Up until now, we’ve put our metal manufacturing in the capable hands of AeroDesign in Rosamond, CA. They’ve been awesome, beating schedules and improving processes with every chance they get - but my long-term goals for Spingarage mean grabbing onto every opportunity to build prototyping and production capability. That’s why we’ve moved our metal manufacturing in-house with a Shizuoka B-3V CNC mill and a Miyano BNC-34 lathe. And boy, what a ride it’s been!
Those familiar with these machines know that they’re heavy metal - they add up to about 16,000 lb. of new equipment on the shop floor - and they can do anything. The mill boasts an 18-tool carousel and a 30” table, which means I can set up a job and let it run for hours. The lathe offers a lightning-fast 12-tool combo gang/turret setup along with a collet-style hydraulic chuck - it can crank out any of the parts for our Kiel probe in under a 3-minute cycle time. Oh, yeah, it also has a parts catcher. That’s pretty cool.
So, what are we doing with all of this? Well, there are basically three objectives:
Build stock. With 3-minute cycle times, we can quickly crank out large volumes of our standard probes. We want to make sure there’s always product on the shelves to further reduce our lead times for customers that need it.
Develop and offer alternatives to our 3D-printed components. The first thing on the list is to add an option for billet aluminum vanes to our Featherweight Wireless and UAV probes. The existing versions will remain available - it’s important to me to keep these available at a lower price point for customers that don’t need the fanciness of billet aluminum.
Develop cool new stuff. With the ability to quickly and easily fabricate metallic parts in-house, I’m looking forward to building and flying a variety of new instrumentation that takes full advantage of this capability.
While these machines were a pretty big risk, I couldn’t be happier with how well they’re performing. Now that they’re dialed in, they are reliable and consistent workhorses that I can count on to make good parts. I can’t wait to bring more of their creations out for show-and-tell!