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Creating a More Sustainable World in 3D

Do you see your world in 3D…Where the dimensions of economy (profit), environment (planet), and society (people) are equally considered in the realization of your manufactured product? Traditional approaches to manufacturing have relied far too heavily on resource intensive processes that don’t always balance the needs of society with the profit goals of the enterprise or the environmental protection that is required for the earth to maintain a healthy and vibrant ecosystem.

Manufacturing enterprises have become substantially more resource efficient and operationally intelligent in the past Century. Compared to the way Additive Manufacturing and 3D printing can enable, there hasn’t been as dramatic an opportunity for industry to realize transformational shifts in resource utilization, since the invention of the steam engine.

Additive manufacturing (AM) takes advantage of various processes used to make three-dimensional objects in which successive layers of materials are laid down under computer control. The objects can be of almost any shape or geometry, and are produced from a 3D model or other electronic data source. AM technologies and processes are now used in a wide-range of industries and to design, engineer, and manufacture higher-performance products. AM technologies and approaches include stereolighography (SLA), selective laser sintering (SLS), and direct metal laser sintering (DMLS).

Recent advances in topology optimization can, when blended with AM, provide the means for producing a new generation of engineered parts and products. A few  years ago, AM and 3D printing were widely viewed as prototype-exclusive tools due to their relative high cost, limited material and finishing capabilities.

Definition:
TOPOLOGY:  the way in which consistent parts are interrelated or arranged.

Today, AM and 3D printing tools and equipment can, when integrated with software for topology optimization, revolutionize the way in which products are designed, prototyped, and manufactured. AM and 3D printing provide unparalleled opportunities and freedom to product designers. AM and 3D printing are near a convergence point in assimilating a suite of software, materials, techniques, and finishing options that can springboard this novel technology into the forefront of sustainable product design and manufacturing.

As AM and 3D printing integrate science and technology into superior manufacturing capabilities, the only limiting factor will be our imagination. AM and 3D printing allow for the design, development, and manufacturing of more complex shapes and topographies which result in customized products at faster manufacturing cycle times.

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The flexible design and production freedom of AM can enable sustainable design and manufacture of products. AM offers a new way to achieve competitive advantages in product design and manufacturing by addressing:

  • Design freedom – Due to the wide-ranging potential of AM technologies, design opportunities are limited only by one’s imagination. Traditional manufacturing methods play a large role in the range of options that can be achieved for product designers. In the old world of manufacturing, equipment and machines drove design and product realization based upon the capabilities of the manufacturing equipment. In contrast, the AM world liberates design and provides the means to manufacture parts that would never have been conceivable (at least cost-effectively) with traditional manufacturing methods.
  • Part optimization – AM can, when aligned with the right software, design tools, and material selections, allow designers to achieve optimum part design and performance according to characteristics and requirements that they establish. If a designer wants to optimize their part for materials utilization, production speed, or a variety of other factors related to topology, they can now do so. The latest capabilities of AM and 3D printing provide designers with tools and capabilities that can result in higher performance parts that use less material, energy, and natural resources to develop, manufacture, and use.
  • Materials availability and scarcity – As a manufacturing process, AM only uses the material(s) necessary to realize the part geometry, scale, and size specified by digital design files. Because AM processes grow a shape by depositing layer upon layer of material, this approach is significantly less material intensive than other manufacturing approaches. An example would be the design and development of an injection mold using AM (growing the injection mold with only the right amount of material necessary) versus traditional methods of CNC machining (extracting material from a large block).
  • Process and energy efficiency – When used as an integrated component of a “total manufacturing solution,” AM can be instrumental in reducing total energy consumption per part. For example, the potential of AM can allow for the development of custom injection molds/tools that more efficiently direct water or other forms of cooling to the mold, therefore reducing the time it takes to injection mold and cool a part. This achieves lower total energy for injection molders, and in addition, faster cycle times. AM can be a stand-alone manufacturing process/tool, or strategically included into a total manufacturing solution that helps manufacturers deliver high quality and performance products at every stage of the product life-cycle: design, prototype, tool making, production, and so on.
  • De-materialization of products –AM offers potential to redesign existing or new parts that perform the same or better function, and which use less material. AM parts can be designed to be lighter weight, stronger, and with greater utility than parts manufactured from other processes. As such, AM parts are becoming a preferred solution for the medical device, transportation, aerospace, and defense industries as an opportunity to integrate stronger, lighter, and longer-lasting parts into their products. These industries are attracted by many benefits of AM, however the option to dematerialize a part can have dramatic impact on total product weight, energy use, performance and longevity. For example, in the aerospace industry, companies like GE, Boeing, Airbus, and Lockheed Martin seek to reduce the weight of aircraft to achieve fuel savings, higher performance (faster aircraft), lower weight and more space. The result is a next generation of aircraft that can carry more people and cargo, longer distances, at faster speed, while using less fuel, materials, and resources.
  • Speed-to-market – With AM you can produce a part in hours, not the days or even weeks that may be required with other manufacturing methods. As a result, AM has become the process of choice for many design companies who want quick turn-around on precision prototypes at reasonable cost. In the consumer product sector, the life-cycle of many products is becoming shorter and shorter, in part because of ongoing advances in electronics and technology which make products obsolete in 18-to-24 month business cycles. As a result, many consumer product companies want a more flexible manufacturing opportunity, which balances speed-to-market with shorter-run manufacturing cycles. AM provides this kind of opportunity to cost-effectively bring new products to market quickly, and also enable a manufacturing volume that aligns with the fickleness of the marketplace.

