Shop Solutions:Online Sourcing Puts Suppliers In Orbit
Suppliers whose work must perform on the Space Shuttle, the International Space Station, or other spaceflight applications depend on sourcing precision-engineered parts and components that are reliable. Products supplied to NASA have only one opportunity to do their job correctly.
Payload Systems Inc. (PSI; Cambridge, MA) has provided science and engineering services for spaceflight and terrestrial applications since 1984. Its spaceflight systems have performed successfully without a single unrecoverable failure in orbit on more than two dozen missions of free-flyers—the Space Shuttle, the Spacelab, the International Space Station, and the Mir space station. “We pay a lot for our parts. It’s a little bit like prototyping except that our prototypes are the actual end product.”
The company, which operates out of an 11,000 ft² (1022 m²) facility with some 22 employees, has annual revenues between $5-$6 million. PSI has no purchasing department and doesn’t follow large-company protocols in which engineered designs are handed off to a different department for procurement. PSI’s engineers and designers work very closely with their suppliers, forging a critical, direct line of communication from engineer to supplier.
Edison Guerra, PSI mechanical engineer, explains: “We do very specific projects for the major government agencies, such as a piece of equipment or device made specifically for a NASA research goal,” he says.
Projects originate with SBIRs (small business innovative research grants) that NASA posts each year. PSI submits bids on the SBIR postings, which are fixed-price contracts and generally involve one or two units, devices, or machines. Bidding on fixed-price contracts requires PSI to be cost-competitive, knowing the cost of sourced components, as well as its own in-house costs.
Guerra can’t remember how he came across MfgQuote.com in 2000, but he does recall the circumstances. He was having some difficulty with a supplier who had become a little too comfortable in their relationship, and had begun to take advantage of the situation. Guerra decided he’d had enough. He began surfing the Internet and came across MfgQuote.com, an online production-level solution for OEMs and suppliers of engineered-to-order (ETO) components.
The MfgQuote.com site matches buyer requirements with potential suppliers possessing the right expertise, credentials, and capacity for the job being sourced. Guerra showed the site to some of the other PSI engineers and decided to give it a try.
Initially, he began using the site to broaden his supplier reach. At the time, PSI had about five suppliers. That base quickly grew to 50-60 suppliers the company has ongoing relationships with today. The site has also allowed PSI to create a supplier “tier” system, which provides a fallback position if a favorite supplier, for one reason or another, can’t deliver.
Guerra says he uses MfgQuote.com any time he needs a job right away or if it’s a job none of his suppliers have ever done before. Generally, he uses the site about 50% of the time. PSI has spent about $55,000 through MfgQuote, which may not appear like a large amount of money, but for a company of its size, it represents a lot of sourcing.
“For me, personally, it helped a lot because when I started here I had only a couple years experience, and not many contacts in the manufacturing world,” Guerra explains. “It has helped me establish contacts and find a lot of go-to people for me to work with to get my designs made.”
PSI sources primarily locally within Massachusetts, because Guerra likes to keep the local economy healthy, especially his suppliers, and he likes the idea that he can actually go out and meet with them on occasion.
Another reason is that the company is contractually bound to source most of its work domestically. “I don’t think we can source more than 5% abroad,” Guerra says. “Because the money comes directly from the government, we have to source where they want us to. Also, it doesn’t make a difference in terms of cost, because the shipping and duties are usually so high as a percentage of the total cost of the project that it would offset any savings we might realize by sourcing abroad.”
That hasn’t kept PSI from sourcing abroad when absolutely necessary. Guerra cites the example of the SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage & Reorient Experiment Satellites) project, which is a test bed for satellite constellation control and distribution systems. Work was done in conjunction with MIT. “We were unable to find an injection molder to make very professional-looking cowlings,” he says. “But we were able to source through a company on MfgQuote that got the cowlings to us for a lot less than if we had to dig through a bunch of different suppliers.”
Most of the sourcing that PSI does is for machining because it probably is the least expensive process when you’re making one or two of something. At the same time, Guerra admits that it’s a very expensive way to go if you compare sourcing thousands of machined parts to his one or two.
“We pay a lot for our parts,” he says. “It’s a little bit like prototyping, except that our prototypes are the actual end product. The unit or machine that we make rarely, if ever, has a predecessor. What we do is a bit trickier than prototyping. We’ve got to get the unit designed, built, qualified for flight, and approved, all in one shot.”
