MINEVILLE — Linda Witherbee picks up a finely machined part for a piece of aerospace equipment and reaches for a micrometer caliper.
The burnished metal housing has just been turned out on Pre-Tech Precision Machining’s $500,000 Akuma horizontal milling machine.
Holding the part under a magnifying stand, Witherbee, a Moriah resident, checks every tolerance, some of which are many times thinner than a human hair.
“We’re first eyes for inspection,” she said. “The first look is the most critical. It’s all a team effort to work here.”
Strict measurements required
Aerospace machining requires the strictest tolerances in the manufacturing industry, typically 0.006 microns, which is why Pre-Tech operates a specialized inspection department. A human hair is about 50 microns in diameter.
Located in the Moriah Commerce Park on Plank Road in Mineville, Pre-Tech has been turning out precision parts for the aerospace and bio-medical industries in that location since 1998. When it opened, the plant had six workers — it now has 22 employees working two shifts, with 19 of them residing in Moriah or Port Henry. The others live in Ticonderoga, Elizabethtown and Wadhams.
“We’re a production shop,” Plant Manager James Kahler said. “We do manufacturing and quality control of parts.”
The firm also has a shipping and manufacturing facility in Williston’s (Vt.) Blair Park, where it all started in 1985.
Pre-Tech received coveted AS9100C certification last year for confirming to the Aerospace and Defense Quality Management System International Standard.
“It’s confirmation of quality, that we’re doing things the right way,” Kahler said. “You have to be at a certain stage of certification. It will open doors for companies to come in here (with contracts).”
More jobs possible
He said Pre-Tech employees don’t have to be college graduates.
“We need more of those with a trade-school education. The area has a lot of people with mechanical, artistic and math skills. Three-dimensional machining is our model. You have to be able to visualize what you’re doing.”