Global Fastener News

2013 FIN – The Next Big Thing in the Fastener Industry

February 25
00:00 2015

Tinnerman History of Innovation

September 10, 2013 FIN –  In 2007 A Raymond Tinnerman made a “significant investment” in its future.??The company put together a team of engineers, led by Todd Hemingway and Jason Reznar, to explore an emerging technology: additive manufacturing.
By 2008 the company had purchased its first 3D printer and by January 2009 A Raymond Tinnerman was utilizing the machine to make fastener prototypes. ??Within two years the company upgraded its equipment to an Objet Connex500, a significantly better machine that can make a part design from a combination of materials.
Almost immediately Hemingway, who is vice president of engineering, and Reznar, senior product development engineer, were amazed at what was possible.??”The quality of the parts was very high,” Hemingway told FIN.
In addition to quality, the process speed was significantly better.
Of course innovation is nothing new to A Raymond Tinnerman.
According to a 1947 Fortune Magazine article, Tinnerman changed the automotive industry with timesaving fasteners that didn’t need welding or riveting.
But Hemingway and Reznar believed they were on to something that could revolutionize manufacturing.
“There’s a lot of things you can do with 3D printers,” Hemingway, who directs the company’s advanced product creation and development center in Auburn Hills, MI, told FIN. “Anything can be built.”
“?And with many different materials. The Objet Connex500 can print models with up to 14 different materials in a single job, though A Raymond Tinnerman’s 3D printing effort specializes in polymer-based materials such as nylon, acetal and polypropylene.
Using those polymers, A Raymond Tinnerman can quickly print sample parts, tooling,  fixtures and gauges, and injection molds.
That kind of capability required a new approach to R&D.
When making a part with a 3D printer, no tooling is required so design restrictions don’t exist, allowing a company to “freely design parts.”  And the revolutionary process makes manufacturing ability studies obsolete.
“You have to unlearn how you’ve done things the past 20 years,” Hemingway told FIN.
But there is a dark side to all this technological advancement, Hemingway and Reznar explained.
Now anyone with a 3D printer can quickly copy a part another company spent months designing. This forces A Raymond Tinnerman and others to closely guard ideas until they are patented.
“Intellectual property and owning an idea is super-critical now,” Hemingway added.
Hemingway and Reznar learned the necessity of this new “cloak and dagger” approach firsthand.
They said early in their 3D process they had a customer – a “large international company” – take an original idea and patent it.
“That stings,” Reznar reflected.
But the fact remains: once a part is “out there,” it’s easy to copy – a problem that many fastener companies now grapple with.
And making parts is essential to A Raymond Tinnerman’s business.
“We don’t want to be in the role of technical experts that no longer make parts,” Hemingway said.
Thankfully there’s a growing need for their additive manufacturing expertise, which in addition to making a design quicker, can also save customers money – sometimes millions of dollars.
Hemingway and Reznar said they had a customer who had already invested $2.5 million in prototype tooling only to discover that the part wouldn’t work. So they turned to A Raymond Tinnerman for help.
Another customer – a Tier One automotive supplier – brought A Raymond Tinnerman a $2 part that was fully machined out of steel. The customer buys 35 million of this part and wanted to see if it could be made more efficiently.
So Hemingway and Reznar built an injection-molded prototype that is significantly lighter than its steel counterpart and would cost about twenty cents per part to produce.
“The customer spend goes from $70 million to $7 million,” Reznar explained.
That combination of weight and cost savings is catching the attention of the automotive industry.
Another benefit of additive manufacturing involves a reduction in resources.  Unlike stamping and other traditional processes, with 3D printing there is no waste, saving material costs and reducing resource consumption.
“You throw so much metal away to make small parts,” Hemingway told FIN.
Despite its progress with 3D printing – Hemingway says A Raymond Tinnerman is years ahead of companies who are just starting to realize they can make things a different way – both men see a lot of potential for the new technology to revolutionize the fastener industry.
“This technology will change how things are made for the next 50 years,” Hemingway asserted.  “This will revolutionize manufacturing.”
That comes from a guy with experience under his belt. Hemingway is a former General Motors engineer who’s been in the business for 23 years.
Prior to joining Tinnerman Hemingway served as director of international business development for DriveSol Worldwide.  He has also worked for the former Metalforming Technologies, now Global Automotive Systems.
He told FIN his job is to spot the “next big thing” in the fastener industry.??And he’s convinced that additive manufacturing is it.
“You ask yourself: ‘Can it really be this good?’ Actually, it’s better.”

A Raymond Tinnerman is headquartered at 1060 W. 130th St., Brunswick, OH 44212. Tel: 330 220-5100 or 800 221-2344 Fax: 330 220-5797  Web:  ©2013/2015 Fastener Industry News.
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