L&H Branding Irons (Mandan, ND) has supplied branding products to the cattle industry for more than 50 years. Founded in 1951, L&H is the oldest U.S. manufacturer of livestock branding irons. It became a dominant player in the niche industry when it patented the first successful electric branding iron.
The company's brand name is marked on all its branding irons, clearly identifying that the product is an L&H product. To ensure high definition marking, L&H recently acquired a Matthews International Corp. (Pittsburgh, PA) Model 2045 Indent-A-Mark roll marking machine. It brands L&H's fire-heated irons, as well as its newer line of freeze branding irons.
The irons are made from a pliable steel called cal rod, similar to the burner element in an ordinary kitchen range. The production line is largely manual. "One person does all of the forming and shaping of the branding element," says Mark Helbling, owner of L&H. Customers submit their own brand designs that have been approved by various regulatory agencies. "The brand design is shaped by hand using a few simple tools," says Helbling. "Another person assembles the handles, while two more are responsible for bracing the heating elements." Steel bracing joins together the two ends of the iron where they converge and are inserted into the handle. Bracing prevents high temperatures from disfiguring the branding element.
Handles for the electric unit are made for L&H to specification by an outside injection molder using high-strength glass and nylon. The handles act as a conduit for the electrical cord that runs through the handle down to a bushing holding the brand element. The wire connects to a prong on each of the two ends of the element and is grounded. While the fire-heated and freeze brand irons are marked with the indenter, the electric unit is identified with a printed brass tag. The unit is activated by plugging it into a standard electrical outlet. A portable generator also can be used as power source. For the fire-heated irons, L&H provides a propane-fired heating unit. Coolants, such as liquid nitrogen or dry ice and alcohol, activate the freeze branders.
"With the Matthews 2045 machine, we indent the steel handles of both lines with a deep, more legible mark that's highly visible and permanent. It's also faster than hand stamping," states Helbling. During the marking cycle, a ram travels vertically downward, then across the handle to be indented. A concave die indents one image at a time on the flat surface.
For more information on marking devices, call 412-665-2500 or visit www.matthewsmarking.com.