Blog Menu

Fresh Thinking at Thogus Products

February 19, 2010

Filed under: additive manufacturing,manufacturing,review — Terry Wohlers @ 16:18

Progressive, seeking niche markets, doing what few have done before, anticipating the next big thing: These thoughts came to mind as I toured Thogus’ manufacturing facility one month ago. The company president, 34-year old Matt Hlavin, has a knack for discovering what’s new, cool, and effective for his 60-person manufacturing firm. The company’s roots are in plastic injection molding, but it is quickly changing to adjust to recent industry trends and opportunities. For instance, the company has purchased two FDM 400mc machines from Stratasys, allowing it to quickly manufacture thermoplastic parts in volumes that would be difficult or impossible to justify with tooling.

The company is currently running 27 injection-molding presses, but Hlavin believes the company will have as many or more FDM and other additive manufacturing (AM) systems within five years. He believes AM technology is game changing and will have a lasting impact on the way products are developed and manufactured. When I said to him that some companies will send an AM model with their request for a quote (to better communicate the description of the work and potentially lowering the quote), he responded by saying, “We having been sending a AM model with our quotes to those requesting one.” The customer will say, “What’s this?” and a Thogus employee will say, “It’s your part.” So far, they have not lost a job using this approach.

One job involved the redesign and manufacture of a drag chain link for the mining industry. The goal was to reduce weight and complexity of the assembly. The redesign eliminated six parts and reduced weight by 70%. The part was manufactured in PC/ABS using one of the FDM 400mc systems. As the market grows for the product, the company expects to produce tooling and will injection mold it. For now, AM is meeting the need.