CNC Robotic Cutting Systems


Jay and Carrie Stacey own Universal Ironworks, a wholesaler in Prescott, Arizona. When they first started the business, they imported all their metal products from India. This continued until one day, they received a large order of metal decals for 14 major theme parks. Carrie knew that the unreliability of importing would be a problem, and says, “We looked at each other and realized we were going to have to do this in-house.” “So we bought a PlasmaCAM machine,” says Carrie. With no previous metalworking experience between the two of them, Jay quickly learned how to run the machine. “Everything started to take off, and I began to know where all the buttons were,” says Jay. “My welding was horrible, and I’m not claiming I’m a welder, but I can do a pretty good weld now.”

Since the purchase of their first machine, Universal Ironworks has seen orders increase while production times have decreased. As demand for their products has risen, so has the number of machines. Four machines currently run 10-12 hours a day, cutting an average of 30 sheets of metal per day. From this, Carrie estimates that 10-15 orders of products worth well over $100 or more ship out daily. “Oh my gosh, we have around 600 stores we ship products to,” she explains, “and we’re up 32 percent this year from last.”

Universal Ironworks specializes in small, intricate pieces like bracelets, earrings, magnets, charms, and ornaments. “I think the smallest item we cut is ¾ inch,” says Carrie. “Usually, when people think of metal cutting, they think of big pieces like signs or fence posts, and they don’t necessarily think of small things like charms.” When describing what sets Universal Ironworks apart, she also explains, “I think a lot of people are wanting to buy things made in America. I see that now. That, and people know you’re here to please them.”

With no website to speak of, Jay and Carrie rely simply on word of mouth and tips from sales reps they meet at shows. “Over time you hear people say, ‘Oh, you should do this show,’” says Carrie. “And it just sort of took off from there.” This year they plan to visit several regional shows and markets. Jay and Carrie exemplify what it takes to be successful during economically challenging times. Their strategic utilization of CNC plasma cutting enables them to produce higher quality products in bulk quantities for reasonable prices. “We’re so busy, we probably need to get more machines,” says Carrie