|Rapid Tooling's 13 CNC machines enable it to meet its goal of providing the industry's fastest tooling turns. |
In a fast-paced world, the word "rapid" may sound like music to some ears. Rapid Tooling, Inc. was created 20 years ago to address the challenges faced by engineers and managers in printed-circuit-board (PCB) assembly and semiconductor packaging, and its rapid responses have been music to their ears since 1994. As any manufacturer can testify, matching exact tooling to a particular set of needs can eliminate setup variations, reduce changeover times, and defects, and provide the ultimate prize of bringing a quality product to market. As an outsource provider of sustaining and transparent engineering services, Rapid Tooling credits its many milestones to its employees and astute management. In terms of milestones, 2014 marks the company's 20-year anniversary. But in looking back, many questions remain, including whether the business strategy has changed over the years, whether it will continue evolving, and what main goals remain to be accomplished.
When Dion Castro and Dee Claybrook founded Rapid Tooling in 1994, the original idea was to offer sustaining engineering design services as an outsource service. Initially, they would design the projects and take the data on floppy disk to local machine shops to manufacture. The two made it a point to always pay cash in advance, allowing them to rise in priority at those machine shops. But practical considerations took priority and led to the creation of Rapid Tooling. The two founders realized that they needed captive machining capability to meet customer deadlines, and so took the plunge. Currently, Rapid Tooling has 13 computer-numerically-controlled (CNC) machines and a lathe center that all operate 24 hours a day and 7 days per week. Rapid Tooling is a reliable resource for manufacturing and product development needs, and can deliver product when needed. Same-day and 24- or 48-hour turnarounds are not unusual, depending upon material availability and finish requirements.
Dion Castro is Rapid Tooling's chief engineer and directs a staff of designers who are producing tools used by semiconductor and electronics manufacturers, military contractors, consumer electronics manufacturers, energy companies, aviation and medical companies. The company has substantial production projects, and continues to add capabilities in equipment and software. Castro and Claybrook, along with their partners, continue to develop tools for handling substrates in JEDEC trays for simultaneous processing, radome designs, light-emitting-diode (LED) projects, and down-hole energy instruments. The company also plans on offering additive or three-dimensional (3D) printing capabilities in the near future.
In 2013, Rapid Tooling received International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) certification, allowing it to be more active in military projects. A most substantial milestone, however, was receiving ISO 9001.2008 certification, which has helped build many original-equipment-manufacturer (OEM) relationships for the company's transparent manufacturing model. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) process enabled the company to systemize its business practices, improving customer responsiveness. In addition, the ISO process helped develop internal business metrics. By closely monitoring its internal business metrics, it can effectively measure performance and continuously improve services.
Services & Capabilities
Rapid Tooling is a combined CNC machine shop/design and prototyping center. As such, it specializes in design and tooling for manufacturing. It also can manage short-run, fast-turn sheet metal requirements. The company's engineers and designers can help in many areas. For example, if a customer has existing drawings, they can machine the parts or if a customer has a basic design but would like to have it critiqued or if they need design assistance but want to coordinate machining elsewhere, Rapid Tooling can help. The company's main goal is to assist in any way possible.
The company also offers sustaining engineering services as an outsource provider. In collaboration with customers, the company can take a concept to implementation in a very short time frame. It also provides PCB fixtures for solder paste printing, component placement, and dispensing applications. It even offers solder pallets, semiconductor wafer process tooling, router fixtures for depanelization, coordinate-measuring-machine (CMM) fixtures, prototyping models, and placement feeder refurbishment. The company tries to provide what customers require in the shortest time possible.
Many CNC-capable, ISO-registered machine shops focus on volume machining and avoid the short runs and costly setups. Rapid Tooling has volume capability, but the company focuses on quick-turn/low-to-medium-volume manufacturing. Its process uses the latest computer-aided-design/computer-aided-manufacturing (CAD/CAM) automation software, which enables its designers to create a concept and begin machining parts in a very short time. If a customer is in product development, the company can assist in manufacturing functional mockups in either metal or plastic. Rapid Tooling designers will provide 3D drawings when required (and can provide viewers). The company can simulate many parts that will ultimately be die-cast or injection molded, allowing the designs to be tested before making further investments in molds. Complex contours and thin features are not a problem for these state-of-the-art software packages. Rapid Tooling can coordinate all the requirements of any product; including machining, coating, silkscreen, wiring, component procurement, and assembly. The company also offers prototyping that uses 3D printing. By acquiring the use of Objet Polyjet technology, Rapid Tooling can help their customers to market faster without sacrificing quality.
Rapid Tooling attempts to deliver according to a customer's needs and not its own schedule, using the motto "Tooling when you need it." Since 1994 Rapid Tooling has strived to achieve the fastest response time possible. The company's customer base is worldwide and it sees tremendous growth in North America, Europe, India, and Latin America. During 2014, it forecasts that growth will continue in the same areas but feel that Europe and Latin America will be most likely to emerge during the coming year.
This 21st year of business is exciting for the company. In addition to new capabilities added last year, plans are in place to continue upgrading throughout 2014. Plans for 2014 include adding high-speed spindle machining centers with high repeatable accuracy and adding to the company's software in an effort to produce tooling for customers in the shortest times possible. It is also likely that more personnel will be added to a growing staff. Plans also include adding captive plating and sheet metal fabrication capability. During 2014, Rapid Tooling expects to continue doing what it does best: delivering quality service in the fastest time possible.
Contact: Rapid Tooling, Inc., 2605 Technology Dr., Suite 360, Plano, TX 75074 972-633-8872 fax : 972-633-3784 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: http://www.rapidtool.com