Hooked on Precision Machining

One shop has a line on new business, and its skills seem sure to hook new customers

It’s one thing to emphasize capital investments and technology updates, but every machine shop needs to make its capabilities and skills known to customers in a way that is immediately effective, honest, thorough, and memorable. MCR Machine Houston Inc. unlocked that puzzle.

The Houston machine shop, established in 2006, promises customers (and potential customers) an “old school dedication to craftsmanship combined with state-of-the-art equipment,” delivering precision machined parts on-time, produced with the latest CNC technology.

That’s a lot of detail – but the whole message is made clear in a novel way by a puzzle: eleven precision-machined pieces of Aluminum 6061 (held together by a single screw) that when assembled form a fish.

“We wanted to show the kind of complex parts our shop is capable of producing,” MCR Machine founder Michael Rodd explained. He noted that the original design was adapted from a woodworking project published in a hobby magazine more than 20 years ago.

Those designs were translated into CAD drawings using SolidWorks. The new plans became the basis for programming diagrams from a 1.25x1.25x6.125-in. piece of stock to produce each piece of the puzzle.

The shop has available a stable of vertical CNC machines, wire EDM cutting machines, and computerized and manual CMM systems. The fish puzzle is the physical evidence of all those resources, and the skill to program and operate them.

Rodd explained that the finished prototype (CAD work, programming, finishing the 11 pieces) was a 32-hour project.

Three complete sets have been finished, and four more blanks are ready to machine he explained. The fish puzzle won’t become a regular line of business for MCR Machine Houston – but it will be a memorable token that may hook potential customers.

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