March 17, 2016
Changing with the times and staying in focus with the industry is key to the success of every business. Jim Fehn at Industrial Tooling and Design has expanded his work with the purchase and installation of a Mark I 3-D printer.
Fehn purchased the former Vaux grocery store on the Main Street of Bayard and began a tool and die business about 15 years ago. But in the last couple of years, he noticed a change in the industry and realized he had to change with it to stay competitive in the business.
After extensive research, Fehn selected a 3-D printer and began experimenting with the machine in December, using it to make various parts in nylon to print the basic piece. He then can reinforce the design with fiberglass, carbon fiber or Kevlar.
The fiberglass adds strength to the part. Carbon fiber is used for strength but is lightweight. Kevlar is wear resistant, adding longevity.
“They claim it can make a part as strong as aluminum,” said Fehn.
There are many options and finishes for the plastic parts.
The design work is done on a computer which in turn tells the printer the dimensions and materials to use. Fehn says it’s not a fast process. Some parts take hours and hours to print but so far, he has been highly impressed with the results.
“The big advantage is for prototypes,” noted Fehn. “I can draw it up, send it to the printer and have it make it. It comes out as a finished part.”
After working with metal thoughout his career, the switch to plastic is a major change but one that he has embraced.
“I like it,” said Fehn. “It’s been really interesting. I’ve learned a lot, some by experience and some by mistake.”
A typical tool and die job can take six to eight weeks from design to completion. He designs the dies on the computer and then builds them using the various metal-working machines in his shop.
Once they are approved, then he makes the product.
With the 3-D printer, Fehn hopes to cut weeks out of the process. And he hopes to pick up some new customers, both large and small.
“I really think this will fill a niche in the market,” concluded Fehn.
Courtesy of The News Gazette 3/17/16.