Ironwood Manufacturing uses Alibre Design to create custom architectural restroom partitions
Life in the modern age is defined by architecture and design. New building materials and the advanced use of stone, wood and masonry accent all our homes and commercial buildings. But, as all of us know public restrooms haven't changed much since the 1950's with the advent of steel bathroom stalls. One company is changing the rules and is getting noticed for their innovative custom toilet partitions. Ironwood Manufacturing of Snohomish, Washington uses Alibre Design and Alibre CAM to create and manufacture some of the world's finest bathroom designs with artistic flair.
Trey Clasen, owner of Ironwood Manufacturing says, "it's ingrained in the architectural and design community that steel bath room partitions are all there is." Since 1990 he has been working to change that by selling custom architectural restroom partitions through a network of dealers that service the architectural market. Combining the power of computer aided design, cutting edge materials such as phenolic plastics, and CNC routers, Ironwood is helping to bring class to the once stagnant industry.
The inspiration to create this new product line came from custom cabinet makers, who at one time offered only prebuilt off-the-shelf solutions. This industry has seen a boom in customization with the help of CAD and specialized CNC machines. Mr. Clasen asked, "Why can't that happen in the toilet partition industry; you pick your material, color, model, fixture, and door style of your custom toilet stall." Working on new shapes and contours that have gone way beyond the typical square door, these architectural details are gaining ground in the industry. Not only do advanced materials offer new patterns and colors never seen before in public restrooms, it also opens another market for Ironwood ~ advertising. With advances in laminate printing technology Ironwood can imprint their corporate logo or branding message to, shall we say, a temporarily captive audience.
THE DESIGN PROCESS
"The area where I have spent a lot of time are design hotspots like Seattle and Orlando where plastic laminate users are in," says Mr. Clasen. 99% percent of the time the plans are specification driven. Architects and designers want to be able to pick from a variety of styles, which Ironwood has aptly named Olympic, Cascade, Rainer and St. Helens after the beautiful mountains in the Pacific Northwest. "But if we can get involved early we can make suggestions," added Mr. Clasen. The design process used to start out on old fashioned paper, sometimes even requiring full size patterns for new and different shapes. To build a strong lineup, Ironwood needed to repeat them consistently; this led to their search for an affordable, efficient solution.
ALIBRE DESIGN AND CAM FITS THE BUILD
Ironwood's 1st machine was a CNC router by Omni TECH and for this they needed a good 3D software package. The company went looking for the right mix of power and affordability. What they found were packages that Mr. Clasen labels as "fairly to extremely expensive." Most of what they found was the standard cabinet and wood working CAD programs, specifically built for the custom cabinet industry. While emulating this business concept would work for Ironwood in the market, using software only engineered for the cabinet industry would not cut it in the design arena. Mr. Clasen said, "With those products if you do something different or go off the page, it won't work." In most cases you couldn't get a free trial; the sales reps have to come and show you how the software works. Mr. Clasen added, "You see the demo and the rep makes 3 clicks of the mouse and they're done. When I tried to do it took 90 clicks." So a friend of Mr. Clasen who already owned Alibre Design showed him the system. He got the free trial and was off to learn Alibre Design 3D CAD from the ground up. "My frustration was I started from zero, and my learning curve was extremely steep." Even speaking the vocabulary of 3D CAD was a learning experience when it came to the software. Ironwood wanted to make truly custom units, so they learned it the right way- using the Alibre Design training videos and the help of Alibre Technical Support department. Mr. Clasen states, "The advantage of using Alibre Design is I've got total freedom to design anything. Coming up with a concept that I can create and build has opened new horizons."
IRONWOOD IN THE MARKET
Trey Clasen has grown Ironwood from a family business of 35 years into a national player in the industry, using cutting edge materials and a national dealer network to bring their products to market. Ironwood prides itself on their capacity to build stalls, focusing on "the know how to build custom partitions" that fit the needs of architects and designers. Averaging sales between 5000 to 7000 stalls per year to companies, government institutions and sports arenas, Ironwood finds that most of the cost in the industry is in the transportation of the building materials to the job site. With new materials like phenolic plastics that have a smaller environmental footprint than alternatives mated together with cutting edge designs, there is a breath of fresh air in the toilet partition industry. Ironwood is ready for the future, customization is the key, and as Mr. Clasen says, "there is a boom in beauty."
About Ironwood Manufacturing
Ironwood Manufacturing was established in 1972 in the Seattle Washington area to service a growing need for low cost, aesthetically pleasing, toilet partitions as an alternative to metal stalls. www.ironwood-mfg.com Phone: (360) 568.1823. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
About Alibre, Inc.
Alibre is the leading global provider of cost effective professional grade mechanical CAD, CAM, and PDM solutions. Founded in 1997 and based in Richardson, Texas, Alibre develops Alibre Design and Alibre CAM, the fastest growing parametric CAD/CAM solution on the market. One fifth the cost of comparable software, Alibre Design offers the same core features of SolidWorks, Pro/E, Inventor, and other mid-range solid modeling packages at a cost that is affordable to any business or individual. Alibre CAM extends Alibre Design to provide integrated 2 ½ to 5 axis CNC machining. Used by an immensely diverse user base, Alibre Design and Alibre CAM provide design and manufacturing solutions to Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, consulting firms, machine shops, start-ups, hobbyists, inventors, teachers and students. Alibre products are distributed in 50 countries and in 15 languages.