For busy businesses with small teams, leveraging technology is often the secret to staying competitive. This was the case for Accurate Machine – a family-owned machine shop in Norfolk, Virginia that’s been in business for almost 40 years. Phil Gurecki has practically grown up in Accurate Machine and took over the business in 2016 from his father, Phil Sr., and his uncle – the original founders.
As the leader of a small, four-person team, Phil is always looking for ways to be more efficient: “We utilize technology to the best of our ability.” While those in the industry can sometimes be hesitant to switch over to new technology, Phil aims to boost his shop’s productivity with the advancements available to him. One of the advancements he and his team has leveraged is 3D printing.
Accurate Machine mainly serves businesses in the private sector, such as those in the defense and medical industries. Much of this work is machining unique medium or small runs of plastic parts, many of which are prototypes. Many of these jigs, fixtures and general prototypes are ideal applications for 3D printing, and Phil knew the potential that 3D printing had for saving his team valuable hands-on time.
Before working with Duncan-Parnell, Accurate Machine had been exploring the potential of 3D printing and was even using an entry-level 3D printer for some applications. While that entry-level printer served as a good introduction to the technology, it didn’t always meet projects’ accuracy and strength requirements. When an industry colleague learned of Phil’s needs, he referred him to Carlton McFaden, Director of Additive Manufacturing Solutions at Duncan-Parnell.
After learning about Phil’s business and challenges, Carlton knew that the Mark Two from Markforged would be a great solution. Between the guidance provided by Carlton and his own diligent research, Phil quickly recognized the potential of the Mark Two to increase his company’s productivity and bring in new customers. Not only was the Mark Two capable of printing strong parts, but the addition of Markforged’s 3D printing software, Eiger, was another big draw.
Markforged’s 3D printers come equipped with Eiger at no extra charge. This state-of-the-art software is easy to use and empowers users to build extremely strong composite parts with targeted fiber reinforcement.
Thanks to Eiger and the quick setup of the Mark Two, Phil and his team were able to get up and running with little downtime. They were instantly impressed with the quality of parts. Phil compared the performance of his two 3D printers: “I don’t know if we even got one perfect print out of the other 3D printer we were using, but with the Mark Two we were able to get 100% successful prints right out of the box.”
One of the things that instantly drew Phil to the Mark Two was the capability to print strong parts. Accurate Machine had a specific application that required a strong part but couldn’t include metal since it was to be used in an MRI machine. Using the Onyx material laced with fibers made it possible to 3D-print a part that met the strength requirements. “I don’t know what other engineering plastic that you could make in this shape and have this strength”, said Phil regarding the part.
Phil and his team have gotten so much use out of their Mark Two by printing jigs and fixtures that they’ve even invested in a second Markforged printer, the Onyx Pro, to boost output. He’s been grateful for having Carlton and Duncan-Parnell as a resource for tips, material orders, and quick answers to his questions, “...although there is ample info on the internet it doesn’t replace having a go-to person,” said Phil.
If you’re hesitant to invest in new technology like 3D printing, Phil has some advice for you that he’s picked up since getting started with his Mark Two: “If you don’t have a 3D printer in your machine shop yet… you’ve got to have one. If you’re savvy with CAD, you can quickly model something up and have a working part the next day.” Phil and his team have found that investing in a 3D printer capable of printing strong and accurate parts has saved significant man hours and allowed them to increase their output without straining their small team’s bandwidth.