The history of ATI Ladish Co., Inc. began in 1905 with the purchase of a 1,500 lb. steam hammer and, in association with John Obenberger, Ladish was on its way to becoming known as “The Axle Forger to the Auto Industry.””
The Cudahy plant was started in 1912. By 1917, three hammers were running and the name was changed to Ladish Drop Forge Co. Ten years later, 1927, Ladish had expanded to 600 employees running 30 steam hammers making parts for the automotive, tractor and railroad companies. Always moving forward, between 1935 and 1940, Ladish spent nearly $1 million on plant improvements to support the addition of industrial pipe flanges and introduced a Production Machining Department to machine flanges. This equipment held dual purpose in the manufacturing of aircraft brake drums.
In late 1944, Vic Braun visited occupied Germany along with the U.S. troops. While there he investigated forging facilities, resulting in Ladish designing 2 of 3 counterblow hammers which are still in use today. These allowed for the forging of gas turbine wheels for the F-80 aircraft, a fighter-bomber used in the Korean conflict.
A setback in 1948 became an impetus for new growth: fire destroyed the metallurgical lab. The lab was rebuilt and redesigned, adding the latest in analytical and test equipment to Ladish Drop Forge’s sophisticated machinery, including the country’s first Immersion Sonic Testing unit, nicknamed “The Super Dooper Snooper”. This allowed for tiny internal flaws and surface breaking defects to be detected and allowed for the material to be measured for wall thickness. The addition of this technology kept Ladish in the forefront of customer quality.
By the early 1950’s, Ladish added counterblow hammers to forge new high-strength alloys, and patented D6 steel. The D6AC was used for rocket motor cases, and was later specified for the Minutemen turbine engine. Aerospace materials technology became key to Ladish’s core business.
Installments of new equipment became a steady process. In 1959, the #85 hammer, today a one of a kind hammer, was added and is capable of operating energy of 150,000 mkg.; next the #202 ring roll, measuring 28’ in diameter in 1965; and five years later the #112 press with 4,500 ton isothermal capabilities. By 1976, Ladish moved to computerized heat treating. Five years after that the #116 press increased capabilities to 10,000 ton isothermal. Then in 1987, computerized process modeling was initiated. By 1994, the multi-zone ultrasonic unit was installed to increase quality control and seven years later, the aluminum ring heat treat facility was installed, followed two years later with the patented SuperCooler heat treat facility, and by 2008, the third and world’s largest Isothermal press was installed.
In May 2011, ATI Ladish Co, Inc. was purchased by Allegheny Technologies Incorporated (NYSE:ATI), one of the largest and most diversified specialty metals producers in the world with revenues in 2012 of $5 billion. Today, ATI Ladish Forging continues to strive forward with the latest in technological advances, and is known for utilizing unique equipment and material technology with a reputation of high-strength forging excellence in the space, airframe and aircraft engine markets.