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Greg Lange, president Bystrong Water Jet

Since his first childhood ERECTOR set Greg Lange has been fascinated with building and manufacturing. Today, at the age of 77 his passion still burns, and there is no place he would rather be than in his machine shop. “I always loved making things,” reflects Bystrong Water Jet’s president Greg Lange. “Over the years I have made some beautiful parts for submarines, planes, spacecraft and even for local theme parks, and I still love it.” In his youth, Greg’s love of manufacturing was only topped by his love of flight. His new hobby was expensive so he needed a job that paid overtime wages. He found it locally at Shur-Lok Fasteners. “It was the early 60’s,” explains Greg. “At the time I was making good money at Shur-Lok, but an acquaintance kept trying to get me to go to work for him. I never did, but one night he took me to dinner and asked how much to make this part. I looked at it, said I can make it for 3 bucks. He said I’ll give you four. That was a lot of money in those days. A good wage per hour was half that.” That was a turning point for Greg, and soon he was in business for himself. It was a simple formula, people would come to him and he would make them parts. “I was good at what I did, but it still seems like a miracle that things worked out the way they did. I’ve always relied on word of mouth to earn customers and that is no different today with Bystrong Water Jet.” Fifty-three years later Greg Lange is still going strong.

Much of the work Greg does is out of hardened steels and wrecks havoc on his cutters. After researching possible alternatives, he decided the Bystronic ByJet Smart 3015 water jet cutting system was just what he needed. “The Bystronic brand was recommended to me as being a good machine,” explains Greg. “By nature the water jet machining process is a different animal so I started Bystrong Water Jet doing only water jet work to keep it separate from my other company.” The  Bystronic ByJet Smart 3015 dual head water jet has been in operation now for just under two years and Greg couldn’t be happier with its performance. “My original idea was to get the water jet to support projects from my other company, but more and more we are getting outside requests from other local shops who heard I had a water jet.”

An example of the precision capabilities of the water jet. The tree was cut out of a 3” deep piece of solid oak.

Greg’s grandson Kyle Stanford programs, runs and maintains the machine. Kyle is currently studying engineering, management, and marketing and works full time as a QC inspector, IT director and runs all the parts at Bystrong Water Jet. “I’ve been with the company a couple of years now,” tells Kyle. “I wear a lot of different hats, I can mill, I can turn, but one of my primary duties is being the water jet guy.” Kyle has been impressed with the versatility of the ByJet Smart 3015 in just the short time they’ve had it. “With the water jet we can cut complex precise shapes out of almost anything. Glass and ceramics are no problem, and it can cut to a depth of 4 inches.” The Smart 3015 is a dual head unit with an 8” separation between the heads. This means double the output in the same time frame. For thin materials the water jet can cut very fast, but on thicker parts it is slowed down to control the taper. “What I find very fascinating is the precise detail and small cuts it can make at a great depth,” elaborates Kyle. “It is at home running thick sheet metal parts and 2D shapes as it is doing stone work or making custom art. The flexibility and the accuracy are staggering.”

The last 53 years Greg describes as being a big adventure. He still is amazed how he went from making $4 parts to the ones his companies make today. “The industry has changed over the years, but in many ways it has stayed the same,” comments Greg. “We used to do everything by hand and now computers do it, but at the core we are still just making parts. Technology doesn’t bother me, it never has. I come up with the tooling; I tell them how to hold it, how to clamp it and how to attack it. Then it is up to them to implement the process.” At 77 Greg has no plans to retire, and you get the feeling that the industry is a better place with him in it. “There is no place I’d rather be than on the shop floor,” concludes Greg. “Machining parts has been my life’s work and I have loved every day of it.”