There’s always a better way….probably 10.

better-mousetrap-pc-750x600-enlarged

 

Build a better mouse trap…world beats a path. etc, etc… I hope its true. One thing I know is true…there is always a better way…. I have come to make this my mantra when developing, inventing, problem solving. Every time I use this powerful little tool, It works for me. In his book, The Lean Startup, Eric Ries describes the concept of the 5 whys. I believe it was originally from the Toyota Manufacturing playbook. As I understand, to plat this game, at least 5 why? must be asked, or until it is completely clear what the  original issue is, only then can a problem be solved. Otherwise, only symptoms are managed. In the following scenario Eric writes, a fuse was replaced several times before the 5 Whys were employed.

5 whys

 

I have found this so helpful. Not only in machine repair, but in the creative process. Where the 5 Whys dig into a problem to reveal a clear solution, I believe The 10 Ways can build up a platform of ideas one can employ to create, not only solve a problem. I have used this many times. I think it started when I was in a group of fabricators trying to solve a serious “painted yourself into a corner” problem. Ok, here is the scenario; We had built a huge Plastic pellet mixing, drying unit. Seriously big. It consisted of a Jacketed body roughly 100″ in diameter and 25 feet long. Inside the body, rotated a huge Rotor. The rotor consisted of a special custom “pipe” with 96″ diameter Stainless Steel discs welded so that about 50 of these discs set 4″ apart rotate. There are Stainless Steel arms that bolt to the side of the body and scrape the plastic material off the discs as they rotate.

Drying-top

 

Above is a picture of a 36″ unit, unpolished. Now, the rotor was too heavy to ship in the body but the client insisted the mixing arms needed to be installed so they would not be scratched during shipment over seas. The problem was that the particular unit we built was completely polished inside and was an end load unit, meaning there was no top to remove for access. The rotor had to be installed through the one open end. But all we had to do was install the mixing arms in the 25′ long body. No problem right? Standing there with the other journeyman guys as an apprentice, I was interested to see what the procedure would be to get all these arms installed. The mounts were at lease 10′ high and unfortunately, the bottom of the body was a trough, no flat surface, and polished to a shine. All attempts were embarrassing to those who tried to lift one of these 60-70 pound arms up to the mounting screws. I remember one guy there just threw up his arms and said,”it just cant be done….”. I guess they had no procedure for this type of problem.  Being the young apprentice, and a class A smart allic, I quipped,” oh, there are at least ten ways to get this done…”. The remark was met with lots of laughter obviously. But, as an exercise, I started listing them.

OK guys, we can;

•place cardboard down on the bottom and just walk to the back and lift them up to the mounting studs-oops, too heavy

•ok, we use two guys to help lift them up- oh no, once we got the part up and started for the wall,the cardboard just slid out from under us and we would drop everything while sliding back to the center of the body trough.

•Hey, we can cut a 2×12 just the right length so we can step out on it, that way we don’t have to raise the arms up so high and we can have a flat surface to walk on.- the board holds until it doesn’t, throwing me and the arm straight back to the floor.

•Ok, this time we will counter weight the two guys with a 2×4 from the platform to the top of the unit.- unfortunately, the top was rounded too so there was nothing for the 2x to bump ageist.

• what if we rig up a counterbalance on a spreader bar hanging from the crane and ten using the crane, side it in? - close but still no way to control it enough to line up the 4 studs and get nuts on them. but… this lead me to another idea.

•ok, I got it now, we load up the Snorkel man lift basket with the tools and an arm. then, using the telescoping arm, travel into the unit without touching the bottom or sides.

 

Using this technique, we quickly loaded all the arms, safely and with out scratching up the fine surface (anymore). Maybe it wasn’t a full 10 ways, but using this method got the job done in a way none of the “journeymen” guys had ever thought of.

I continue to use this to open my mind up. Every time someone tells me that there is only one way to get a job done, I love proving them wrong. There is always a better way, in fact probably 10 ways. What ever issue or problem you are working through, I bet if you stop and think of 10 ways to solve it, you will find one that works better than the one you are using now.

 

BRING YOUR IDEA, I’LL MAKE IT HAPPEN

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Fixture Plate for Laser Engraver

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complete Fixture Plate

 

Custom Fixture Plate

I love working on custom parts. One of my affiliates that does my laser etching came to me with an idea for a fixture plate to add to his Laser machine. This will enhance the table size by about 200% as well as ensuring great accuracy and speed up set ups. By using precision pins in reamed holes, we can create walls and stops for parts to “lock” into. This will save a lot of time when repeat parts are changes in and out of the machine for engraving.

This is typically how these types of jobs come about; someone has an idea that will make their lives or job better. The problem is, there is a gap between the idea and the execution of that idea. This is the gap I live and work in. I may not be the only one that can bridge this “gap” but I can promise you this; I am your best choice. Here is why;

○ with my background in the bicycle industry I have a constant eye on form ( ascetics), function and fit.

○ my food and chemical industrial equipment background at BEPEX, where I earned a journeyman card in metal fabrication taught me the systematic procedures for construction, finish, efficiency in manufacturing and industrial design.

