Building Slowly in Three Dimensions
Building a business is a slow, time-consuming process. And one that has to evolve over time. One of the largest, most popular video game companies in the world, Nintendo, started selling playing cards. Samsung, a major player in the electronics agency, began as a grocery store. There comes a time in every business’s growth that they have to make a decision on how to change with the times. It is another slow process that needs to be carefully gauged. Too soon and you may invest without a demand for the product; too late and the value of the service is too low in a saturated market. There is a third path to take. Experiment with small investments in similar technology to see the possibilities. Understand the pros and cons of the system you are considering and work out ways it can be profitable for your clients. This is the path that Able Tool traveled to their current location: printing and repairing parts with metal.
Based in the Queen City of Cincinnati, OH, Able Tool offers “individual parts/frames, multi-piece assemblies, or fully functional machines,…machining, fabrication, assembly, wiring, and production testing services” as a list of their services. Able has always used leading-edge technology to help the businesses in southwest Ohio develop new machines. Able Tool meets companies wherever in the process they are needed. They provide everything from initial prototyping services to rebuilding and repairing equipment for others to prosper. Fabricating and assembling machines and machine parts are well within their expertise. Printing parts, however, was a bold new idea. And to jump in with both feet would be an expensive risk they were not sure was going to pay off.
There were other ways to test what three-dimensional printing could accomplish. Able Tool invested in a small, crafters model to start their experimentation.The small plastic pieces they were making were low cost and low risk, and let them learn what 3D printing did, and did not, create. Once they had explored the limits of the materials and process, they took the next step in their journey. They invested in a professional grade printer, which they then used to develop cost-effective solutions for clients in places that metal parts were not necessary. It was not a service they advertised, but one that was offered when it was right for the client. It was just last year that they made the big leap.
We were happy to work with Abel to find the right machine for their move from plastic to metal. After their long exploration with plastics, we were able to help them find the Markforged Metal X 3D.This machine prints metal our of a plastic matrix, making the print process much more affordable and safer to workers. The ability to print with a variety of metals was perfect for the client-focused Abel Tool. They can choose the right metal for the job, whether it was a biomedical part or an airplane bracket. Through the use of this machine, they have attracted clients they may not have otherwise been able to help with traditional tool making processes. Able Tool has utilized this tool with projects around the office. Like with the plastic printing, Able Tool is exploring the edges of what they can do with 3D printing so they can offer the right services to their clients. They want to be sure that they can deliver the same high-quality products through printing that they have in the past.
Able Tool may not be going from playing cards to the Switch, but their business is embracing new technology. They have discovered new sectors they can serve in the process, expanding the possibilities for their business. Great businesses are built slowly over time, and Able Tool is poised to add the next layer to their history.