One of the areas where MfgQuote.com has really come through for PSI is in finding suppliers that specialize in processes outside of machining, for example injection molding, thermoforming, and extrusion molding, or processes that aren’t generally available locally. “Where they’ve really made a difference is in helping us locate sheet metal companies and moldmakers,” Guerra says. “These are people we would never have found on our own, let alone had an opportunity to work with.”
“Sometimes, you just can’t get around it; we have to have a part made with that process because it just can’t be machined to the shape that we need,” explains Guerra. “This is when the site becomes invaluable because we don’t have relationships with the people involved in these processes.”
For the kind of work that PSI does, bidding on fixed-price contracts, the MfgQuote.com site offers a good sense for how its bid will be received. “NASA tells us what they’re willing to spend, and then we can tell them what we’re going to give them for their money, and then we always try to give them more, above and beyond what they ask for so they’re getting more bang for their buck. Everybody likes that,” Guerra opines.
An example of a custom non-SBIR project that PSI is working on under a contract with Boeing Inc. (Chicago) is testing a PPRV (positive pressure relief valve) unit to ensure that the valve operates completely to spec and will not fail. “This is a very sensitive valve that actuates within ±0.05 psi [3.45 mbar], and it will vent out any excess pressure in a module that could build up due to excessive heat. If there were to be an over-pressurization in a space station module, that overpressure could stress the module’s seams to the point of failure,” Guerra explains.
The upside to this type of work is that each project is always custom. Each project requires significant design/engineering time, and the talent to ensure that the project fully meets or exceeds the requirements for space, weight, and functionality.
The downside is that the time consumed in specifications and the design process often results in a scramble when it comes to actually ordering parts for the devices. “We’re often up against it, time-wise,” he says, “When we order parts, they have to be completed very quickly, exactly to spec, and come in at a cost that won’t take us over budget.”
Robots Speed Fan Welding
Moore Fans LLC (Marceline, MO), founded 60 years ago, operates in a single 70,000 ft² (6500 m²) plant and employs about 50 people. They design and manufacture industrial fans for industries such as chemical processing, refining, gas processing, and energy production. “Often, orders are small volume,” says John Moore, the company’s president, “typically one to six fans, generally needed within 4–6 weeks. But it’s not unusual that we need to produce fans within 1 to 2 weeks.” The company’s strengths include fabricating unique shapes from 0.063" (1.6-mm) thick Type 5052 aluminum sheet shaped into a double-sided airfoil.
John’s older brother, Robert D., Jr. (David), managing member, says: “At the tip of the blades, we attach a bracket, which is internal to the blade. This bracket holds a tip, which extends outside the blade by approximately 1/2" [12.7 mm] to reduce noise and improve efficiency.” During the winter, ice can build up on the tip at the fan’s leading edge, impairing efficiency and potentially damaging the tip. If the edge is riveted in only one or two places, ice can bend the plate away from the blade. “While we had riveted tips to the blade for the prior 10 years,” says David Moore, “we felt that welding would yield a better product.” Steve Lambert, tool and die/welding supervisor, says the first welding attempts in the late ‘90s employed the gas-tungsten-arc process on a few fans, but the slow welding speeds were not satisfactory. “The next attempt used the gas-metal-arc process,” Lambert explains, “but this technology didn’t answer our needs either.”
Mike Schneider, Praxair automation specialist at the local branch of Praxair Distribution Inc. —a supplier of gases and welding products—in Chillicothe, MO, believed that an unexplored option was robotic arc welding. In mid-2000, he referred John and David to Brian Doyle of Panasonic Factory Automation (Buffalo Grove, IL). “Given the multitude of airfoil shapes and lengths, we had to assume very large numbers of permutations,” Doyle recalls. “Then there was the variability from part to part.” As a result, during 2000–2001, first evaluations were directed to optical sensing with a laser range finder. While the performance on the convex surface of the blade was acceptable, the performance on the concave surface was not, according to Doyle, due in part to the reflectivity problems with aluminum.
In 2003, Doyle suggested a four-way solution incorporating new technologies: high-voltage touch sensing; Windows CE-based G2 robot control platform; AC-200, an artificially intelligent, variable polarity twin inverter AC power supply; and the MIG Force servo wire feed system designed for welding aluminum.
