Posts

Crafts Technology Thinks “Inside the Box” with Creative 3D Packaging Solutions

Crafts Technology engineers advanced systems and tooling that enhance the utilization and performance of industrial equipment, including superhard wear parts and cutting tools.  With over 100 years of experience working with some of the world’s largest manufacturers of production applications, we are skilled at thinking outside the box to create solutions based on innovation and continuous improvement for both the OEM and end-users.

At Crafts, one competitive advantage we provide our customers is developing custom refurbishing programs that deliver significant cost savings over the life of tooling and consumables.

CRAFTS IDENTIFIES OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT

As a solution-focused organization, we pride ourselves on finding opportunities and solving potential issues before they’re identified by clients. Some ideas may seem small, but these improvements make a big difference in the total cost of operation and the usability of components.  After noticing the assortment of boxing options clients use when returning parts for refinishing, which sometimes results in delays and transit damage, we identified an opportunity for improvement.

Superhard tooling and components are ridged.  If not properly packed, they can break during shipment.  Cutting consumables are sharp, which poses both safety and shipping challenges.  By analyzing every stage of the packaging process, a creative solution was discovered.

UNIQUE 3D PRINTING IDEAS THRIVE IN A ‘WHY NOT?’ CULTURE

Generally, we think of 3D printing as a technology used to accelerate early-stage product development through rapid prototyping. However, our engineering team developed a creative solution leveraging 3D printing equipment to manufacture highly customized packaging by thinking outside of the box.

By using 3D printers, we’ve overcome the packaging challenges of cost, availability, and geometric limitations. Today, we design and print individual packaging on-demand based on the specific needs of an application.

The development process includes looking at the geometry of the part, identifying critical features (i.e., sharp or fragile tips that might break during transport), and understanding the current process.  Next, the package is designed using CAD software. Finally, after conducting real-world testing to confirm form and fit, we send samples to our partners for comments and approval.

According to Brett R. Staehlin, Crafts Technology Mechanical Process Engineer, “After developing a few 3D printed packages we realized that adding embedded magnets helped eliminate alignment issues between the part and packaging insert or between two inserts that could otherwise lead to damage.  This is just one example of how small upgrades make a big difference.”

Once approved, we provide our partners with on-demand kits that include the needed packaging along with instructions if parts are being returned for regrinding.

Adding part to packaging
Removing part from packaging

CRAFTS CUSTOM 3D PRINTING IS A CREATIVE PACKAGING SOLUTION THAT HAS SEVERAL ADVANTAGES:

  • Saves time by not requiring your shipping department to procure materials and hand-build packages for geometrically challenging parts or pieces that need additional protection
  • Embedded magnets keep everything in place during shipment to eliminate alignment issues that can lead to damage
  • Each box is ergonomically designed for personal safety based on the unique part
  • Component sharp edges and fragile points are protected to avoid breakage during shipment and to reduce safety issues
  • Continuous fiber reinforced packaging provides structural integrity during transit
  • When necessary, the 3D package serves as an ideal storage vessel
  • Packages are built as needed with no minimum order requirements and can be increased to scale as required
  • Recyclable design is better for the environment than plastic options
  • By using rapid prototyping to develop the perfect package, a positive brand impression is built

Crafts adds a little magic in every box by creating innovative solutions that protect parts, improve ergonomics, and safely transporting components using recyclable 3D printing.

If you’re looking to partner with a team that has a history of developing unique solutions for the most demanding applications, contact our subject matter experts to learn how to build solutions that you did not believe were possible.

Summer 2021 Interns Teach Crafts that Learning is a Two-Way Street

Crafts Technology welcomed two engineering interns this summer. The program provides experiential learning for young adults.  However, the Crafts team soon discovered that teaching leads to learning. Internships at Crafts give students real-world advanced systems and tooling experience in a manufacturing environment that allows them to develop their skills, gain valuable work experience, and explore career paths.

