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Complex Tooling and Molded Parts in 45 Hours

March 28, 2004

Filed under: machining,manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 10:18

INCS Inc. of Tokyo, Japan is a fascinating company in the product development and manufacturing business. It can produce precision tooling with multiple side actions, as well as molded parts the size of a mobile phone, in an unbelievable 45 hours. That’s right: less than two days. Sound impossible? The company has developed special tool design software, CNC machining software, and CNC machining centers to help streamline the process. These tools contribute to the unprecedented speeds, but it’s the company’s proprietary set of processes that makes it so highly efficient.

Shinjiro Yamada, the brains behind the operation, is the CEO of INCS. He is a highly respected individual and has a reputation for pioneering impressive new methods of product design and manufacturing. I’ve had the privilege of knowing Mr. Yamada for more than a decade and have watched him build INCS from a small startup to a corporation that now employs hundreds of talented individuals. The average age of an INCS employee is 27.

The injection molds are made of tool steel or aluminum, depending upon the required part quantity. Maximum part size is 300 x 300 x 100 mm (12 x 12 x 4 inches). The company’s 50 custom-built CNC machines are capable of milling slots as thin as 0.5 mm (0.020 inch) for ribs and other features, so no electrical discharge machining (EDM) is required for most jobs. 

It is important to note that the company requires more than two days if it is producing multiple molds as part of a single job and shipping the molded parts to customers in the U.S. or Europe. Within two weeks (from CAD data to delivery), INCS can deliver the first parts, including up to 20 different types of components at the same time. That means receiving CAD data for 20 different parts, producing molds, and delivering the parts—all within a two-week time-frame. If you know of a company that can do it faster, let me know.

Solidscape Stops SDI from Selling System

March 13, 2004

Filed under: additive manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 09:14

Three days ago, Solidscape announced that the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire had granted its request for a preliminary injunction against Sanders Design International (SDI). The Court has ordered that SDI, its agents, affiliates, and subsidiaries are restrained from marketing or selling the Sanders 20/20 system. The inkjet-based system uses wax to build parts up to 100 x 200 x 75 mm (4 x 8 x 3 inches) in size and sells for $60,000. Don’t expect to get an update on SDI or its products at the company’s website because it has changed little over the past few years. It’s clear, however, that the Sanders 20/20 product competes with products from Solidscape. And, according to preliminary findings made by the Court, it infringes on Solidscape’s intellectual property.

Solidscape has previously filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire against SDI, Royden Sanders, Jr., and Albin Hastbacka alleging patent infringement, deceptive trade practices, copyright infringement, breach of fiduciary duty, misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of confidential relationship, and breach of contract. Solidscape is seeking a permanent injection against SDI for patent infringement, as well as compensatory damages, treble damages, and attorney’s fees.

Is Israel a Dangerous Place to Visit?

March 1, 2004

Filed under: life,travel — Terry Wohlers @ 15:54

CNN and newspapers give a distorted view of the violence in Israel. In November, I returned from my sixth visit to the region (this time for some scuba diving in the Red Sea) and not once have I experienced or seen a spec of violence, nor have I seen any evidence of past violence. I’ve been more nervous in some U.S. cities. I don’t mean to suggest that random violence is not occurring in Israel and some parts may be dangerous. For the most part, however, the violence is isolated and overstated by the news media. It typically occurs on buses and in crowds, so keep that in mind if you plan to visit. A business trip to visit a company such as Objet Geometries, Solidimension, or some other organization in Israel, does not pose a much greater risk than traveling to a company in the U.S. For me, the most dangerous part of a trip to the Middle East (or anywhere, for that matter) is the drive between Fort Collins and Denver on busy I-25.