“Traditional, low-voltage sensors, touching with the welding wire, manage well with cold-rolled steels, but for heavily scaled plate, or material coated with lead-based primers, low-voltage touch sensing was unreliable. We wondered if the high-voltage touch sensor previously developed for these applications would sense through the refractory oxide layer on aluminum, and do it without bending the wire,” explains Doyle.
It works like this: a set of contactors isolates the welding wire from the welding power supply while a transformer imposes a high-voltage, low-current potential on the welding wire relative to the workpiece. When the wire touches the work, the potential disappears, and the robot memorizes the position it has found. The combination of the 400-Vac signal and the sharp point on the wire result in a small spark, often seen just before the robot gets there. “What made this work in practice was the fast response from the G2 controller and its standard 64-bit processor,” states Doyle, “which could stop the robot before the wire bent.”
The last ingredient was the MIG Force servo pull gun, which actually straightens the wire as it feeds due to its orbital planetary drive system.
Jeff Ingraham, a welding engineer based at Panasonics’ Technology Center in Buffalo Grove, explains that the next significant task was modeling the part geometries to be welded. “Once we proved we could find the part with touch sensing, we were pretty confident that we could weld it. But how would we generate all the programs?”
The blades are tapered, and can be accurately described as an airplane wing with varying twists and lengths. After early attempts to program the configurations longhand with the teach pendant, Ingraham teamed with Moore Fans’ Information Technology expert, Bill Carter. He felt that the availability of a working touch-sensing system would enable a novel approach. “I believed we could develop a procedure enabling the robot to teach itself, rather than attempt to program every permutation of the fans.”
Carter explains that using the position variables and math functions in the Panasonic Controller, he was able to develop the routine that solved the setup time challenge. “It was also clear that we would need to modify the program for each and every part in the run, because parts varied more than the ±0.020" [±0.51-mm] tolerance the process requires.” He rapidly evolved a three-step process that achieved Moore’s goals.
First is what’s called a Setup Program, in which the robot is shown the length of the part on both the convex and concave sides of the fan in teach mode. The robot is moved manually along one axis, and one point stored per side. Doing this tells the robot the length of the part, so it knows a starting point to begin the next step, called the Discovery Program. The Discovery Program is run in automatic mode, during which the robot initially moves to the wire-clipping station, then to the point at the end of the blade, learned in the prior Setup Program. It then employs high-voltage touch sensing, alternately touching the vertical side of the blade and then moving down to touch the horizontal end piece, then indexing forward and repeating. In this manner, it teaches itself a complex geometry.
The robot searches at a nominal speed of 1 m/min to ensure accuracy. Unlike traditional touch sensing, the robot isn’t finding an offset during the Discovery Program. It’s actually creating the path to be used in the Production Program it writes along the way. Carter called the final step the Production Program. In it the robot still uses touch sensing, not to create the path, but to correct any piece-to-piece variations in the blade being welded. Once the sensing is complete, welding begins.
The controller does not need to store all the program variations generated. “There is just one Production Program in the memory, and it gets automatically rewritten each time we change the part geometry,” Carter explains.
“For all the complexity of this approach,” concludes John Moore, “this new procedure has worked well, we now produce 0.060" [1.5-mm] fillet welds at about 60 ipm [1.5 m/min] travel speed. Our next step will be to double robotic output by adding a second station and loading fixture for parts, so that the robot never stops welding.”
Precision Edge Prep For Cutting Tools
Oberg Industries (Freeport, PA), a precision manufacturer based in Western Pennsylvania, specializes in providing manufacturing and technology solutions to support customers in a variety of challenging markets.
Oberg has succeeded by building on its 57-year tradition of developing creative solutions for the production of difficult-to-machine materials, ranging from tool steel and tungsten carbide to ceramic, stainless steel, titanium, and advanced alloys.
The company recently made significant investments in five-axis CNC machining centers that help to lower costs and improve quality while offering greater operating flexibility. The new equipment is capable of machining components to within 0.0002" (0.01 mm).
To exploit the benefits of the five-axis machining centers, Oberg switched from high-speed steel tooling to high-performance carbide tools, supplied by Siem Tool (Latrobe, PA).
Oberg used to regrind all of its tools internally, a costly process outside of its area of specialization. In 2000, the company began to outsource its regrinding to Siem Tool, and has almost eliminated internal costs associated with this work.