AM delivers the means for designers, manufacturers, and society to visualize, advance, and accelerate the realization of manufactured products across three dimensions (people, planet, and profit). As shown in the visual, the opportunity and scale of sustainability potential and impacts is magnified as AM and 3D printing are used from the onset, and across the product development life-cycle.

 

Do you see your world in 3D

 

Ultimately, the use of AM results in competitive advantages related to operational efficiency (i.e., achieving lower cost of manufactured goods) and development of products that achieve a differentiated and sustainable product performance advantage (i.e., products that are stronger, faster, lighter, use less energy, use less materials, etc.). Finally, the unique capabilities of AM can support a circular economy, one which is restorative, less depletive, and leverages the elegant capabilities of AM to support or enable sustainable design, sustainable manufacturing, sustainable product realization, and product remanufacturing.

Smart Business, Sustainable Business- Eco-Economics at HARBEC

A vibrant economy is enabled by a healthy environment. Businesses and manufacturers in particular, can play a tremendous role to ensure the earth’s natural resources are not wasted, and that we do our part in conserving natural resources and protecting human health and the environment. With demand for natural resources intensifying, many businesses are working harder than ever to integrate principles of sustainability into all facets of their enterprise.

Far too often environmental stewardship is considered a “cost center” or expense to the business. This false perception can limit proactive environmental performance and the powerful impact business can have in protecting human health and the environment. Leading edge businesses have realized that their environmental and financial performance is not mutually exclusive. Business sustainability has been an evolving opportunity to gain top-and-bottom line growth by smartly integrating sustainability into the culture, strategy, and operations of the business. In fact, many businesses ranging from Unilever, LEGO, Adidas, and UPS have now realized that sustainability is not a catch-phrase, but an entirely unique strategy to design, manufacture, and deliver products that provide a sustainable benefit to society, solve complex environmental challenges, and also result in financial improvements that enable continued innovation and business growth.

In fact, according to The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment (US-SIF), the market for socially responsible investing exceeds $6.5 trillion in the U.S. alone. This is significant for public-and-private companies. Each of the past three years have seen increases in shareholder resolutions for publicly-traded companies, pushing them to improve their performance on specific environmental, social, and governance (ESG) activities. Investors, ranging from large institutional investors like mutual funds and colleges and universities, state retirement funds, and individuals, are asking more from business with regard to their ESG performance. Like the businesses they choose to invest in, investors want to minimize risk and maximize financial opportunity. Thus the investment community is looking for business to become more transparent and accountable to how they deal with their ESG performance.

Businesses that are choosing to “compete on sustainability” are realizing top line growth in revenue by being able to access new market opportunities and earn new customers based upon their ability to differentiate their business, brand, products, and performance. Those companies that also embrace “inside the fence” operational strategies for sustainable performance also benefit from significant bottom line financial results. By becoming more resource efficient, sustainable operations leaders can achieve higher productivity at lower costs and resource intensity than their peers. The net result: revenue growth and higher margins for their businesses.

