White Paper: The Rise of T-Slot Aluminum Extrusion Profiles in North American Automation, Machine Building & Safety Guarding

Executive Summary

Known for being light weight, durable and robust, extruded aluminum framing has been used in North American manufacturing for necessary but basic functions like safety hard guarding and building simple tables and industrial workbenches. European manufacturers however, have used the same material with great results for more innovative, cutting-edge designs and processes, including:

•      Single and multi-axis linear motion

•      Machine building

•      Automation and material handling applications

To remain competitive in a global economy, North American manufacturers must consider alternatives that reduce cost and improve adaptability for changing manufacturing needs.  For example, traditional welded, painted steel applications are shifting to structural aluminum for the most critical processes.  Aluminum extrusion profiles offer a lighter, reusable and more cost-effective solution than traditional welded steel for a variety of manufacturing processes, including assembly, automation, linear motion and material handling needs.

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Aluminum Extrusion Profiles Enable Innovative Hotel Breakfast Bar

Most people associate aluminum extrusion profiles with a variety of industrial applications, like material handling equipment, safety hard guarding, linear motion systems and machine building.

breakfast nook made from extruded aluminum profiles

But, the ingenuity of a Michigan-based construction company and engineers at MB Kit Systems, plus the willingness of an Embassy Suites hotel, has pushed the use of aluminum extrusion framing into a much more public role – hotel furniture. 

MB Kit Systems was asked to design a portable, custom enclosure and breakfast bar, made entirely out of structural aluminum and polycarbonate panels, that would be located in the Novi, Mich., Embassy Suites atrium.

Over the course of several months, MB Kit Systems engineers collaborated with the construction company on various ideas and designs. Within six weeks of the initial discussions, Solid Edge drawings, 3D models and quotes were submitted for approval.

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Visit MB Kit Systems at Rockwell Automation Events

MB Kit Systems Inc. will participate in several upcoming Rockwell Automation on the Move (RAOTM) events to showcase the company’s capabilities in designing and building belt-driven linear actuators, safety guarding, specialty enclosures and custom structures that incorporate or complement Rockwell Automation components and technology.

These mini tradeshows enable customers of Rockwell Automation to attend technical sessions, hands-on labs and product and technology exhibits to learn more about solutions that help improve quality and safety, reduce unscheduled downtime and optimize operating costs. The only companies permitted to exhibit in the RAOTM events are those that have been pre-qualified as Rockwell Automation partners through its Encompass Partner Program.

MB Kit Systems will display examples of its belt-driven linear actuators, which can be used in such applications as overhead gantries, with stroke lengths up to and exceeding 100 feet, and safety guarding solutions.  The company has been a member of the Rockwell Automation Encompass Partner Program for the last 9 years.

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Big Belt-Driven Linear Actuators Expand Reach of Pick & Place System

MB Kit Systems has developed linear actuators similar to the one pictured here that can travel more than 125 feet in length.

A custom automation machine builder is pushing the limits of linear motion technology with belt-driven linear actuators from MB Kit Systems that could reach 200 feet in length later this year.

The automation machine company recently retooled its pick and place robots to replace welded, painted steel components with linear actuators made from less costly extruded aluminum profiles that can be integrated with the company’s advanced laser technology.

The MB Kit System linear actuators provided were required to meet an arduous set of specifications and performance standards for this global company.

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MB Kit Systems Partners with Glide-Line Conveyors

MB Kit Systems & Glide-Line conveyors logo

MB Kit Systems Inc. has expanded its material handling solutions capabilities with the addition of Glide-Line configurable panel and pallet handling conveyors.

As an expert at engineered custom mechanical solutions,including linear actuators, custom assembly linesmaterial handling carts, machine basessafety hard guarding, custom machine enclosoures, factory stairs and platforms and ergonomic workstations, MB Kit Systems continues to seek out product innovations that improve its customers’ production efficiencies with flexible, scalable, reliable and cost-effective solutions.