One step which Oberg has taken to optimize tool performance has been to require that all new tools and reground tools that Oberg orders from Siem Tool receive a special edge preparation treatment developed by Conicity Technologies (Cresco, PA).
The edge preparation process, called Engineered Micro-Geometry (EMG), improves tool performance by eliminating microscopic defects in a tool’s cutting edge. The process employs a multiaxis CNC machine that prepares all cutting edges exactly the same, within a single tool and across batches of tools. The process can consistently and precisely shape edges to tolerances of 0.0002" (0.01 mm), several times more precisely than conventional honing methods.
“In some situations, this means a uniform hone along the entire cutting edge, but in other applications, it is better to vary the edge preparation. For example, the trailing edge can be honed differently from the cutting edge to minimize unwanted tool rubbing.
Such controlled distribution of the edge prep makes the tool cut more efficiently with less heat generated, a benefit that is particularly important for Oberg. The controlled distribution of the edge prep also causes less material to be trapped between the tool and the workpiece, resulting in a smoother finish.
“Longer tool life is important for a number of reasons. It translates into cost savings for regrindings and replacements. “With EMG edge prep, the interval between sharpening is typically extended by about 300%,” says Robert Binner, Oberg’s toolroom manager. “This is a great return on investment for the EMG process. Longer intervals between tool replacement also means less interruption to the production process and lower labor costs.”
More important are the indirect cost savings. “The edge prep greatly reduces tool breakage, which can cause a train wreck in our automated processes,” says Binner. “If a tool breaks in an untended machine, and a hole is not properly cut, there is a domino effect that can cause other tools to break downstream.”
Such failures can be very expensive in terms of tool damage and loss of expensive parts, and subsequent problems can be difficult to correct. “With the carbide tools from Siem Tool and the EMG edge prep, we have been able to operate our high-speed process with confidence, sometimes going weeks without replacing the drill bits and reamers,” Binner explains.
Midsize Production Shop Goes Lean
Most high-production environments are successful because hundreds, thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of the same parts are manufactured over and over again.
There are, however, a number of smaller contract manufacturers that are making their mark in the production marketplace by embracing lean manufacturing principles. For more than 20 years, KrisDee and Associates (South Elgin, IL) has specialized in small to medium-sized production runs of precision parts, remaining diversified, and continually adding equipment as customer needs demanded.
The majority of KrisDee’s work is aluminum—either cast aluminum parts or billet—requiring fast metal removal while maintaining accuracy. Over the years, KrisDee has offered a diverse range of products, from valves to aerospace parts, from medical equipment to automotive parts, and from diesel engines to heavy-equipment parts.
Running excess parts and maintaining a large inventory were necessary to satisfy customer requirements. In the past, these parts would often sit on a shelf until the customers needed them. While parts sat, the company was losing money, because the work couldn’t be invoiced until it was delivered. In addition, valuable storage space had to be added to store the parts, especially some of the larger cast-aluminum parts.
Hermann Schneider, one of the principals at KrisDee, began investigating ways to improve operational flow and part production by adopting lean-manufacturing principles. These principles include eliminating non-value-added setup time, improving the continuous flow inventory system, and finding more ways to automate operations. The objective was to provide the best quality, lowest cost, and shortest lead times to remain competitive
Automating systems is the key to success in today’s manufacturing environment, Schneider believes. “Our goal is to add as much automation as possible while maintaining the same number of employees,” he says.
Schneider and his partner, Russ Majewski, turned to an automation solution and selected a 75-pallet Makino Machining Complex (MMC2) system with Model A3 cell controller and four a51 HMCs with magazine capacities ranging from 134 to 219 tools.
“When we got the MMC, we didn’t know exactly how big to buy it,” Schneider says. “So we went with the philosophy, ‘If we build it, they will come.’ That way, we assured ourselves that we could easily accommodate current work that we planned to gain.”
The bottom line with automation systems like the MMC is that they can eliminate setups on repeat jobs without having to worry about repeatability. The first part is a good part and is exactly like the last part that was run on it—even if that part was run months ago.
Because parts are continually changing over, with some machines changing parts a number of times in a day, the MMC will save KrisDee time and money, say Messrs. Schneider and Majewski.
Schneider explains: “The theory in a production environment is that you can’t do one-off parts; you have to have a high volume to sustain the business. But we do have a lot of small to medium-sized runs. For example, one part that we run took 2 hr to set up, and the customer needs it in lots of 20.
