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Off-Topic: Machining Affordable One-Off Parts

March 2, 2009
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A custom design and fabrication firm that specializes in building unique parts and accessories for motorcycles improves its processes with a new computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) solution.

With VX, Cruzin’ Machine often can produce the desired custom part in less than a day. Source: Cruzin’ Machine


Suppose you are a motorcycle enthusiast and you want forward controls that look like a pirate’s cutlass because your bike has a buccaneer theme. Where would you go?

Enter Cruzin’ Machine (Knoxville, TN) and its computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) solutions. Owner Tim Kruse says, “VX CAD/CAM is truly my secret weapon. When a customer walks in with a photo or a sketch, VX allows me to do what a lot of CAD programs can’t do.”

VX, from VX Corp. (Melbourne, FL), a developer of CAD/CAM solutions for industrial designers, engineers and computer numerical control (CNC) programmers, enables fast design with fully integrated, accurate manufacturing. Using a hybrid modeling engine, engineers can take advantage of the speed of solids with the flexibility of Class A surfaces. Designers can create, modify, visualize, document and machine an array of parts and assemblies.

Kruse runs a small custom design and fabrication firm that specializes in building “art from theme images” of unique parts and accessories.

When a customer comes to Kruse requesting, for example, an air cleaner cover that looks like a dragon, Kruse responds quickly. Often he can produce the desired custom part in less than a day. Even better, Kruse manages to keep the cost of his creations “very reasonable,” considering that they are one-off custom parts.

Cruzin’ Machine is a small custom design and fabrication firm that specializes in building unique parts and accessories. Source: Cruzin’ Machine

Kruse imports the image directly into VX creating the base outline of the artwork. While he is doing that, he also thinks about how it is going to be used. For example, if a piece of Cruzin’ Machine art is going to be used as an air cleaner cover on a motorcycle, Kruse obviously has to allow for the screw or bolt holes where the cover attaches.

“I can import a template of the air cleaner and scale the overlying image with VX so it fits,” he says. Kruse’s artistic judgment plays a significant role in the process. He works his magic, adjusting the image, adding lines and contours so that function and form balance, becoming elements in the overall design. The result is a part that not only looks beautiful but also works well. Kruse uses VX integrated machining to create his parts, so that by carving different levels of contours, he creates a relief image in the metal that has a great deal more depth than a simple metal silhouette.

“Once the image is frozen, and the customer has approved it, I use VX to create NC code, which drives the machines to create the part exactly as the customer wanted it,” says Kruse. After machining, the part is polished and then can be finished with a wide variety of surface treatments such as chrome, copper or gold plating; etching; or powder coating.

“VX has allowed me to build high quality custom parts at competitive prices,” says Kruse. “Prior to VX, these projects took weeks to complete. Now I do them in hours. My goal is to make the next project even more awesome than the last, and VX lets me do that.”
    VX Corp.
    (321) 309-1006
    www.vx.com

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