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"Econotruder" Contest Winner Case Study

Model Wins 2009 Alibre Design Contest

Indiana-based extrusion engineer Keith Lindner (www.3dstudioproductions.com) found himself in the position many others are facing right now: deciding how best to maximize his efforts during the suffering economy. The core of Keith's business is extrusion engineering services, specializing in process and product improvement, engineering and tooling design. The current economic slowdown has given Keith the inspiration to also begin offering mechanical design services, from creating machine-shop-ready mechanical drawings to precision 3D mechanical animations and photo-realistic product and machine visualizations.

Keith has spent the last 20 years in the profile extrusion business. He began using CAD back in 1998, honing his skills with AutoCAD, Pro/E, and SolidWorks. When it came time for him to break out on his own and start a company, he looked for an affordable parametric 3D CAD system and found Alibre Design Expert.

From Online to the Assembly Line

Keith's two decades of experience coupled with the power of Alibre Design Expert led to his first complete design - an extrusion machine taking advantage of off-the-shelf components for ease of assembly and cost efficiency. Modeling every single aspect of the machine over several months, Alibre Design Expert gave Keith the part design visualization needed to create realistic panels and wiring controls.

Keith created the pillow block bearings from dimensional data and product illustrations found on the McMaster Carr website. "Part of the design process is that I can make a part exactly how I want it and Alibre Design allows me to edit my parts easily," he said. His goal was to design a machine that he could possibly be fabricated in a workshop using as many off-the-shelf components as possible. This includes not only hardware but the shafting, bearings, bushings, pulleys, belts, temperature controllers and electrical driving components. Many of the parts needed to build the Econotruder could be ordered online and assembled in a few weeks.

"What Alibre really gave me was the ability to create it with absolute dimensional certainty. The reason I purchased Alibre Design was because it is an affordable 3D program that was dimensionally perfect: Pro E and SolidWorks were just too expensive and I was looking for the perfect mix of power and cost effectiveness," Keith continued. "Over previous versions, the Drafting in Alibre Design 11 has improved greatly as has the program's ability to handle larger assemblies. Performance is a lot better in sketch mode too. It fulfills all the needs I have."

Keith considers the Econotruder to be in the light to medium duty class of extruders. Companies that can't afford a name brand extruder, or that wouldn't trust the quality of a used extruder, may find this machine very attractive. The Econotruder is designed to run continuously or on short runs and can extrude parts comparable to other 2" single screw extruders.

Since he has vast experience in the vinyl fencing industry, Keith plans on building his first Econotruder so he can begin extruding vinyl fence accessory profiles.

Econotruder wins 1st Place

After finalizing the design, Keith took the opportunity to participate in the 2009 Alibre Design Contest. Keith's submission immediately got a lot of attention on the user forum for the level of detail and excellent modeling of his design. This would eventually carry his design into the finalists of the contest, and by user-choice he received the first place spot, and a $1000 prize.