Electro Arc Celebrates 75 Years as a Michigan Manufacturer of Metal Disintegrators!

Electro Arc was formed in Detroit Michigan on May 26, 1947 by Harold W. Stark, who was a metallurgist/manufacturer and investment broker.  Harold’s team patented the AC metal disintegrator in 1942.  The metal disintegrators were originally branded as “boring machines” while patents were pending:

In 1949 Electro Arc moved its operations to Ann Arbor, running the business on the island across from Stark’s new residence, “The Castle” on Geddes road.  Nicknamed “The Castle”, this notable location was one of many properties associated with Ford’s close associate Harry Bennett. Stark purchased this unique property in a private sale offered by Bennett in 1948.  The castle and Electro Arc stayed in the family, with Harold Stark’s eldest son, Harold Stark II taking over the business in the 1960s after his father passed away and moving his own family into the castle. The castle was sold in the 1970s  but Electro Arc operations remained on the Island. Stark II moved the company operations to 161 Enterprise Drive in Ann Arbor, MI in 2008 in order to accommodate expanding operations.  The company remained at this address until the company was purchased by Stillion Industries.

New promotions rebranded these machines as “Electro Arcs” and later “metal disintegrators” as they are currently known and referenced pending patents as the reason for limiting prior promotion of the Electro Arc product line.  Electro Arc also merged with Syncro-cut Service Co, working closely with a large university’s engineering school as mentioned below:

Electro Arc continued on to release several new products increasing its product line to over 40 bespoke machines.

The F-5 Carbide Impregnator was introduced in mid-1964, this machine improves the life of drills, milling cutters, stamping and extrusion dies, lathe turning tools, slitting saws, form tools, taps, broaches, and punches by hardening wear surfaces of these tools.

The Model 3-S  lightweight portable metal disintegrator was released in November 1964.  This machine was designed to remove taps of any size, drills as small as .040 diameter without distorting the hole, it cuts shapes of any shape in hardened steel without distortion.  We continue to manufacture and sell these machines.  This machine was updated in February of 1966 to include a coolant tank base.  Later the same year, the Model 1 metal disintegrator was released.

In 1967 and 1968 Electro Arc released the 2-SE and 2-S portable disintegrator models.  The Model 2-S originally featured the LBH head which has since been upgraded to the arc-er head. This versatile disintegrating head can be chucked to any machining device at any angle (as shown above) and has a pull-out coolant tank designed for easy cleaning.  The 2-SE has the features of the 2-S with the addition of a 20” x 19” cast iron tabletop featuring 3 T-slots.  

Between 1969 and 1972 Electro Arc introduced several of its HK machines beginning with the HK-6, which at the time was the largest and most versatile table metal disintegrator available.  This machine designed for extra heavy workpieces has a capacity of 8000 pounds, features a double-barrel 27-inch cross-arm which rotates 360 degrees, and offers power feed which eliminates the possibility of human error.

In 2004 When Electro Arc purchased long-time competitor Uni-Tek, the metal disintegrator line doubled, now offering both AC and DC machines.  DC models like the 2-SC and all of the DC tabletop models are perfect for disintegrating carbide.  The X-1 and X-2 Extract All machines are portable and ideal for use onsite.  The Bolt Eater provides heavy-duty cutting power with the servo head on a portable machine.

In 1975 Electro Arc began producing the Ames Portable Hardness Tester Line, introducing the Model 8 portable hardness tester in 1975, the tube hardness testing model ST in 1977, and offering a digital tester briefly in the 90s before discontinuing it.  In 2000 the company upgraded from the wooden case for hardness testers to a high impact case.

Both Starks purchased many companies during their commitment to Electro Arc, including metal disintegration companies Elox, Vibra’Arc, Marbaix, Jiffy, and Unitek.  Ames joined the Electro Arc family in 1975, adding Ames Portable Hardness Testers to the Electro Arc product offerings. Stillion Industries is a family-owned machine shop which also began in Ann Arbor. Stillion Industries opened its doors to offer machining services in 1972.  Originally started by Chuck Stillion, and now run by his son Keith Stillion, who moved the company to Dexter in 2014 after purchasing Dexter Manufacturing. Stillion Industries machined parts for Electro Arc for years before Keith Stillion purchased Electro Arc in July of 2019. Now, 97% of the parts for each portable hardness tester and 50-65% of the parts for every metal disintegrator are manufactured on-site here in Dexter, Michigan.  We also continue to manufacture molybdenum electrodes, and other accessories for use with Electro Arc machines, offer repair and refurbishing services for Electro Arc and Uni-Tek machines, and provide calibration and repair services for the Ames Portable Hardness Testers in addition to selling Ames accessories including test blocks which are available for purchase on our website.

At its peak, Electro Arc maintained 4 international offices.  Currently, Stillion Industries is our main headquarters with our United Kingdom office managing international sales for a number of countries not serviced by our home office.  As Stillion Industries celebrates 50 years of machine shop service in the community, we also celebrate 75 years of Electro Arc, a company that has maintained local manufacturing of all of our products for the life of the company and continues to offer innovative solutions across industries.  To commemorate this milestone for Electro Arc, we have created a timeline of the company’s milestones over the last 75 years available for you to explore.  We are also offering a limited number of Ames model 1 hardness testers in the original wood box for sale on our website. 

Merging with Electro Arc has been a huge undertaking for Stillion Industries and we strive to improve the notoriety of these durable machines with hopes to donate an Electro Arc’s old machine to The Henry Ford Museum.  In the past, Ford had specially built metal disintegrators, and Ford Sr. was a friend of Harold Stark Sr.  What a wonderful way to celebrate the history of this company and our hopes for years to come!

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