Solving customer’s challenges is Tool Technologies’ strong suit.
To find the best, cost-effective solutions for your parts and product needs, we draw on our success in a wide range of industries, materials, technology, like waterjet cutting, and processes, like prototyping.
Read on to learn how we recently earned a patent and put our talent, resources and experience to work – to help Honda of America Manufacturing improve productivity.
In 2017, Tool Technologies by Van Dyke was granted a patent for developing a process and work station that raises efficiency of prepping metal parts for painting in manufacturing facilities.
Honda Motor Company, Ltd. and Starcke Abrasives USA, Inc., which makes sandpaper discs for hand-held sanders, share in the U.S. and European patents (U.S. 9,656,364 and European EP 2974828) with Tool Technologies.
The patented process and fixture enable sander operators to replace worn sanding discs without touching them. The system unloads and reloads sandpaper discs in about five seconds, saving significant time, compared to hand removal and replacement of discs, says Steve Van Dyke, owner and founder of Tool Technologies.
Associates on the paint line at Honda of America Manufacturing in Marysville came up with the request for the time-saving process, Van Dyke explains. They replace worn sanding discs numerous times during a shift. “They thought, wouldn’t it be great if we could remove the sandpaper without having to touch it with our hands?” Van Dyke said. “They didn’t have the answer for how to do it. They just had the question.”
Tool Technologies has worked with several Honda suppliers to solve engineering problems. One of them recommended Van Dyke and his team to develop the process and fixture.
“We’re known for innovative and rapid prototyping and product development,” Van Dyke said. “Some of our best customers – large and small companies – bring a problem to us, because we design quicker than they can design in-house.”
Tool Technologies developed prototypes for the patented work station aided by design software and waterjet machining systems that use highly pressurized streams of water and garnet sand to quickly cut through a wide variety of materials and thicknesses.
The development process took about three months, as Tool Technologies refined the work station in about 15 iterations before finalizing the concepts and design featured in the patent. Van Dyke said he aimed for simplicity. “So many designs are overly complex,” he said. “Simple design takes more effort.”
Honda’s legal team led the application process, while Christen Shore, a patent lawyer who is Tool Technologies’ in-house legal counsel, helped refine the application language.
Van Dyke, who led the design process, is credited on the patent as inventor, along with Cheryl Ann Ryan and Anthony Mudd of Honda and Jerry Douglas Horn of Starcke USA.
Benefits of the invention, Van Dyke says, include:
- Increased production time, as the work station replaces a worn-out sanding disc with new in about five seconds
- Prolonged life of sandpaper
- Improved dust control, as the holes and pegs of the fixture line up with holes in the sandpaper discs and the sander for optimal vacuum and debris removal
- Compact design that promotes easy, efficient use by hand sander operators and takes up little space – about two square feet – making it ideal for tight production lines