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T-Tech Machine’s Owner Designs Steel Molds Himself and Saves Overhead

Alibre Design Learned in a Matter of Weeks with no 3D CAD Experience

Many well-known technology products have some of their parts made by companies whose names you wouldn’t recognize. These specialized job shops, as they are called, run at maximum efficiency with highly skilled, hard working employees. The larger manufacturers rely on these trusted machine shops for key parts that are used to finish out their products.

T-Tech Machine, Inc., a Rhode Island machine shop that fits this description and is owned and operated by John Ficorilli, used Alibre Design to design steel molds that would be used to produce plastic clips for a computer manufacturer.

Next time you sit down at your computer, think about how many companies produced the parts that make up that hi-tech marvel. Maybe one of those companies was T-Tech Machine.

A New 3D Program or a New Hire

John received a large order from a customer in the computer industry for plastic clips in 15 different sizes. To fulfill this order, a steel mold would need to be designed for each clip size. T-Tech would design the plastic injection molds for the clips and manufacture the steel molds on its CNC machines. The molds would then be sent to Taiwan where the clips were being produced.

T-Tech had never designed steel molds for plastic injection molding, and they knew that more than hand drawn designs were going to be needed. John knew that he would need to learn a 3D CAD program or hire an engineer with 3D CAD experience. To stay competitive, job shops have to watch expenses and run lean operations. Most 3D CAD programs cost more than five thousand dollars, and an engineer would cost considerably more. The challenge would be to find a 3D CAD program that was powerful enough to design the mold, easy enough for John to learn it quickly and inexpensive enough to make it affordable.

Years of Hand-Drawn Designs

Over the years, John had hand-drawn all of T-Tech’s designs. Since T-Tech uses SURFCAM Velocity to machine parts, John tried to use it for design work. Because he didn’t use it often enough, he had to almost re-learn it each time he used it. John said, “I tried using several 3D products, but I didn’t have time to learn any of them.”

A 3D CAD Program that Takes No Time to Learn

Since John hadn’t found a 3D product that was easy enough to use, he searched online and found Alibre Design’s free trial. John said, “It was way easier to use than any other CAD program. I learned it in no time because it just made sense. Now that I know Alibre Design, I won’t use anything else.”

Alibre Design Saves You Clicks

When remembering his experience of evaluating other 3D CAD programs, John says, “Forget about the others. Alibre Design does everything I need; it is the easiest to use and the price is right!”

John says that Alibre is well designed and takes into consideration the user’s experience. He said, “With AutoCAD and other programs, you sometimes have to click three times to get something done. With Alibre, you click once, and it is done. That’s the way it should be, with fewer clicks making it easier and faster.” Some other things about Alibre Design that make John’s life easier:

  • Interoperability – T-Tech creates many 2D files, generating tool paths for the machining center. Those files are saved as DXF and imported seamlessly into Alibre Design. John’s customers also send him a variety of CAD files, and Alibre Design makes it easy to open and modify them before exporting them to SURFCAM for machining.

  • 3D PDF Publishing – John works with many customers who use a variety of programs. He sends them PDFs of his designs since everyone can view them for free with Adobe Acrobat Reader.

  • Design Re-use – Much of T-Tech’s business is repeat business. Being able to keep those customer files created in Alibre Design and reuse them on new projects for that customer saves T-Tech many hours of work.

  • Support – John said, “Alibre’s support is far better than support for any other product.” He said that Alibre support engineers respond quickly with helpful answers by phone or online, and the real-time responses save him much time. Additionally, Alibre’s My Support Incidents keeps a record of his questions and answers. If John forgets an answer, he can find it without looking through everyone else’s questions. John can also get answers based on users’ real-world experiences on the user forum.

The Result

With no prior 3D CAD experience, John learned Alibre Design in a matter of weeks and was able to design 15 steel molds and produce his customer’s plastic clips on time. John said, “If I hadn’t found Alibre Design, I would have had to hire someone with 3D experience. Not only did the software save money on its cost and the speed at which I learned it, but also it saved me the cost of an engineer.”

Now, John says, he uses Alibre Design all the time.

About T-Tech Machine, Inc.

T-Tech Machine, Inc. is a machine shop that specializes in custom-engineered products to meet specific needs for industries including computer, medical, telecommunications, military and aerospace. The company’s goal is to provide its clients with professional, timely and unsurpassed design and manufacturing service. JET COOL Heat Sinks, a division of T-Tech Machine, is a state-of-the-art facility that manufactures standard and unique heat sinks.