Page 19 - MetalForming-Aug-2018-issue
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 Roerig had patented for a motorcycle front suspension. “Tool-and-die design is an up-and-down industry—you’ll work 70 hrs./wk. then have three weeks off,” VanderWilp explains. “During down time, to stay busy we built a prototype
suspension system developed by Scott.”
The two purchased a CNC mill to make suspension parts,
built a prototype, and traveled to Big Dog, then an original- equipment builder of radical, high-end motorcycles. The plan was to license/sell the design.
“While the Big Dog team reviewed the concept, its engi- neering team described numerous issues with the company’s overseas fuel-tank producers, who were supplying wavy and leaky tanks. The wavy surfaces were expensive to smooth out and the leaks ruined expensive paint jobs,” says Van- derWilp. “As a result, Big Dog was on the hook for warranty work. Learning that we could fabricate sheetmetal, Big Dog took a big risk and gave us a purchase order for the fuel tanks. We made our first dies and pumped out fuel tanks in that pole barn. We never did sell the suspension, but without it we wouldn’t be talking to you right now.”
To this day, Roerig finds that experience surreal.
“We did make one stamping and we didn’t have time to include it with the prototype,” he recalls. “But we showed the stamping to the Big Dog engineering manager. His jaw dropped, as he didn’t believe we could produce such a part. A Big Dog team flew down in a corporate jet to our pole barn to check us out, and ultimately gave us the business... pretty exciting times.”
With Big Dog onboard, other motorcycle manufacturers quickly followed.
Capacity Needs Drove Press Purchases
Today, Envision Engineering boasts eight stamping press- es—including the December arrival—in capacities to 500 tons along with one three-axis and two five-axis laser-cutting machines and backed by other equipment that allows the
Envision Engineering co-owner Roerig’s custom bike shows off the company’s capabilities in producing deep-drawn fuel-tank shells, fenders and more.
company to perform all needed process- es inhouse. The exceptions are e-coat and powder coating. Those are per- formed by Grand Rapids-area partners.
“With our unique skill set and the equipment at our disposal, we not only design and build dies and pro- duce parts, but we also can work with larger OEMs and their tier suppliers on bridge builds and prototypes,” offers Roerig.
Expanding its hydraulic-press capa- bilities grew out of Envision Engineer- ing’s need to boost capacity.
“We were worried about our older presses breaking down and we could not afford downtime, so we began looking at new presses,” Roerig recalls. “Four years ago, we purchased a new Macrodyne 500-ton hydraulic press. Because it would be built nearby (in Concord, Ontario, Canada), we were comfortable with our selection, and Macrodyne has followed through with collaboration and customer service to
ensure that the press could do what we needed it to do.” Adds VanderWilp: “We can program the 500-ton press for needed tonnage and store recipes, and receive feedback from the press as to tonnage and shut-height needs based
This fender, along with fuel-tank-shell halves stacked to the left, are formed on a new hydraulic press. Envision Engineering draws parts to as deep as 13 in.
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