○ managing Bulldog Machine Inc, where I received a machinist journeyman card after a 4 year apprenticeship, I learned project management, sourcing, networking, customer service, large part machining, cutting edge manufacturing practices among many other skills that add value to my clients now.

○ Now that my own shop is up and running, I can provide immediate help with design and rapid prototyping.

○ I care.

What could utilizing all my resources allow you to create?

Portable Sales Display

stainless pipe display

custom display

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My old friend, Jim Passey is a sales rep for Krausz USA, a pipe coupling company. Jim needed a mobile way to display some of the products Krausz sells. This way he can take a “mobile showroom” to the people that need to see them. Jim had a basic idea of what he wanted. We met to brainstorm some ideas of a display that would slide into his truck but be able to be removed easily. Jim decided on a handful of products to showcase, we measured them up and designed a way to hold them at eye level for display. The frame is made of stainless steel with a light grain polish. This finish will last forever and if scratches do occur, a quick sand will hide them. The beautiful stainless looks great against the bright blue of the products too. The last element is the Krausz Logo sign.

Custom designed displays like this can be extremely valuable for all types of products. I would love to work with you on your next display!

CUSTOM HEX DOOR HANDLES

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CUSTOM DOOR HANDELS

Custom door handles look great on the front of your business! Let me incorporate your Logo or a shape that complements your company Identity right into your door handles. That way, the first thing that your customers touch is already customized to them. This type of impressions go far in retail and restaurant settings. Any commercial door can be made into a custom door simply by dropping me a line. Wood, powder-coated steel, Aluminum, Stainless Steel can all be used to achieve the desired look, feel and colors that set your business apart from the rest.

Here are the steps I take to ensure you receive the right custom job;
○ I collect logo, design constraints, door info and usage info

○My designer imports the concept design into a CAD program for the client to OK and manufacturing to create programs for.

○We work with our clients to tweak and refine the design until everyone is happy. < After all the design work and planning is complete, an estimate of cost and lead-time is provided and after a deposit is received, production starts!

○Then we ship! The whole process can take hours until production. Installation can be discussed as well.

 

 

I hope I can help you soon!

Waterjet cutting….FAQs’

waterjet parts

Most frequently asked questions for waterjet cutting.

Water jet cutting is the most effective way to cut shapes in metal for the majority of jobs. I guess I’m bias as a water jet cutting provider. Though the water jet cutting machine industry is becoming ever refined, the acceptance of water jet cutting is still growing. We have new customers all the time. They usually have a bundle of questions. Here are just the first five questions we usually get when a customer starts cutting with us.

1). How does water cut metal?

The water is really just the vehicle for the cutting media. Abrasive garnet is mixed with the high pressure water to make the cut.

2). How many pounds of pressure will the machine generate?

The early water jet machines would pump at 30,000 psi. The most common is 60,000 psi but 90K and 120k models are coming out now.

3). How thick can you cut?

The great thing about water jet cutting is that you can cut any thickness. However, the thicker you cut, the slower the machine travels. While it may take one minute to cut a part out in 1/4″ steel, it may take an hour to cut the same part in 3″ steel. For each part, there is a thickness that hits diminishing returns. Often times parts thicker than 1.5″ can be flame cut and machined for the same cost as water jetting.

4). What materials can you cut?

About any material can be cut with water jet cutting. The harder the material is, the better, as long as it’s not brittle. Plastics can do well but if the material is laminated, I don not recommend waterjet cutting. The stream of water will break through the first layer but then while entering the second, the blast will rip the layers apart, delaminating the material. It will end up looking like bad plywood left out in the rain for a year. Sometimes, a trick to eliminate this is to add a long “lead-in”. The lead-in is the cut between the initial pierce of the waterjet and the start of the actual cutting of the feature. A lead-in is used to eliminate any distortion from the pierce and enhance the tolerance of the cut feature. The lead-in is always left in the scrap drop, or the parent plate, not in the part.
Any metal, stone or solid plastic arterial is a fine candidate for waterjet cutting.

5). How fast will the machine travel?
This is a function of three things; the material being cut, the thickness of that material and the quality of kerf quality desired.
The less dense the material, the faster the travel speed is. Aluminum is about 2-3 times faster cutting than steel. Stainless is about 5%-10% slower than steel in the same thickness. If the part will be machined to size and final shape later, then a faster cutting speed can be used, reducing cost. Many times the final part finish remains the waterjet cut shape, so a slower travel speed is used to enhance the cut surface.

I will update with the next set of FAQs’ regarding waterjet cutting soon. I hope this is helpful and I really hope I can bring waterjet cutting into your workflow. Contact me any time for more info or a quote.

What’s in a Door Handel?

TRUEFORM CUSTOM DOOR HANDLES

door hardware, stainless steel

                               Custom Door Handles  

custom stainless hardware

Interior and exterior view

custom stainless steel , brushed finish, custom hardware

Double door custom handles, stainless steel, hand brushed finish.

