Although Contour has been in business for over 30 years, the Indianapolis, Ind.-based company has gone through quite an evolution. Started as an induction heating machine builder, this MTI member now provides commercial induction services … and still manufactures induction systems.

Contour was established with the goal of providing a cost-effective solution to difficult heat-treatment applications. This goal was attained through the development of an advanced computer-controlled induction heating technology known and patented as the Micropulse™ Process. Contour developed the Micropulse Process to rapidly harden gear teeth and other irregularly shaped parts. This technology minimizes distortion compared to conventional induction processing.

In 1986, the company built a system that is still used today for processing parts and developing applications for customers. Contour’s patented processes have dramatically altered the traditional methods of manufacturing case-hardened gears and other irregularly shaped, complex parts requiring a high degree of dimensional accuracy. These processes have produced revolutionary improvements in customers’ products. Parts exhibit less distortion and increased strength and durability.

Contour, which holds both ISO 9001 and ISO/IATF 16949:2009 certifications, provides a wide array of services, mainly for the automotive industry. These include induction processes, dimensional testing, full metallurgical analysis, shot peening, washing and automation (robotics and data acquisition). The company is obviously known for its induction services. In fact, Contour has never added additional heat-treatment services but rather focused on the automation of induction processing.

What sets Contour apart is that it builds the system around the part rather than building the part around the system. The company prides itself on providing a complete system – from receipt, processing, dimensional testing, metallurgical analysis, robotic automated processing to shipment.

Since its inception in 1986, Contour has enjoyed unprecedented growth. The company, which has approximately 70 employees, moved to a new, larger facility in the summer of 2000. This location manufactures induction hardening systems and provides contracted induction hardening services. In fall 2007, Contour created a satellite location in Silao, Guanajuato, Mexico. This facility includes purpose-designed utilities, computerized gear inspection equipment and a complete metallurgical laboratory to support customers in Central and South America.

Contour is not done evolving. The company, which earned a 2017 Supplier Quality Excellence Award from GM, installed two fully automated robotic lines in the past five months. Then, in July 2018, Contour named industry veteran Ben Crawford as its new CEO and president. Crawford was previously employed by three of North America’s largest providers of heat-treat services: Bodycote, Bluewater and Paulo. When hired, Crawford said, “With the installation of robotics, Contour will advance treatment applications with controlled and repeatable processing methods.”

In November 2018, Contour purchased a gas nitriding unit to expand its offerings in the automotive sector and expand deeper into the aerospace market. The company will install the unit at its Indianapolis facility in spring 2019. This purchase will allow Contour to expand services focusing on distortion-critical, complex parts. According to Crawford, the unit compliments the company’s induction and dimensional services. He added that gas nitriding capabilities will be available at the Silao plant in the near future.

As for the future, it is undoubtedly bright. Contour is planning on expanding into new geographies, increasing its aerospace business and pursuing Nadcap accreditation.

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