Category Archives: community

The Future is NOW!

Frequently called upon for manufacturing solutions to challenging projects, HARBEC serves the most discerning customers within the aerospace/defense and security, medical device, electronics, automotive/transportation, and consumer product markets.

HARBEC takes great pride in delivering high performance precision parts to ALL of its customers. “Value indicators” such as speed, quality, performance and cost are top priority to HARBEC’s design, engineering, project management, quality, manufacturing, logistics and marketing teams’ members. In doing so, HARBEC views its role not just as a supply chain vendor – but as an integral member of our customers’ teams, converging capabilities to achieve better products and solutions.

From Robots to Racing

HARBEC never compromises on its integrity or value. Whether our customers are launching rockets to space, exploring the vastness of the deep-sea, or transporting goods across the interstate, HARBEC’s manufactured solutions are delivering unparalleled performance.

HARBEC extends this ethic to the “NOW Generation” – high school, college and university, and trade program students who represent America’s future innovators, engineers, and technologists.

In the past year HARBEC proudly served students of three regional technology design and development teams just as we would any customer: with 100% commitment to quality, performance and satisfaction. These included:

  • TAN[X], Canandaigua’s FIRST Robotics Team
  • Rensselaer Motorsport, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s (RPI) Formula SAE Team
  • RIT Clean Snowmobile, Rochester Institute of Technology’s (RIT) SAE Clean Snowmobile Team
Rensselaer Motorsport
 Competition_Team_Photo  Roll_Out_Top_View
RIT Clean Snowmobile Team
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 2016 Robotics Team Photo A2_Med  Harbec 3D Wheels_Med

In each instance the student-led teams sought out HARBEC for its ability to provide high-value technical expertise, precision manufacturing, agile innovation support, and very fast turnaround time.

For example, RIT’s SAE Clean Snowmobile Team sought a way to redesign their air intake system which would eliminate flow restrictions and improve overall engine performance. Project Manager Anthony NaDell shared his experience:  “From the moment we contacted HARBEC about potentially helping us out, everyone was very helpful. They guided us with things like figuring out the best way to make our product and what material we should use to handle the rigorous operating conditions.  HARBEC’s customer service was excellent and we would love to work with the company again in the future.​ For a single part prototype the small lead time was very impressive.”

TAN[X] designs and builds robots to meet demanding challenges established by the FIRST Robotics competition each year. Launched in 2008, TAN[X] teams’ now average about 35 students per year representing grades 9-12. Further, TAN[X] has brought together dozens of local sponsors and team mentors to support their annual challenges. HARBEC supported the team with quick turnaround parts, as they managed frequent modifications depending upon the needs of each design challenge. Specifically, TAN[X] had complications with their robot’s tank treads falling off. In response, the team designed a new pulley using CAD that was cogged with teeth, enabling the treaded track to stay in place. HARBEC 3D-printed the pulley for TAN[X]. Steve Schlegel, one of the mentors of TAN[X] stated, “HARBEC’s ability to quickly respond with a 3D printed part made a HUGE difference, and took our team up a couple notches in how well we could compete.”

Each year more than 30 student members of Rensselaer Motorsport, the official name of RPI’s Formula SAE team, design and build an open-wheeled formula race car from the ground up. The competition is regarded as one of the world’s largest intercollegiate design series. The experience enables students to take what they learned in the classroom and apply it to real-world hands-on high-technology applications. The process expands upon students’ knowledge and continued development of career-critical skills including team building and communication, engineering and systems design, data analytics and problem-solving.

HARBEC has supported Rensselaer Motorsport for many years of competition, particularly in the areas of 3-D design and analysis, materials evaluation, and production of custom precision parts.

Nicholas Debono of Rensselaer Motorsport reflects, “Rensselaer Motorsport depends on the generosity of sponsor donations to complete our yearly goal. For years, HARBEC has been one of the teams most generous and critical sponsors.  Working with HARBEC has always been a great experience. Parts are always provided with the shortest possible lead times, and professionals are always willing to help our students when advice is needed. Simply put, without HARBEC, Rensselaer Motorsport would not be able to achieve our design goals.”

For example, HARBEC supported RPI’s team with their intake assembly. Formula SAE rules require that the engine’s design teams, like Rensselaer Motorsport intake pull air through a circular restrictor 20mm in diameter. This design constraint greatly affected the power and performance of the engine. In order to compensate for the restrictor, RPI FSAE has, over the years, developed the intake assembly pictured below. It is one of the most developed systems on their racecar, earning them valuable design points during competition.