“In the past, we would run a few months’ supply at a time to avoid the long setup the next time they ordered. Now it’s programmed into the MMC so we can run 20 at a time with very minimal setup. This is just one example of our lean principles being employed. I can’t begin to guess at the overall savings in time, and manhours we’ll see from this type of system and practice.”
Schneider says that the automation technology from Makino (Mason, OH) adds value throughout the shop. In addition, their lean practices, including continuous improvement, teamwork, and total involvement have made differences that are sometimes hard to quantify.
The first robotic automation the shop added was on an a51 HMC, which is dedicated to producing one specific high-volume part. “The great thing is that the robot only requires human loading of parts from the bin of raw material. The rest is totally automated for us,” says Schneider.
“It’s great because our employees are monitoring it without having to dedicate someone to the task. They see how the automation is helping make their jobs easier and freeing them up for different work, not taking work away from them. We were able to take two employees from this machine and move them elsewhere in the shop immediately.”
KrisDee plans to add another a51 to create a two-machine cell for the robot. In fact, Messrs. Schneider and Majewski, were so impressed with the Fanuc robot that they recently purchased a much smaller Fanuc that is mounted to a table in the shop to help reduce labor costs on what formerly were manual functions.
“We’d like to double our business without adding personnel, and with systems like the MMC we are getting close to being able to realize that goal,” says Schneider. “When we got our first A55 [HMC], we took a six-sided part with six setups and reduced it to two setups, and saw an increase in accuracy,” he says.
KrisDee has a total of 21 Makino machining centers on the floor out of a total 27 CNC machines, most being HMCs. The company took delivery of its first Makino in 1992. Schneider says he and his partner were impressed with the fact that they got very good support from Makino, even though KrisDee was a one-machine customer at the time.
“The speed of the Makinos compared to our other machines has helped, too. We can work on parts now that used to be castings. We can take a billet, especially on small runs, remove the metal faster, and eliminate the time customers were waiting to get their castings back,” Schneider says.
Like many production facilities, KrisDee has often bought equipment in the past only when the need arose, so buying the MMC was a leap of faith for them in some ways. One example of the savings KrisDee is seeing from the MMC is the elimination of 4–5 hr just in setup on some of the complex casting work.
“Shops in the production world are notorious for doing high volumes, and then they are stuck with the parts and scrap if an engineering change gets made,” says Schneider. “The biggest advantages to the MMC seem like common sense to us. The reduction in inventory, in waste, in quick part-changeover, and the flexibility to engineer, and change parts quickly out on the floor are huge lean advantages. That’s the key to our lean manufacturing success today—and for our future.”
Concurrency Speeds Product Cycle
Making the transition from pattern model shop to an overall product designer and developer has carved out a niche for Eifel Inc. (Fraser, MI) that could hardly have been imagined in 1973 by its founder, Josef Hecker.
Today, in the hands of his son, Rick Hecker, Eifel, a Tier 2 supplier, has invested more than $3 million in computer networks and servers, design engineering software, and high-speed milling machines and the CAM software to program them. The company has positioned itself to assist its customers from product concept through design and build, or at any point along the way.
Like many other traditional tool and die suppliers to the auto industry, the company hit the wall in the early 1990s. The economic environment was as difficult as it gets with global competition, technology advances, and buyer-pricing pressures challenging tool and die makers to find every way available to them to lower costs and yet make their processes even more productive.
Part design and development cycles and mold-building processes were traditionally two sequential and disconnected operations. Requiring many serial design changes before final approval of product specifications, they were a hindrance to shortened product-cycle times that were increasingly demanded by Eifel’s customers.
In the past, part-design parameters were discussed and developed, with final customer approval needed before mold design and fabrication were undertaken. Delaying the time when mold design could begin wasted precious hours and weeks while the part was being developed.
In addition to investing in the latest technology, Hecker trained cross-functional teams of CAD designers, engineers, and toolmakers who could perform tasks simultaneously in support of one another. Called Simultaneous Product Development and Manufacturing (SPDM), Eifel’s technique allows product design/development and mold-building processes to proceed along parallel timelines rather than sequentially finalizing a design, then beginning to seek bids from outside suppliers.