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Partnership with Rockwell Automation a Win-Win for MB Kit Systems Customers

There can’t be too many U.S. manufacturers who haven’t heard of Rockwell Automation.  The Milwaukee provider of industrial automation and information products employs 22,000 people, with global sales and support capabilities, customers in more than 80 countries and sales of more than $6 billion annually.

The company’s product lines have grown tremendously since its days of supplying automatic starters and switches, circuit breakers, relays and other electric equipment during World War I. Today, Rockwell Automation’s capabilities extend to every aspect of the factory floor, including advanced process controls, design & operations software, drive systems, motion control, motor control centers, safety components and more. With continued growth in factory automation, the industrial automation giant is sure to have a hand in the success of many U.S. and global manufacturers.

However, as extensive as the company’s capabilities are, the full implementation of Rockwell Automation’s solutions oftentimes relies on the expertise and assistance of other suppliers.  That’s where its Encompass Partner Program comes in.

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MB Kit Systems Inc. to Discontinue Use of item North America Name

MB Kit Systems logo

MB Kit Systems Inc., a provider of custom-engineered mechanical hardware solutions for industrial applications, today announced that the company, previously known as dba item North America, will discontinue that name and do business as MB Kit Systems Inc. The change will be effective March 1, 2017. There will be no change in ownership, management or the number of employees, and the company’s address and facilities will remain the same.

MB Kit Systems Inc. designs and constructs extruded aluminum mechanical solutions, including linear actuators, material handling systems, machine bases and safety hard guarding, for a wide range of industrial applications in the United States and globally.

For the past 20 years, the company has done business as item North America. However, throughout this time the formal company name has always been MB Kit Systems Inc. The name change represents a recommitment to the company’s roots as a full service mechanical hardware solutions provider. 

“Throughout our history, we’ve provided customers with more than just mechanical hardware. We’re a complete solutions provider that delivers deep engineering expertise as well,” says MB Kit Systems’ President Eveline Nordhauss. “Going forward we will use the name MB Kit Systems Inc. to reflect our custom-engineered systems approach.”

For more information, visit www.mbkitsystems.com or call 888-729-4500.

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MB Kit Systems Celebrates 20 Year Anniversary

MB Kit Systems celebrates 20 years in Akron, OH

MB Kit Systems Inc., dba item North America, is proud to announce its 20th year anniversary as the first company to offer the item Machine Building System in North America!


As the first U.S. company to provide this innovative aluminum framing system, the sales & engineering teams at MB Kit Systems have unique expertise in designing and building mechanical solutions for a wide range of custom machine building, linear motion, material handling, safety guarding and stair and platform applications.


Even after two decades in Akron, Ohio, MB Kit Systems has continued to improve the capabilities we offer our partner network. Just this year, we added a second Multicam 5000 router, a Haas VF-4 vertical CNC machine, and an upgraded saw to increase production! These additions not only further expand our in-house capabilities beyond assembly of item aluminum framing systems but also enable us to better optimize component processing and decrease turnaround times.


MB Kit Systems

Our technical expertise is matched by our attention to customer service. Our sales team manages each order and project, providing customers with an easy single point of contact. Investments in technology enable us to offer proactive notifications with automatic shipping confirmation emails to ensure customers are informed when their order has shipped, how it’s shipped, and when it’s going to arrive.
Our 20 years serving U.S. manufacturing companies have enabled us to become experts in designing and building effective mechanical solutions. With thousands of completed solutions, we have learned best practices for building machine bases & frames, safety guarding and enclosures, material handling solutions, and belt-driven linear actuators. Partners of MB Kit Systems Inc. in Akron, Ohio, can be confident they are collaborating with the leading item extruded aluminum framing experts in the United States, with the most experience designing and building custom mechanical solutions.
Contact us or call 888-729-4500 for assistance with your next project. 
MB Kit Systems
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Reshoring: Bringing Manufacturing Back to the US

Manufacturing companies are shifting production facilities back to the United States, a trend referred to as reshoring. Based on a survey of manufacturing executives from the Boston Consulting Group and discussed in Industry Week, companies are showing a growing inclination toward reshoring, reversing a trend two years ago of expected additional manufacturing investments in China. In the chart below, the difference becomes clear. From 2013-2015, interest in locating new manufacturing capacity in China dropped 10 percent.