Figure 1: Solidworks Rendering of Intake Assembly


Figure 2: Sectioned View of Intake Assembly

Prior to working with HARBEC, leveraging its in-house 3-D design and printing capabilities, RPI’s SAE Formula Team relied upon much simpler designs, limiting the range of materials and performance of the intake. Many of the features of RPI’s current design were not able to be used with the older carbon design. For example, the rifling seen in figure 3, and the spike in the center of figure 4, would be almost impossible to recreate without 3D printing technology.


Figure 3: Section view Throttle Body


Figure 4: View of Runners

Because the intake is exposed to very harsh environments, material selection is also crucial. Fuel is continuously injected into the intake assembly, requiring materials to be chemically resistant. Further, the intake assembly needed to be strong, compliant, and heat resistant to ensure high performance in a combustion environment.  HARBEC engineers worked with RPI’s designers to select a glass filled polyamide material that performed extremely well in their unique application. The end result was an extremely efficient, lightweight intake assembly that added technical performance on the track and brought unique design points from the judges.

Why investing in the NOW Generation is So Critical to Business Success

The future is NOW. And in HARBEC’s experience, investing in students is critical to business sustainability and success. Just like the three examples described, every customer of HARBEC comes to us with unique technical requirements, design, engineering and manufacturing challenges. In our experience, overcoming technical challenges requires teamwork, problem-solving, and ingenuity.

It’s been a pleasure for HARBEC to have been a part of these three student design and competition teams. The students are the NOW Generation, focused, eager, competitive, creative, and willing to learn. They displayed technical prowess and grace under pressure as they functioned as a team, and collaborated professionally with mentors and technical solutions providers.  The individuals of these teams represent the future of design, engineering, product development, and innovation for HARBEC as well as our global customers in the aerospace, defense, security, automotive and transportation, medical device, consumer products and goods industries.

We congratulate TAN[X], Rensselaer Motorsport, and RIT Clean Snowmobile on their accomplishments, and stand ready to serve them and all of our customers with continued excellence.

Getting in Gear: Exposing the Next Generation to Manufacturing…

 …A Q&A perspective from inside and outside of Harbec

Planning, developing, and ensuring a sustainable economic future is everyone’s responsibility. Having a vibrant economy, active job pool, dynamic workforce, and a diversity of economic opportunities are indicators of economic growth and prosperity. But achieving these ends requires strong coordination, partnership, and deliberate strategies between business, academia, government, and research organizations. No effort is too small when it comes to building a robust, sustainable economy.

Harbec regularly hosts groups of students from local schools ranging from Middle school through college level. By providing students with opportunities to visualize manufacturing technologies, Harbec is planting deliberate seeds to enrich a local workforce. Further, many students in local high schools are drawn to Harbec not only to experience new technology, but to learn more about the limitless potential associated with careers in advanced manufacturing, clean energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable production.

Although a pragmatic outcome of shaping young minds is preparing them for specific job opportunities, Harbec also believes that  creating awareness of sustainable manufacturing and business models can support the development of a next generation of leaders that extend their knowledge to all sectors of the economy. In doing so the economy can be further strengthened; thereby providing societal dividends such as new jobs, philanthropy, research, and innovations that improve our world.

Harbec recently asked owner Bob Bechtold, HR manager Todd Patterson, Webster Middle School technology teacher John Hohman (a 22 year teaching veteran who brought students to tour Harbec) and Dake Middle School student Owen (who recently toured Harbec) about the future of manufacturing. Here is a summary of the insights shared:

Question: What skills are necessary to be successful in manufacturing?

  • Harbec: Bob and Todd agreed, we look for new hires that have an ability and desire to do things with their hands and that are mechanically minded. We seek out employees that have skills in math and science, communication and a developable (growth oriented) work ethic.
  • Student: Owen stated: “One must be organized, persistent and able to trouble-shoot. After being at Harbec for a tour, it became apparent that having a strong organization is important for managing so many people and machines. “
  • Teacher: Mr Hohman added, that for a student to be successful in manufacturing, or any career, there must be a desire to learn and work- they must have intrinsic motivation.


Question: Who is the ideal candidate for a career in manufacturing? What are their key characteristics?

  • Harbec: For Harbec, ideal candidates from high schools are those students that have been actively involved in Technology classes at all levels. We navigate towards students that are hands on at fixing things and are comfortable with computers. A good candidate for working in manufacturing should also have an appetite for change (its constant).
  • Student: Owen believes a good candidate would be,”someone who understands the math and science involved in the process. Ideally a person who is energized within the (busy) manufacturing environment.”
  • Teacher: “Failing is a necessary function of success” states Mr. Hohman. This refers to the idea that it is OK to fail for the sake of growth and improvement and should not be feared. Many people (students and adults) are taught that failure is bad and that success is based on lack of failure. This is not a productive mentality in the “hands on” world.This is not to say that Individuals/Companies should adopt an approach of recklessness, or thoughtlessness. The problem should always be smaller than when you started.

 creating _sust_mfg_leaders

Question: How have you seen careers in manufacturing change (over the past 5 years or so) and what do you predict for the future (next 5 years)?

