Terry Wohlers, President of Wohlers Associates, and Chris Joest, President of Imperial Machine & Tool Co., were asked by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) to share insight on the state of Additive Manufacturing (AM) technology. Over the course of an hour, Wohlers and Joest covered many important topics including how AM technology currently "fits-in" to the traditional manufacturing world, the biggest challenges facing the 3D printing industry, and how AM technology will evolve in the coming years. See the full recording below:
Imperial was nominated for the U.S. Small Business Administration's "Subcontractor of the Year" award. We're proud to be 1 of 10 finalists in the nation, and honored to be chosen as the Region 2 winner.
We work hard every day to provide our customers with the absolute highest levels of quality and service, and we're thankful to all who help us every day.
One of our Hybrid Manufacturing projects (made in collaboration with Penn State's CIMP-3D facility) was featured in a Modern Machine Shop article about lightweight structures enabled via Additive Manufacturing.
The additively manufactured component reduced weight by 40%, while improving performance and durability.
A local robotics team reached out to learn more about Metal Additive Manufacturing. They visited our facility to see these amazing machines in action.
We had a wonderful time discussing the future of manufacturing and learning how the students use polymer Additive Manufacturing in the construction of their robot. We got some great pictures from the day, and captured some wonderful "curiosity" moments (especially once they got into the Metal AM lab). Click a photo to scroll through the gallery.
The Vortic Watch Company produces some of the most beautiful watches in the world.
They restore antique, American-made mechanical watch movements and house them in modern 3D Printed Titanium cases. The results are stunning, and we're proud to be their Metal Additive Manufacturing partner.
The Golden Age of Mechanical Watches
Many folks don't know it, but from the late 1800s through the 1950s America was the preeminent technology leader and producer of accurate, high-quality pocket watches.
This leadership position was fueled by the rapid expansion of the American railroad network and the growing need to keep accurate time. Train conductors relied exclusively on high-quality pocket watches to keep trains on schedule as they traveled across the country.
Thanks to innovative manufacturing technologies developed during the industrial revolution, high-quality watches were produced by the millions.
Even compared to modern Swiss-made mechanical watches, the movements manufactured during this "golden era" are truly outstanding.
The movements are of such high quality that even after 100 years many simply need a little patience from a skilled individual to make them run like new again.
Born from the Ashes
Unfortunately, pocket watches fell from popularity and many of these fine timepieces were cast aside and forgotten. Many watches were sold to jewelers for scrap value to recover the gold used to make the case. These orphaned mechanical movements were tossed into bins to collect dust, or worse, sent to the landfill.
That's where the story of Vortic Watch company begins.
Vortic is Born
The founders of Vortic thought it was a tragedy to see these fine American-made watch movements end up in the landfill. This spurred a simple business idea: Use modern manufacturing technology to make custom cases for these orphaned watch movements.
They made a few prototypes to validate their idea, and the watch enthusiast community responded very well.
Vortic officially opened for business in 2013, on a mission to preserve a piece of American manufacturing history while creating heirloom quality wrist watches that will survive the next 100+ years.
3D Printing Titanium Watch Cases
Vortic restores mechanical movements from nearly all of the great American watch companies. Consequently, they must manufacture cases for many different sizes, makes, and models of antique watches. This variability poses problems for traditional manufacturing methods.
Vortic needed a manufacturing method that was flexible enough to produce different case designs, at relatively low volume, at a competitive price. They found a solution in Metal Additive Manufacturing (AM).
Metal AM enables the fabrication of "infinite" designs on the same tool. The only thing that needs to change is the CAD file. Vortic can easily fabricate bespoke designs, even on the same build plate, and quickly implement design changes between batches.
Imperial manufactures all of Vortic's Titanium-printed cases right here in our Columbia, NJ facility. We're honored to play a role in preserving these fine mechanical timepieces from a golden age of American manufacturing.
Beautiful American Made Watches
It's hard to believe the beautiful and intricate machining on all these antique mechanical movements was carried out over 100 years ago. The level of craftsmanship is truly incredible, and was achieved by a skilled machinist using only manual machine tools.
Vortic is currently the only company in the world offering watches that are truly American made, down to every last spring, pin, and gear.
Tradition Meets Innovation
Vortic is preserving an important part of United States history. Their watches are proof that a truly modern and beautiful watch can be created while still honoring our manufacturing roots. These watches are once again heirlooms that can be passed down from generation to generation.
If you'd like to see more of Vortic's watches, you can find more information on their website www.vorticwatches.com