Cascade Metallurgical, a Kent, Wash.-based commercial heat treater, owes its existence to the tool industry. Current owner Bill Blackburn founded the company in 1991 (originally, it was named Ramtreat Metal Technology) to provide heat-treating services for his other business, Ramco Construction Tools. Ramco needed a reliable source to handle all of its thermal-processing needs.

Ramtreat began with an SBA loan that provided the capital to purchase a 30,000-square-foot building and a Surface Combustion Super Allcase 36-inch x 72-inch x 36-inch line, complete with a companion charge car, endothermic generator, two Unidraws and a spray dunk washer. The IQ furnace and Unidraws had Casemate and Tempmate controllers with data-acquisition software that allowed full recipe control of the furnaces as well as historical data collection and retrieval. Ramtreat started with two employees, Eddie Ortiz and Bob Berry, both of whom are still with Cascade Metallurgical today.

The large initial investment in equipment proved to be a great idea. Early on, Ramtreat stood out amongst its Northwest competition because of its state-of-the-art furnaces and controllers. Ramco’s tools and parts represented about 60% of sales for the first few years, with the balance of clients consisting of various foundries and machine shops in the Seattle area. Over the years, Ramtreat added two additional Super Allcases, a large three-tube endo generator as well as several induction hardening scanners and other equipment. After the 2001 economic downturn, Ramtreat merged with Washington Metallurgical and changed its name to Cascade Metallurgical. In 2003, Cascade acquired Scanco, another Seattle-area heat-treat business.

Today, Cascade has more than 30 furnaces and related pieces of equipment and 20 employees. The company serves a wide variety of industries, including aerospace, defense and mining. Cascade offers carburizing, carbonitriding, tempering, solution annealing, induction and flame hardening, normalizing, brazing and cryogenics. The company has received carburizing work from as far as the Midwest because heat treaters in that area were unable to control the distortion. Its specialty, however, is induction hardening of parts up to 16 inches in diameter and 11 feet long.

Cascade is keeping busy, and the company isn’t afraid to invest to remain a step ahead of the competition. The company is currently purchasing a large cooling tower from Delta Cooling Towers, a freezer from Cincinnati Sub-Zero, SSi controllers for its existing furnaces and Blue Streak management software. Cascade has also ordered a new tip-up, direct-fired furnace from Kleenair with recuperation that has a guaranteed +/- 10˚F uniformity to 1200˚F and +/- 25˚F to 2150˚F. The furnace has a work zone of 21 feet x 7 feet x 6 feet and a 50,000-pound weight limit. The company also recently completed a 1 ½-year process to become a Nadcap-accredited facility. The initial audit left Cascade with five findings in heat treat and two findings in quality systems, all of which are currently being addressed. Accreditation is expected by the end of the 2012.

As for the future, Cascade expects its customer base to grow with Nadcap accreditation. The company is also committed to training its personnel and improving its quality system. In the near future, Cascade plans on adding vacuum furnaces to its stable of equipment and plans to start offering large-capacity carburizing as a service. The company’s current growth rate of 10% per year is expected to continue through 2013.


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