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New tools to improve workplace safety during National Safety Month

National Safety Month 2016

June is National Safety Council’s National Safety Month with the goal to educate individuals and companies about workplace safety best practices. To accomplish this, the NSC provides a variety of tools and resources to help organizations plan for a safer workplace and build safety strategies to reduce unnecessary accidents.

This year, the National Safety Council has introduced three online tools to improve workplace safety which include a Safety Assessment, Employee Safety Perception Survey, as well as an Incident Rate Calculator. With a free membership, the NSC also offers articles, recorded webinars, case studies, an online forum, as well as periodic updates on events and new resources.
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Ohio and MB Kit Systems: Vital Partners in Aerospace Industry

Ohio holds a special place as the foundation and catalyst for the aerospace industry. It was Dayton, Ohio, that was at the forefront of aerospace development, serving as the Wright Brothers’ home base and research lab. After patenting and growing into one of the first airplane manufacturers, they proved the viability of engine- propelled aircraft. Ohio’s impact on the aerospace industry expanded further throughout the 20th century.

Ohio manufacturing businesses converted to wartime production during WWII, with aerospace businesses and other manufacturers providing much-need parts for military aircraft. In 1941, the precursor to NASA, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, established the Aircraft Engine Research Laboratory in Cleveland. By locating one of its largest research centers in Ohio, NASA could recruit and develop its  astronauts locally; a total of 25 astronauts hailed from Ohio. This facility is now just one of NASA’s 10 locations in the United States and continues to conduct engine-based research as the John Glenn Research Center.

After Cleveland was chosen as the location for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Research Facility, Ohio quickly became a location for astronauts to be trained and recruited. Aerospace manufacturing expanded in the 1950s, as part supplies and engineering firms grew, keeping Ohio involved in various civilian and military projects. MB Kit Systems continues this tradition by building custom machine frames, specialty enclosures and work platforms for aerospace suppliers and companies.

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T-slotted Aluminum Profiles: Reusable and Reconfigurable

National-environmental-education-foundationAs students across the United States gain increased awareness of environmental issues during National Environmental Education Week, April 17-23. It is the responsibility of everyone, including manufacturing companies, to be mindful of our environment impact and find ways to curb inefficiency and remove unnecessary waste.

One way for manufacturers to adopt environmentally friendly principles is by utilizing our Machine Building Kit System. MB Kit Systems' high-quality extruded aluminum profiles enable manufacturers and solutions builders to design and build modular mechanical solutions that can be updated as needed, reused, and easily recycled.
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Custom Machining Expands with Additional CNC Router

At MB Kit Systems in Akron, Ohio, we’re proud to announce we have doubled our panel processing capacity with a second CNC Router. The design and processing of custom panels are a core service offered. Panels are utilized for enclosures, workstations, tabletops, testing rigs, and other mechanical solutions. Depending on the application, specific panel materials will be suggested by engineers to ensure the most appropriate materials are used.

If you have a structure, guard, or machine with panels built by MB Kit Systems, then it was likely processed on one of two routers in Akron, Ohio. Tailoring to our diverse customer base, including original equipment manufacturers and end users across many industries,we are able to quickly process custom panel solutions from a variety of materials.


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Aluminum Framing System Offers Versatility for Automation Equipment


Upgrading a facilities’ manufacturing production process from manual to automated production can be a complex and often daunting endeavor. The transition scope involves working with partners, including machine builders, integrators, programmers, and distributors. It can be overwhelming and projected costs can rise quickly, with the long-term investment and ROI hard to predict.

One way to effectively implement an automation project is with an extruded aluminum framing system. Using a high-quality t-slotted aluminum extrusion framing system to build automation equipment lowers maintenance costs, guarantees customization, and yields systems that can be fixed, modified, and updated with only a few tools.

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