Crafts Technology welcomes Madeline Martin and Dominick Incapreo as 2021 Summer Interns

Madeline Martin is a student who benefitted from her internship at Crafts this summer. Studying industrial engineering at Iowa State University, Madeline is entering her senior year and has enjoyed taking what she’s learned in school and applying it on the job. Her experiences have included making and reading engineering drawings, designing parts using Solidworks (engineering 3D design software), managing a 3D printing cell, and working on a continuous improvement project.

Madeline has enjoyed assisting Mechanical Process Engineer Brett Staehlin in implementing Kanban, a lean manufacturing scheduling system that improves efficiencies. One project she worked on involved setting up automated notifications when a product is out of stock. The system sends a message by email to the person in charge of ordering to ensures that production isn’t interrupted.

Madeline chose industrial engineering because she likes the idea of reviewing systems and figuring out how to improve inefficiencies. She has undoubtedly accomplished that at Crafts. In addition to her contributions to the company, she’s gained valuable insights that can only come from being on the job. “Working as an intern at Crafts Technology has allowed me to learn through personal experiences instead of just from a textbook or lecture,” said Madeline. “I have been able to observe other engineers on the job and utilize what I’ve learned during my education to complete projects on my own.”

Dominick Incapreo, an incoming senior from the University of Iowa studying Mechanical Engineering, is another intern receiving valuable experience this year at Crafts.  He felt that an internship would help him better understand his career options.  He found that he’s gained much more than that. According to Dominick, “In addition to hands-on experience, I’ve learned about the importance of time management and communication.”  “ I’ve also developed a better understanding of the manufacturing process by being on the shop floor, a perspective I wouldn’t get in a more traditional engineering internship.”

One of Dominick’s responsibilities this summer is managing micro Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) cells. EDM is a metal fabrication process whereby a desired shape is obtained by using electrical discharges or sparks. Dominick’s responsibilities include programming the machines for specific operations, managing the machines, lean 5S, and developing a strategic plan for production.

Dominick is particularly excited about a special lean 5S project that uses 3D print technology. He’s currently designing a custom tray to organize EDM cells that will optimize productivity.  The tray includes cutouts in the shape of each tool. Once the design is complete, the tray will be printed using Crafts 3D printers. The result is a more organized workspace, where each piece has a home. Working alongside experienced engineers to design a project and using the 3D printer are skills Dominick knows he’ll use in the future.

In addition to the benefits that Madeline and Dominick have noted, internships are an excellent way for students to gain confidence in their skills. It’s also a perfect opportunity to network with professionals that can lead to finding a mentor or even a future job. But Crafts has found that employing interns has also led to learning opportunities for the company.

Rakesh (Rojar) Patel, Crafts Engineering Manager, oversees the internship program. He enjoys this responsibility because he fondly remembers his two internships during college, where he learned how to read blueprints, operate CAD software, and manage projects in a real-world setting. He’s privileged to be providing the same opportunity to future engineers.

What Rojar didn’t expect was that he would learn from the interns. He’s found that working with Madeline and Dominick has provided an understanding of the upcoming workforce. Not only do they bring valuable new ideas, they also offer insight about what’s important to the next generation of workers.

In the past, Crafts has benefitted by hiring interns once they graduate.  The internship period allows the Crafts team to get to know a potential employee and helps familiarize the intern with its culture. It also reduced the orientation period, which gives both Crafts and the employee an advantage.

The culture at Crafts is something that both Madeline and Dominick feel is a positive part of their internship. When considering her experience, Madeline stated, “The environment and the people at Crafts are friendly, offer constructive feedback, and are very considerate. Everyone is always happy to answer my questions and help without hesitation. My time here has given me the chance to grow as an engineer and prepared me for future endeavors.” Madeline says her experiences have led her to better understand what engineering consists of in the real world.

Dominick chose the Crafts internship because he wanted to work for a company that provided real-world experience and opportunities and hasn’t been disappointed. “Being able to intern at Crafts is a real pleasure,” he stated. “I work alongside great coworkers while learning new skills and receive the hands-on experience I’m looking for.  I will definitely be using what I’ve learned to move forward in my engineering career.”

The entire Craft team will miss Madeline and Dominick when they return to school this fall, but are comforted knowing that everyone learned this summer.