This formula for financial success embraces pragmatic business strategy with operational excellence and a culture of continuous improvement. Sustainable business is smart business. It yields financial results, environmental performance, and ultimately, a more competitive, trusted, accountable business. More and more that formula, and its quotient (less risk and greater upside potential) is exactly what communities, customers, shareholders, suppliers, and others are looking for from their partners.

HARBEC has spent the past fifteen years working to demystify the symbiotic link between sustainable and financial performance. Years ago HARBEC learned that while the environmental story was important to its leadership and employees, others (financial institutions, suppliers, customers, and so on) wanted to know that financial performance was not compromised. In response to this need, HARBEC developed an internal Eco-Economic model for evaluating the costs and benefits of all technologies, equipment, and projects that relate to business objectives for achieving carbon neutrality. HARBEC’s Eco-Economic model is also a deliberate tool to ensure that the business always achieves financial value from its investments, so that goals for environmental, energy, social, and sustainable impact do not interfere with the ability of the business to achieve desired financial performance.

By incorporating Eco-Economic decision criteria into its purchase of energy efficiency measures HARBEC has been able to use “energy dollars” or those dollars which would have been spent on electricity (kWh) and gas (therms) from the utility toward high-value energy efficiency improvements. The result of this unique approach has been significant. HARBEC has been able to save hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy costs by offsetting what they would have paid for energy if they had not made Eco-Economic analytical choices on energy improvements.

 

Removing Obstacles and Reducing Risk

“The One-Stop Shop”

HARBEC has evolved to be a one-stop manufacturing solutions provider. We’ve done this to remove obstacles and reduce unnecessary risk for our customers.

The best way to control the quality, performance, price, and longevity of precision parts and components is to integrate all capabilities for part manufacturing under one roof. This model pushes risk to the manufacturer, which is mitigated by providing customers with differentiated values such as:

 

  1. Personal and facilitated process: Save time and cost by having the manufacturer proactively manage the full  process. This results in time savings, precise schedules, shorter lead-times, and faster cycle times.
  1. Manufacturing cost savings: by managing the full manufacturing queue; Take out unnecessary administrative costs and reduce the risk of cost overruns associated with multiple suppliers.
  1. Range of manufacturing options: Finding experts in both prototyping and production will provide  the best solutions to meet tolerance and quality goals for the full project.
  1. Integrated services and solutions: Incorporating “ad-ins” such as “moldflow analysis” on all production tool purchases, is a benefit. Many molders price such services out separately. Incorporation of software tools like SolidWorks Plastics enables the “one-stop shop” to reduce tool prices because toolmakers can more accurately predict tool performance. These solutions also provide a reduction of waste, time, and materials – resulting in higher performing and more sustainable manufacturing processes.
  1. No surprises and guaranteed value: Consistency through one quote, one price, and  guaranteed tool, part quality and performance is found under one roof. At HARBEC there are no surprises along the way. HARBEC guarantees our tool performance and part quality which also translates into guarantees on price and delivery.

 

To achieve lower risk for its customer HARBEC provides a range of options and simple solutions spanning the quoting process, part/product design, manufacturing, and value-added solutions.

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Reducing manufacturing risks are essential to achieving business growth and success. Although having a large number of suppliers is a way to diversify and mitigate risk, it is not necessarily the best solution for every product. The reliance and management of multiple suppliers can actually add cost and create unpredictable outcomes and unnecessary risks. Every manufacturing requirement and situation is different, and HARBEC has evolved to “right size” the solution(s) to your need(s).

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.

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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!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

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Machining Precision Parts Requires Impeccable Attention to Detail

Ultimately, success in machining requires a team of highly proficient machine operators, tool makers, designers, engineers, project managers, technicians, and operations managers all working together to continuously achieve high quality products consistently. While CNC machines may do the tough work of cutting hard metals to tight tolerances, these tools are only as good as the team of dedicated professionals that drive performance and results. Attention to detail is everyone’s job.

Harbec’s roots in CNC machining run deep. Founded in 1977 as a general-purpose machine shop, Harbec initially specialized in the quick-turnaround of difficult to make parts. Today we operate over 40 vertical mills, horizontal lathes, and EDM centers on three shifts, producing small to medium volumes of high precision parts for customers worldwide. Our team readily works with customers to improve the manufacturability of prototypes and production parts, always striving for the best balance of function, cost and delivery.

