Established in 1990, Lastec was the first company to successfully engineer an articulating, contouring, rotary mower for golf courses to cut rolling turf without missing or scalping the grass. Today, Lastec manufactures a range of turf and lawn mowing equipment from its world headquarters 30 miles west of Indianapolis. Its reach is worldwide.
For more than two decades, the company has relied on MetalMizer bandsaws to produce specialty, high-quality parts for its mowing equipment as well as for research and development needs in expanding its product range.
Dan Tekulve, a Lastec engineer, developed the first articulating rotary mower on a rolling golf course in Southeastern Indiana. Searching for a cost-effective and quality solution to maintain mounds and valleys with a single machine, Tekulve developed a terrain hugging unit that featured seven 21-in. rotary mowing decks attached to a frame and pulled behind a tractor. The original mower accurately cut grass in 10 ft.-wide sections as accurately as seven small push mowers. Each floating deck was driven by a belt that transferred power between them. The revolutionary “Articulator” from Lastec was born.
Throughout the past 25-plus years, Lastec has expanded into additional product lines that include self-contained lawn mowing units for residential and commercial use and pull-behind and out-front decks for use on high-profile machines, such as Kubota, John Deere, Toro and New Holland.
Producing more than 40 different models of turf and lawn mowers, Lastec has established itself as a key player in the industry with more than 25 percent of the world’s top 100 ranked golf courses, including St. Andrews and Pebble Beach as well as half of the Tournament Players Club golf courses, using its equipment.
Made in Indiana, USA
Lastec manufactures its mowing equipment, from raw steel to final assembly, at its Indiana headquarters. The in-house fabrication department can laser cut, bend, turn, machine and saw parts to specification before they are welded, painted, assembled and shipped throughout the world.
Machines vital to manufacturing Lastec’s high-quality mowing equipment include multiple cut-off saws, press brakes and machining centers, but MetalMizer bandsaws have remained consistent contributors to the operation for more than 20 years.
“The MetalMizer is a great, versatile saw for smaller shops that don’t need all the electronics or automation that drive up the cost of the machine,” says Nathan Beavers, Lastec weld and fabrication manager.
Using multiple MetalMizer saws throughout its history, Lastec currently operates with a newer model, the MetalMizer MV2300 bandsaw, for specialty fabrication of parts for
its mowing equipment line and a MetalMizer MV2018 bandsaw to handle one-off cuts for its R&D needs.
MetalMizer, also based in Indiana, got its start after hands-on fabricators conveyed their need for a cut-off saw that could tilt forward, cut at a 45-degree angle in either direction, include finite adjustments on the feed force, and offer all of this without extra bells and whistles.
So, the company built a saw that brought all of this to the table and called it the MetalMizer. Since its inception in 1985, MetalMizer saws have fulfilled fabrication, production, maintenance, and research and development needs for manufacturing companies around the world.
The material that runs through the MV2300 bandsaw eventually becomes the key parts on Lastec mowing equipment. The manufacturing process begins with raw steel staged for an automated cut-off saw and the MV2300. Using the automated saw for the first processes on most basic materials, the MV2300 is then used primarily for secondary cuts and fabricating specialty pieces for mower parts that are unable to be completed by the automated saw.
“The automated saw is used for higher quantity, simpler parts,” Beavers says. “The smaller quantity or more uniquely required parts are manufactured on the MetalMizer.”
The MV2300 at Lastec operates in full production mode during two shifts, five days a week, cutting a variety of angles of solid square stock, tube, hex and channel before the pieces are moved on for further fabrication. With a cutting a capacity up to 18 in. wide and 20 in. high, the MV2300 also features 6-ft. infeed and outfeed tables to accommodate long material.
The MV2300 features multiple upgrades to the flagship MV2018 model, including powered controls, a frequency drive blade motor, adjustable 0- to 3-degree forward tilt, powered 0- to 45-degree tilt from either side of vertical, and variable blade speed adjustment with presets for making a variety of cuts.
“The MV2300 is nice with the wide-open table top for specialty cuts,” says Jackson Butler, a machine operator at Lastec. “If you have to cut something without the standard clamps, you can use fixtures on the table’s open space, which is great for the operator.”
On the research and development side, the MV2018 bandsaw is used exclusively to manufacture parts for Lastec prototypes.
“We use the MV2018 for nearly anything we need to coarsely cut for R&D purposes,” says Ken Gibbs, Lastec research and development manager. “Steel, aluminum, plastic, brass, stainless – you name it, we use the MetalMizer to cut it.”
With an increased focus on expanding Lastec’s product range, the MV2018 is a valuable asset when cutting single pieces at a time with different setups required between each part.
“The biggest advantage is the quick-change capability where we can go from one part to another part quite rapidly,” Gibbs says. “The ability to be flexible, versatile and set up quickly are very important for our department needs, and the MetalMizer satisfies that.”
Reliable and Cost Effective
According to Gibbs, the MetalMizer bandsaws are very cost-effective and require limited maintenance.
“General operator’s maintenance is only about one hour per month, and general alignment maintenance is about one hour every four months,” Gibbs says. “The retail cost of repairs and parts on the MetalMizer saws are only one percent of the other saw we have in-house.”
Butler continues, saying that the low maintenance on the MetalMizer has enabled the saw to continue running efficiently without any stoppage in production.
“The MetalMizer is a really simple machine, and we don’t have to do a lot of maintenance on it, which helps reduce our downtime,” he says. “On our automated saw, if something goes wrong, we have to call in an engineer to take a look at it.”
Butler and Gibbs also see training as a benefit due to the simple design and user-friendly features of the MetalMizer machines.
“Another thing that’s nice about the MetalMizer is you can get someone up and running in about an hour,” Butler says. “If the primary operators are out, anyone in the shop can take over and handle the cuts needed.”
Throughout the company’s history, MetalMizer saws have provided Lastec with the versatility, ease of use and flexibility required to engineer and manufacture specialized parts for its unique mower products. Partnering with MetalMizer has also enabled Lastec to manufacture and introduce new innovative products to the market over the years.
For the future, Lastec looks to continue expanding and improving its product range of high-quality turf and lawn mowing equipment built in the USA.