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LVEDC Business Profile: Manufacturing Parts for Products All Over the World

By Colin McEvoy on November 3, 2014

If you’re reading this on a computer or mobile device, chances are it’s made from Orbel parts.

The Orbel Corporation may not be a household name, but the Palmer Township-based precision metalforming company makes more than 3 billion small sub-components each year for products assembled and sold by hundreds of brand-name companies from around the world.

“I guarantee you we have parts in your house,” said Ken Marino, president of the Orbel Corporation. “There’s no way you went through your day without touching something we made. There are certainly numerous products in the Lehigh Valley that people are using every day of the week to make their lives better that we are a part of.”

Orbel designs and creates sub-components for more than 1,000 companies from as far away as Italy, France, Malasia, Brazil, Canada and Mexico. Those companies are in such industries as electronics, medical, aerospace, automotive and the military, and they use Orbel’s parts for a wide range of products including MRI units, solar equipment, tire pressure sensing gauges, remote water monitoring, home appliances and parts for airplane cockpits.

The company employs 60 people, about twice the amount as when they moved into Palmer Township eight years ago, and Marino has found the Lehigh Valley workforce to be excellent for the type of highly-skilled jobs Orbel requires. All the company’s employees are local, with 70 percent coming from Northampton County and the rest from surrounding communities like Phillipsburg and Monroe County.

“My real need is quality people,” he said. “Obviously if you’re making a part for an airplane, it’s got to be right. I need people that can think, who are highly-trained, and that understand the importance of the products we’re making, and I’ve found exactly that from the workforce in the Lehigh Valley.”

Established in 1961, Orbel moved to 2 Danforth Road in the Palmer Industrial Park in 2006, after having been located for 23 years in Phillipsburg. The move allowed them to upgrade from their previous 35,000-square-foot location to a 50,000-square-foot facility with added efficiencies.

While other companies depend on the use of subcontractors, Orbel is one of only two full-service companies in the United States that does everything in-house from the initial design to the final stages of production. This allows the company to control product quality and shorten development time for its customers. The engineering staff works with clients on the design and CAD work, then immediately begins the process of making a photo tool for production.

“One of the unique advantages of using Orbel is the part never leaves the building; we’re doing it all under one roof,” Marino said. “Lots of design houses in America just give you the prints, and say, ‘We can’t actually make that ourselves,’ so then you’re left waiting for months.”

The production processes include photo chemical etching, inline plating, heat treating, resistance welding, photo tooling, prototype fabrication, and die and fixture manufacturing. Orbel’s in-house facilities include a complete wet lab, a measurement/testing lab and an internal maintenance department. It also recently earned its AS9100 certification, meaning it adheres to a comprehensive quality management system to ensure product safety and reliability.

Marino could not identify Orbel’s customers because the company has signed non-disclosure agreements that forbid him from doing so.

In addition to a strong workforce, Marino said the Lehigh Valley is a beneficial location for his business because of the quality of education in the region, resulting in a superior pool of prospective employees: “There’s no question the Lehigh Valley has a very dynamic educational system. We have some of the best colleges in America, great technical schools, and a strong public educational system that are turning out people who are prepared to make a good living in the world of manufacturing.”

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