TriMech is fortunate to work with clients from Maine to Florida and out to Arkansas, offering a range of engineering solutions. This week’s client story showcases how TriMech helped East/West Industries support increased demand by rethinking their production process.
Small manufacturers significantly impact larger companies and make up a majority of the U.S. economy, but they rarely get the credit they deserve. These smaller manufacturers play a large role in the success of the companies they supply, and being able to provide things like parts and subassemblies on time and within budget, is a key element to their prosperity.
One of these suppliers is East/West Industries. It designs and manufactures products to save aircrew lives for top aerospace manufacturers like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Sikorsky and Northrop Grumman. Distinguished by technical excellence and best value products, East/West Industries understands that they must remain competitive and make smart decisions to remain on top.
As East/West Industries continued their growth, the demand on their CNC machine shop increased and became a bottleneck. Making customer parts were not the only thing that was becoming strained, they also needed to make the workholding tools used to support them. As a result, their machining resources were tapped out and created a backlog.
Introducing the Fortus 450mc to the Shop Floor
With previous experience introducing additive manufacturing in their production process, Mike Vetter, Sr. Director of Product Development, felt it may actually be able to assist with the current issue. After reviewing the needs, they determined that the requirements for a 3D printed workholding solution exceeded their existing 3D printer’s capabilities. It was time to make a technology decision that would help them work smarter, not harder. Instead of purchasing another CNC machine that are both space and capital intensive, they decided to invest in a Stratasys Fortus 450mc that offered more capacity and broader material options, including carbon fiber FDM Nylon 12CF.
That one decision gave East/West the ability to 3D print workholding fixtures instead of machining them. Additional measurable results include:
- Reduced production time by 2 days
- Tool cost cut by 50%
- Increased overall product readiness by 2 weeks
- 24/7 work capacity allows printing overnight for next-day operation
“The introduction of the Fortus 450mc allowed us to break the cycle of buying a new CNC machine and hiring another machinist, or increasing the queue of parts we need to manufacture, which affects delivery times,” says Vetter. “Now we can conceptualize the machining process, print the tools we need, and get the parts on the machine. It allows our CNC equipment to produce value-added parts as opposed to making tooling.”
By working with TriMech, East/West Industries has learned that in the right hands, the Fortus 450mc is the 3D equivalent of a multi-tool. It is a single printer that offers a variety of solutions in several applications. They have been able to maximize their investment by capitalizing on these various applications and are seeing exponential positive results.
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