Harbec’s CNC Machining Solutions are built upon four decades of experience. Three primary values of Harbec’s CNC Machining include: Accuracy/Quality, Speed, and Knowledge/Expertise. Harbec’s CNC Machining group has the knowledge and expertise to produce difficult, highly complex, and tight tolerance parts. With a strong project management discipline and proactive communications with customers, Harbec works hard to make sure customer requirements are always understood. Harbec actively uses its manufacturing knowledge for customers’ benefits.  Whether it is one part or mid-volume production parts, Harbec’s experienced team always strives for delivering the highest quality part, quickly.

A commitment to continuously improve operational excellence through innovation while providing manufacturing solutions for customers is a necessity in today’s ever changing world. Recently our CNC Machining has expanded,  particularly to serve the needs of medical device customers. Harbec is investing in facility modifications, new equipment (CNC machines), and continuous training of its employees at all job functions to ensure a high level of quality and attention to detail is carried through to the customer.

Harbec has 21 dedicated inspectors and engineers that work collaboratively within every business group, manufacturing process, and individual within the company so that customers continuously receive the level of service they have come to expect. For example, some of our medical customers require 100% inspection of their parts on all dimensions with tolerances of +/- .001. Our knowledgeable staff have written and executed Installation Qualification (IQ), Operational Qualification (OQ), and Performance Qualification (PQs) for these customers. Harbec also implements specific process inspections, tools and technologies,  through an integrated team dedicated to quality. Tools including microscopic deburring and  a vision system/CMM are used in combination as part of a robust inspection program.

In addition, Harbec continues to actively pursue certification toward the ISO 13485 Medical Device standard, a customer-facing and internal goal to demonstrate our commitment to deliver the finest parts to our valued customers.

Precision Manufacturing Requires Specialized Software Tools

Harbec uses Solid Works as our main CAD (Computer Aided Design) software tool for product design, mold design, fixture design and basically every application we generate a 3D (3 Dimensional) model for. solidworkd logoYou may not be aware of the size, and scope, of its capabilities. Within Solid Works users have the ability to generate complex 3D models in solids, or surfaces, as well as generate detailed drawings, or electronic drawings, to communicate ideas efficiently. That is basically what every CAD program can do; nothing amazing there. The significant advantage of Solid Works, as a 3D modeling program, is that it utilizes parametric modeling as the basis for its design platform.

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HARBEC works from concept to completion.

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This product is a human powered generator.

Parametric modeling allows users to make changes easily, and more accurately, by setting boundary conditions at the beginning of the design process. Unlike traditional “dumb solid” modeling, the boundary conditions define the shape and form of a part. Here is an example: picture a calendar in your mind. Every calendar has a hole near the top from where it hangs. The location of the hole is typically in the center of the page and, for this example, lets say ½ of an inch below the top edge of the calendar. If we design a model of a 12” wide calendar, in Solid Works, we can define the location of the hole based on the parameters we just defined; center of the page and ½ of an inch below the top edge. We would actually use the midpoint of the top edge to define the hole’s position from left to right and add a dimension from the top edge to define its position from the top. Using Solid Works we can now create a new configuration for a 24” calendar with a simple change to the dimension that defines the width of the calendar. When we change the width from 12 inches to 24 inches the new calendar model updates to reflect the new width and still has a hole in the center of the calendar ½” from the top edge. No other modifications are necessary to reposition the hole. One simple dimension change and the result is a completely new design of the calendar.

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Better Water Maker hand cranked generator

This is an extremely simple example of how parametric modeling can be used, but think about the liberties it gives to designers. When designing a mold, the handling holes can always be located in the center of the A, or B plate, no matter what size mold is used. Ejector pins could be defined by features on the part, and if the part changes during the design process, the position of the ejector pin gets updated automatically. The possibilities are limitless but it takes a lot of time, and practice, to learn the most effective ways to define a part.

Within our engineering department we have over 45 years of combined experience with Solid Works and we are continually learning new features and techniques to improve our capabilities. Some of our engineers are becoming a Certified Solid Works Professional (CSWP). The CSWP certificate is offered by Solid Works and is only given to users who have proven their competencies, within Solid Works, by taking a comprehensive 3.5 hour test to demonstrate their knowledge.