEMs, just complete the Contact us form.