  • Harbec: Bob Bechtold reflects on observations from his career, “in the past 45 years the manufacturing sector has seen changes from a fully manual process to one that is primarily computer driven. The core knowledge that is necessary is the same in both scenarios, however the primary tools have changed because we are not figuring them out by hand (on paper) but with computers. At Harbec we have seen the yield (output) of 1 person double or even triple with the introduction of new equipment, software systems, and advanced manufacturing technologies. This has been done through improvements in machine/technology’s accuracy, complexity, repeatability, and therefore overall productivity.” Bob believes, that in the future, there will be a greater interweaving of additive and subtractive methods of manufacturing which will again double or triple, not only the yield, but also the range of possibilities. This will allow for complexities which cannot even be conceived of today. Technology and manufacturing solutions are ever-changing, so at Harbec, we strive to develop our new employees from all levels which create opportunities for High School and College graduates. This means our employees can grow in their job and experience a career in manufacturing at all levels.
  • Student: Owen says, “although I haven’t been involved in manufacturing, I know it has changed. In the future I would imagine more of the process would be carried out by automation technologies (robotics).
  • Teacher: Mr Hohman teaches his students about Kevin Fleming’s “Success in the New Economy”. The need for an unskilled labor force is dwindling in our society. In the future, the majority of work will require specific training or certification which however, is not solely accomplished through 4 or more years of college.


Question: How does working with each other (local school/local manufacturer) help you?

  • Harbec:  Working with local schools insures that we have accessibility to a local workforce. You can’t use technology if you don’t have people to run it. The success of technology hinges on people. We have found that working with schools from Middle to  High School through College levels creates a relationship which offers opportunities. When a student has a good experience at Harbec, whether it is in an internship or a summer job, they go on to tell their teachers, professors, neighbors, and family. This positive reinforcement provides Harbec with a continuous pool of high quality and performing candidates.
  • Teacher: Our current Middle level program has evolved into the 3 primary aspects of Technology: Physical Technology, Information/Communication, and Energy & Bio-Related Technology.  Working  with local employers such as Harbec, allows him to maintain program goals relevant to the needs of industry, NYS curriculum requirements, as well as the interests of students.
  • Student: “Visiting Harbec showed me how a facility, not too far from our school, is creating parts for the medical field”, said Owen.

Technology and manufacturing solutions are ever-changing, so at Harbec, we strive to develop our new employees from all levels which creates opportunities for both High School and College graduates. This allows our employees to grow in their job and experience a career in manufacturing at all levels.Partnering with schools exposes the future (students) to a local business with technology and potential careers that they were previously unaware of.


Community is More Than an Address

It is not enough to exist (have a physical address and place of business) in a community; rather it is essential to be an active, engaged, and a trusted ally within the community. At Harbec we take this to heart.   Since our humble beginning in our founder’s barn, Harbec has been a business that values hard work, persistence, the pursuit of excellence, innovation, and strong community. Harbec has succeeded by having strong values, ethics, and integrity which transcend every aspect of the work we do.   Our values for social responsibility are reflected in many ways. Harbec and its employees are very proud to have given back to the community in the following ways in 2014:

  • Food Drive – In November Harbec and its employees contributed more than 500 pounds of nonperishable food and frozen turkeys to a local shelter for women and children and the town food cupboard.


  • Blood Drive – More than 15 people participated in the annual American Red Cross blood drive which potentially saved almost 50 lives!


  • Gift Drive – Harbec employees contributed hundreds of new and gently used items in support of the Green Angels freecycle event, as well as  new gifts for 3 Harbec families and many items to benefit a local women’s shelter.


  • Community Education, Training, Awareness – In an average year, Harbec works with more than 30 local schools, universities, and organizations providing tours, guidance, mentoring and  support.  in 2014, we have furthered our commitment to technology education and exposed hundreds of students to our innovative and sustainable manufacturing solutions.


  • Commitment to Sustainable Manufacturing – Harbec continued its journey to reduce its operational impact on natural resources and the environment. In 2014 Harbec invested in and acquired new equipment, tools, and processes that will make its people, facilities, and operations more efficient, productive, and sustainable. Harbec’s investment to upgrade its Combined Heat and Power (CHP) physical plant will, for example, once completed in early 2015, lead to an even higher thermal efficiency factor, further reducing Harbec’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to the local community.

Whether it’s for our local community or for one of our global customers, in 2015 Harbec will continue to work hard to provide the best solutions, and with the highest integrity, quality, and performance.   See you in 2015!