• Welding Design Magazine | Roark Welding

    July 8, 2008 | Ron
  • Credit:   Welding Design

    Source: http://weldingdesign.com/processes/cf-roark-welding

    Working with metals has been career choice for members of the Roark family for more than 75 years.

    Charles (Fred) Roark founded C.F. Roark Welding (www.roarkfab.com) in 1949 in the small town of Brownsburg, Ind. His father, John Landis Roark, was a blacksmith — in addition to being the Brownsburg Town Marshall — back in the 1920s.

    Today, Fred Roark's son, Charles (Ted) Roark, is president of C.F. Roark Welding & Engineering Co. Inc.

    The company's 60,000-sq.-ft. facility contains a variety of state-of-the-art metal-fabrication equipment, but the piece of equipment that put it into the lead in metal fabrication is a CNC AcuBeam Electron Beam system. The shop purchased the electron beam welding unit three years ago.

    The company specializes in complex fabrication, and it has a wide range of capabilities.

    Roark's extensive certifications include ISO9000:2000, AS 9100 and an FAA Repair Station license, and it capitalizes on those certifications as a supplier to the aerospace industries. Its certifications and in-house skills qualify Roark as a supplier to several national laboratories for scientific projects, and to the energy industry for projects that include land-based, gas turbine industry.

    However, the company didn't scale these heights overnight.

    Becoming a unique business that can play in the markets it does took several years and a huge investment.

    “After 9/11 we began seeing the impact of foreign competition, as we started to lose some work to China and other offshore regions. We wanted to develop work that would stay here in this country. We decided to broaden our appeal and to use our expertise to niche ourselves in specific markets that few others can compete in,” Charles Roark said during a recent interview and plant tour.

    The company specializes in large parts for aircraft engines and aerospace components. It caters to industries — similar to the aerospace industry — that have high barriers to entry and the ability to pay for high-end components. Those industries require niche expertise, and typically have rigid qualification processes.

    “It can take up to a year to qualify some parts for the industries we serve. That type of work narrows the field of competitors considerably. We look for the tough markets, and develop new markets that need our unique expertise and equipment,” Roark said.

    The company also does work for major OEMs and many mid-sized companies that require specialized fabrication and welding technologies.

    One process that has put the shop head and shoulders above most custom fabricating shops is the electron beam welder that it purchased from Sciaky.

    The company built a 3,600-square-foot addition onto its facility in 2005 to accommodate the equipment in a “white room” environment.

    The electron beam welder has a welding chamber that is is138 in. by 108 in. by 107 in., and six-axis welding capability. Roark said the Sciaky AcuBeam VX4 is one of the larger electron beam welders in North America.

    The welder requires more extensive setup and preparation than other welding processes.

    “Our customers are very particular when it comes to weld process requirements. Electron beam welding can go very deep and very narrow with less distortion — a more narrow heat affective zone — to give us a finesse weld that is the advantage for the type of parts we produce,” Roark said.

    In addition to the electron beam welding, the shop has robotic TIG and resistance welding cells; 1500 watt laser cutting capability for precise sheet metal cutting and drilling; vacuum heat treating and brazing.

    Many of ITS large parts are TIG-tacked to hold the parts together before they are put into the electron beam welding cell to be finished.