“As soon as we initiate a design and establish parting lines, we can order steel or aluminum. At the same time, we’re already confirming the expectations and requirements of the molder,” says Hecker.
SPDM enables Eifel to significantly reduce the time required to complete a mold program, generally cutting the time in half. These savings make the shop highly competitive in areas where speed to market is critical, such as the development of automotive aftermarket body parts. “Our niche is taking a new product quickly from concept to completion.” Hecker says.
Any concurrent engineering strategy presents risks, but Hecker points out that Eifel has been in the moldmaking business for over thirty years. That experience, combined with constant interaction and communication between the company’s design and manufacturing teams, keeps the process on track.
On the design side, Eifel functions as a member of its customer’s design team. “We understand the customer’s product upfront, and we make sure we capture all the requirements that the product has to meet,” Hecker says. As product-design progresses, Eifel involves its toolmakers to assure the manufacturability of the molds and to plan manufacturing processes.
Advanced CAM software, as might be expected, plays a key role in Eifel’s ambitious concurrent design and manufacturing strategy. High-speed machining figures prominently in Eifel’s manufacturing processes because of its benefits in both productivity and product quality. The shop currently has three vertical machining centers capable of high-speed machining, including a Johnford Hi-Net CNC and two Tongtai Topper QVM 1100 machines. Maximum table capacity is 80 × 70" (2 × 1.8 m), permitting machining of molds for large aftermarket body parts.
Eifel maximizes productivity and quality by programming the machines with PowerMILL CAM software from Delcam Inc. (Windsor, ON, Canada). The software facilitates the milling of the complex shapes through high-efficiency roughing and high-speed finishing techniques, as well as fast calculation times and advanced editing tools.
When programming roughing cuts, Eifel often employs the software’s “constant Z” machining strategy, which keeps the cutter at a consistent height relative to the workpiece and thereby equalizes the load on the cutting tool. Improved surface finish and greater tool life are the results.
Hecker stressed that state-of-the-art manufacturing technology alone is not enough. “You may be spending $350,000 for a machine, but you also need the brainpower driving that machine,” he says, “If you don’t have the right people and processes, you can’t use the technology.”
The ability to program PowerMILL on the shop floor is invaluable, says Hecker. “The guy that runs the machine also creates his own cutter paths. Again, it’s being more efficient. In some shops, jobs are programmed by one guy, and another sets the machine up, hits the go button, and hopes it works out. We don’t operate that way. It’s so much faster when the operator programming the job knows his machine, knows the tools, and knows how to remove the most amount of metal in the shortest amount of time.”
Operator Gary Shulz agrees: “I’m not one of those guys who likes to sit in front of a computer and push a lot of buttons. I look for the simplicity of it all. I like to get a toolpath made and get the machines running.”Changing a program is a ‘piece of cake’ because the software offers literally thousands of options,” he says.
“The new technology in controllers and machines is remarkable,” Hecker says. The machine tools of only 5–7 years ago ran at feeds of 30 ipm [0.76 m/min] and cutting speeds of 3000 rpm, and would take forever to cut. They couldn’t look ahead, even when cutting at 30 ipm. You didn’t have the time to do that, so you had to cut at a large stepover. Now, with the machines running at 400 ipm [10.1 m/min] and 15,000 rpm, we’re taking less cut, but much faster and more accurately,” he says.
Tight stepovers and high accuracy reduce the need for manual bench finishing, a notoriously time-consuming moldmaking operation. Today, Hecker says, high cutting speeds and accurate toolpaths are reducing benching time by 50%. “Previously, we’d spend 30 man hours on a full wheel mold getting it to match up,” Hecker says, “Today, at times, we’re out in 10 hr or less.” In fact, he says, “for many molds the finishes are so good that we don’t have to bench at all.”
P-20 production steering wheel mold by Eifel Inc. for an OEM cut using a constant Z-depth approach in PowerMILL 6.0.
Eifel’s customers appreciate the SPDM approach, Hecker says, “because they can keep it all in one shop. They don’t have to work on design in one shop, then throw it over the fence to see if another shop can build the tools.”
”Eifel’s advantage is that we do what others don’t; we provide design help and advice and concurrently engineer the mold, while our experience and technology enables us to get it out faster, too,” says Hecker. “It’s about speed, savings, and how fast we can get the product on the market. Our capabilities fit that niche perfectly.”
This article was first published in the March 2006 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine.