3D Printing Solutions: Designing and Manufacturing Electronics Housing Units for a Local Filbert Dryer

September 27, 2018

Larry Cummings is a busy man. He is one of the owners and a programmer at Primisys Computers & Networks, an IT service provider in McMinnville. In addition to that, he’s been working with the George Packing Company to streamline their hazelnut drying processes. With their sister company, Northwest Hazelnut, George Packing Company is the largest packer and processor of hazelnuts in North America. Fun fact: Oregon is the largest producer of filberts in the U.S., producing 99% of the nation’s commercial crop. It’s no wonder that the filbert was named the state nut in 1989.

Back to Larry. He was in the process of working on a solution for GPC and their hazelnut dryer. He had a need for housing units for some of the electrical components. Thinking about how he was going to get the parts he needed produced, it came to him: 3D printing would be the answer. Having worked with our sister company, NWUAV, he knew about us and our capabilities as a 3D printer and manufacturer.

He began his search online to see what 3D printers could offer him. What was included in the cost of getting a part made? Was the engineering included? Was it just the printing of the part? With so many unknowns, Larry felt it would be best to work with someone he could talk to and meet in person. We’re just a hop, skip, and a jump from the Primisys office, so he gave us a call. He talked to our engineer Ken. “When I initially called, he easily grasped the idea and made it happen,” Larry said.

The design for the electrical housing unit.

The design file for the electrical components housing unit.

The reason Larry decided to go the 3D-printing route: every potential solution he found online required him to make some type of modification. Even the housings sold by the maker of the electronics boards he was planning to use in the housing unit required alterations. “He had a custom requirement and we made it happen,” Ken shared. From those conversations, Ken got to work on the designs. As a result of our work together, we printed five different parts. Being that he needed a small production, 3D printing solved Larry’s problem, one that would otherwise have been much more costly and a potentially less usable. We were able to create a customized solution that met all of his needs.

The housing unit printed for the humidity monitor.

The housing unit for the humidity monitor. 

3D printing can be a foreign service to search out. The 3D-printing process is a little more involved than simply calling someone up or creating an online account for a website. There are many variables involved and many service providers expect you to already have your design files created. What are you to do if you don’t have a CAD file? How do you know if 3D printing is even the right solution for your problem? You could read through our handy introduction to 3D printing, specifically selective laser sintering, but that might not be enough.

Another view of the housing unit for the humidity monitors inside the dryer.

Another view of the housing unit for the humidity monitor.

Larry knew that for this project he wanted and needed a little more than a page where he could upload a design file he didn’t have. He was pleasantly surprised by the level of service he received. “One of the greatest parts was that they’re local and easy to work with. I can just come in and talk to them about changes needed. It's awesome. Ken has done an outstanding job and has really over delivered. The turnaround time was amazing and the quality was even better than I anticipated.”

If you’re still not sure where to start, give us a call! Let's talk about your custom needs and how we might be able to help. 

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