Before Metal Shop, I had little exposure to machining and machine/fabrication shops. True, my Grandfather owned Liberty Machine Company of Paterson NJ but that was the late 1970’s and I was very young. My re-introduction came via good timing. While looking to have some welding done I meet a local machinist (since the welder couldn’t do the job). If that chance encounter didn’t happen, Metal Shop wouldn’t be turning out unique machined metal products today.
Developing a product is no easy task, whatever the product may be. Many of us have great ideas, very few actually end up bringing those ideas to market. The most important component is finding the right production partner. One that not only can fulfill your orders but also understands the vision for your brand and its product line. Sure some people actually have the talent, skill and equipment to manufacture on their own. But what happens when demand outgrows the ability to supply? Bottom line, a trusty, competent partner is vital to being successful.
I walked into Dickson Product Development on a whim. I had worked with other fabrication shops in the past, but I was looking to make a change. Right away I knew I had found the right fit. First I met Dick, the owner, an “old timer” with a wealth of knowledge and experience. I knew right away that Dick would understand the vision of making modern versions of vintage inspired products (and heck, may even come up with some good ideas from his younger years). Next, a quick tour around the shop. They had the right equipment and the place was spotless! (A key sign, clean and organized!)
Here is a quick tour around the shop where Metal Shop makes its vintage inspired products with a modern touch.
A manual Bridgeport milling machine. A staple in the machining business for almost 100 years. Founded in Bridgeport CT in 1938, the brand became famous over the following decades for its small to medium sized vertical milling machines. The Bridgeport has become such a standard in the industry that the term “Bridgeport” is often used to refer to any vertical milling machine regardless of make. This particular machine is the primary milling machine used to fabricate prototypes at the shop.
A Compumill CNC. Computer Numerically Controlled machines are used for production of products. CNC machines, like this Compumill, are automated milling devices that make industrial components without direct human assistance. They use coded instructions that are sent to an internal computer. This allows factories to fabricate parts accurately and quickly.
Much like the Bridgeport milling device used for prototypes in picture 1, this lathe is used to manually “turn and bore” metals to develop prototypes. In this process (which is how we developed the Twist Bullet Pencil prototypes) the raw materials are inserted in the chuck to hold them in place. They then spin as the cutting tool is manually applied. A lathe like this can be used to accomplish many things besides turning and boring. A few examples of the capabilities include grooving, drilling, knurling and threading.
The Hitachi-Seiki CNC lathe. Once prototypes are developed they are moved to this machine for production. Once programmed this CNC lathe takes care of all the processes at once. Multiple tools on the machine head can turn, drill and thread the material to create a product. This is the machine that both created the tubes and the bullets for the Twist Bullet Pencil.
A nice close up shot of the control panel on another Hitachi-Seiki CNC lathe. Lots and lots of buttons and knobs!