Testing the Future of 3D Printing

July 9, 2014

“Geoff Forester photograph, courtesy of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund”.

“Geoff Forester photograph, courtesy of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund”.

I had the chance to hear a fascinating talk by designer Francis Bitonti on the marriage of art and 3D printing. He has created a number of unique designs as 3D printed objects – from bicycle racks for New York City to a 3D printed dress. He is a true visionary who can see the potential for unleashing 3D printing as a game changing technology in the world of design and fashion. Not making toys, but real works of art. He’s put his money where his mouth is and designed a number of household accessories with 3D printing in mind. Unlike many designers and artists, the extent of his design IS the design. He does not produce the products. He makes the design available for you to make on your 3D printer. He operates his design website like a download service. For a small fee (in our case, $1.00), we downloaded his design for a small bowl. We loaded the design file into our MakerBot 3D printer, and 9 1/2 hours  later, had an original Francis Bitonti bowl in our hands. A little clean up and a can of metallic spray paint and we had a three dimensional accessory available nowhere else except through the mind of Francis Bitonti and a desktop printer!

 

Bitonti bowl close up Bitonti bowl

Graphicast Receives International Recognition for its “Big Data” Project

May 2, 2014

Jaffrey, NH – Global business consulting firm Frost & Sullivan’s Manufacturing Leadership Council honored 100 world class manufacturing companies and individual leaders, including Graphicast of Jaffrey, New Hampshire, as winners of the 2014 Manufacturing Leadership Awards (ML Awards).

In a world of intensifying global competition and accelerating change, recipients of the ML Awards have distinguished themselves by embracing breakthrough innovation and enabling their companies to anticipate and respond to customers with unmatched agility.

Now in their tenth year, the Manufacturing Leadership Awards honor companies and individuals that are shaping the future of global manufacturing. Nominations were in nine categories for outstanding projects undertaken and completed by a manufacturing company, and were evaluated and scored by a panel of expert judges. Two categories recognized the achievements of individual manufacturing leaders.

Although a small company by industrial standards, Graphicast has been a pioneer in the use of detailed analysis of manufacturing and operations data to improve revenue and reduce costs. “Big data” refers to the massive amounts of information that many companies have collected on their operations that, until recently, was difficult to analyze effectively. New data analysis software, now available to even the smallest companies, makes this data come alive, providing rich and meaningful insight into the company’s operational trends and direction. Graphicast coupled data analysis with business optimization software, which allows the company to determine the most profitable path to grow the company and improve performance. The mathematics of optimization methods grew out of the necessities of World War II and garnered a Nobel Prize in Economics for their developer.

Graphicast also won an ML100 award in 2009 for its work on improving shop floor scheduling and work flow.

Manufacturing Leadership Award winners and their technology partners will be honored on June 5 at a gala celebration that follows the tenth annual Manufacturing Leadership Summit in Palm Beach, FL, a unique gathering of manufacturing leaders from around the world. The theme for the 2014 Summit is “The Next Industrial Revolution: What Will Your Company Look Like in 2030?”

Interesting Turn to the Economy

January 22, 2013

“Geoff Forester photograph, courtesy of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund”.

We run a sales forecasting model every month to try to predict how we’ll do for bookings one and two months out.  Our model is a neural network model based on company performance, econometric data, and market trends. This type of model uses years of historical information to try to develop predictive trends. We run the model multiple times to get a range of predictions. Sometimes they are tightly grouped, and other times, they can bounce around. This happens even though the same data are used. When things bounce around, there are usually conflicting data. Data that usually move together begin to come apart. That’s what happened in December. Good econometric information was clashing with negative emotional measures and the predictions bounced back and forth between dismal and pretty good. The real, numerical data was showing  growth, but people were still negative on the economy.

We were expecting that the emotions would begin to turn to mirror the numbers, and that began to happen in January. Prior to January, most of of our bookings had been from recently added customers, seemingly unaffected by the slow economy, while our legacy customers, more affected by the economy, were not ordering. That changed in January. We began to see orders from companies who had been dormant for the past few years. Additionally, the newer customers started ordering larger quantities of parts. This is beginning to feel more “normal”, if such a term can describe our post recession economy. In any event, we’re enjoying the change. Hopefully, it will continue. Maybe the forecasting model will start showing more stable numbers and operate as if the world has returned to a more predictive mode.

A Video Interview with Kirk Barrett on the Economic and Design Value of Graphite Permanent Mold Castings

June 20, 2012

Our sales manager, Kirk Barrett, was interviewed at the Design 2 Part Show in Marlborough, MA.  Kirk speaks on the benefits of graphite permanent mold castings.  Interview with Kirk Barrett.

Get a Quick Cost Estimate with Graphicast’s “Ballparker’ Application

May 31, 2012

“Geoff Forester photograph, courtesy of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund”.

Graphicast has added a new feature to our website – the Price Ballparker. This tool will give you a quick estimate of the cost of a machined casting just by entering the volume of your part, the estimated production lot size, and then comparing your part to photos of easy, moderate, and difficult to machine parts. That’s it. The Ballparker tool determines these costs based on mathematical modeling of the various production steps of thousands of production runs of parts at Graphicast. We’re able to give you a reasonable estimate of costs just by entering the information and comparing your part to the most similar part in our model. If your part is considerably smaller or larger than the parts shown, the model is less accurate. Just go to the Engineering and Design pull down menu to access the estimator. Please contact us with any questions you may have or if you want us to look at your part in more detail for a more accurate quotation.

Graphicast Castings Get a Clean Bill of Health

March 2, 2012

Graphicast recently put a large sample of machined castings through an x-ray testing procedure. A third party laboratory  measured the castings against the same standards used for critical components in jet engines and other aircraft applications. The results? A clean bill of health! Take a look at the x-rays yourself. These results clearly show that the Graphicast LTA graphite mold casting process produces extremely dense, low porosity castings. Although these casting aren’t going into a jet engine, they could.

X-rays of Graphicast LTA castings

Something Good is Happening in Manufacturing

November 30, 2011

“Geoff Forester photograph, courtesy of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund”.

Graphicast just closed the books on the incredible month of November 2011. Our shipments were among the five best months in the last 10 years, and our bookings exceeded our previous best month by over 35%! Our backlog is at its highest level in five years and we’re running 7 days per week. We’re planning a plant expansion, and we can’t get equipment in fast enough as far as we’re concerned.

We’re hearing similar stories from other companies in the state. Although unemployment remains high and the overall economy is slowing growing, there is a major expansion underway in some parallel economy that’s not showing up in the normal data. One explanation is that the manufacturing economy is driven by global economics, not national economics. As there are parts of the world nicely expanding, those of us in manufacturing are expanding as well. I wonder what things would be like if the US economy really took off?

We’ve crossed the ISO 9001 finish line. Now the work begins.

July 26, 2011

“Geoff Forester photograph, courtesy of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund”.

We just successfully completed our Stage 2 ISO 9001:2008 certification audit . Our auditor’s findings will next go through a technical review by other auditors, and we should receive our registration information within four to six weeks. We managed to complete the entire process in just under a year, which is a credit to Dave Gregory, our quality manager, and the entire Graphicast team. Our employees embraced the process and the concepts of a formalized quality system from the start. Now that we’ve reached this point, the challenge of maintaining and improving the system remains in front of us. We’re looking forward to this next phase of the ISO 9001 journey.

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