 

 

Custom door handles are one of the first things that people notice when they approach home, business or restaurant. It is normally the very first thing someone touches. The next emotion or memory they have will be framed in the reference of that very first touch. Sure, you could have your guests enter through a standard “straight from the hardware store” door knob or handle, but think of the impact that a custom door handle would make. Perhaps the logo of your business is the first thing touched, or as you pull the door of the bike shop open, you notice a bicycle handle bar in your hand. This would engage your guest before he or she even enters your shop. I think she would have a sense that you care about her shopping experience if you went to such lengths wow her.  Recently TRUEFORM completed a job like this. For the home owner, no off the shelf handle would work for her custom double door. After we consulted, I designed a handle that she and her husband loved that also solved a problem. Unfortunately the door was purchased with standard hardware bores already milled. This limited the custom options that were desired. My design incorporated the use of the pre-bored holes and resulted in a great custom look that the client was looking for. The construction material is all 316 Stainless Steel. And a hand brushed steel finish was employed. The result is a stunning effect with the eccentric radii and contrast between the deep mahogany wood and the bright smooth stainless.  Imagine what effect a custom handle would have on your door. Contact Scott at Trueform Design for a free consult of your situation.

What have I been working on?

machined parts

What have I been working on you ask?

a personal Electric vehicle with exciting cutting edge concepts

a Large custom home remodel that requires custom railing, desks, benches with integral alcohol burners and out door façades.

developing an invention that will hopefully be showcased in every pet store in the US

a custom door handle, designed and installed

a portable staging system

a custom display for a pipe connector manufacturer

along with the development of my line of products for the retail and restaurant industry. Yes, that is broad and has been keeping me quite busy. What can I work on for you?

www.trueformdesign.com

The Christmas table.

candle holder, center piece, metal work

I am a sucker for miniature Christmas tree center pieces on the table for Christmas dinner. If not that, perhaps some holly around a big red candle like my Mom has put out for decades. I think the little red holly berries have all fallen off by now. However, if you are ready to turn a new leaf and do something different this year, may I suggest this 3/16″ thick steel, waterjet cut “Grass Candle Holder” from my Etsy store. None of your friends have one and you can still wrap old  plastic holly around it…

 

Merry Christmas to all.

 

Scott

How do your Customers know what you want them to know?

wine label holder

Hold cards, labels or place settings.

 

In your wine store, you don’t want your customers grabbing bottles, rifling through stacks of bottles just to find the last Merlot in the Zin display. How better to communicate with your customers than with custom label holders? Just put one of these classy handmade label holders in front to identify exactly what you have for sale. The beauty of these label holders is that they can be changed out quickly and easily. And best of all, you don’t buy them at Costco like every other tasting room out there! Fixtures like this set your self apart from others. Let me set you up with a complete set of label holders. I can even custom design units with your logo or an emblem that conveys your brand while educating your customers. What do you want your customers to know? It is my job to design a clever way to help you answer this question. From label holders to plaque holders and banner stands, My team and I are dedicated to clear communication of your message while selling your brand.

GOOD DESIGN and a powerful LINK

When designing a part or product, there are several things you can do to reduce the overall cost of manufacture. For years managing a machine shop, I have come across some terrible drawings. The ones on the napkins or scratch paper are sometimes the best. Often times, machined partscompanies retain high level engineers that have never made anything. Of course this may not be their fault but designing parts that can actually be made with machine shop tools is a learned skill. Recently, we were machining a cover with an O-ring groove. The print had no flatness callout. When we asked the customer how flat the plate needed to be, their answer was, ” you know pretty flat, but don’t machine it flat.” Now the tolerance for the depth of the O-ring groove is +/- .005. There is absolutely no way that can be achieved with out machining the surface of the plate. Of course when the plate came in from the customer, it had a bow in it roughly 3/16″ or .190″ This required grinding and pressing before we could even touch it.

  This type of problem is so common. Designers always forget the most important information, or just assume that the fabricator or machinist knows what the designer was thinking. We all see parts differently and seldom do I just guess correctly. There are two ways that engineers and designers can combat this expensive cycle; education, and experience.   Experience- Even if an engineer doesn’t actually make a part, just having him or her in the shop while the machinist or fabricator is building the item drawn, can be a huge advantage. We have had our customer’s engineers call or stop by so they can really see some of the issues we deal with, and it cam be extremely helpful for all involved.   Education-   This is where my blog post may be most helpful… Last summer, I made a connection with a local shop that specializes in very high end complex parts made in difficult materials. They are a wonderful group of guys and gals ready and willing to help out when the parts get a little too fancy for our capabilities. Over the years, the CEO has developed an E-book that deals with these issues in a real world way. This e-book should be required reading for ALL designers and Mechanical engineers. Following these points will save an immense amount of time, money and frustration when the designs can be easily made. Most of the time small insignificant changes made to the drawing can save hours. Engineers, please read this short book and set yourself high above your competition.

go to this link, http://www.omwcorp.com/resources.  and click on, Designing Cost Effective Machined Parts                         ‘