Here’s an interesting service from an outfit in my old stomping grounds.
Rapid Sheet Metal in Nashua, NH – the number 9 state with the highest concentration of high-tech jobs according to the Bay Area Council Economic Institute – has released SolidQuote for Creo, an add-in for PTC Creo that lets you cost out and even submit an order for sheet metal parts instantly. They also have a version of the program for SolidWorks 2012/13 and, if you have some other CAD system, you can still submit an RFQ (request for a quote) online and get your return bid in less than a day. Here’s the skinny.
So, the way you should cite Rapid Sheet Metal in your digital Rolodex as a company is to make the analogy with a 3D printing service bureau. Only these guys make prototypes and short-run parts and assemblies with materials like stainless steel, cold rolled steel, copper and aluminum instead of thermoplastics. For good measure, Rapid Sheet Metal has a pair of sister companies that provide quick turnaround (CNC) computer-numerically controlled machined and turned prototype parts as well as rapid prototyping of wire harnesses and cable assemblies. Some other day we’ll get to talk about them. For now, you’ll find links to these sister services in today’s Pick of the Week write-up.
Anyway, Rapid Sheet Metal has capabilities like laser cutting, forming, welding, machining, punching, wire EDM, roll forming, powder coating and silk screening. They have registrations for things like ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations), RoHS compliant plating, aerospace application welding (AWS D17.1) and Central Contractor (CAGE code).
It appears that they are undaunted by orders for unique prototypes. Take a look at that image up there or the first image in today’s Pick of the Week write-up if you’re reading the text version of this message. Pretty neat. Now add in that they can quote you a price in less than a day if you submit it online, or faster if you use SolidQuote. So my guess is that they can handle your brackets, cabinet assemblies, chassis, enclosures, housings, panels, racks, RF shields and weldments well.
But back to the instant quotes from SolidQuote for Creo. This is a complimentary (and fast) download. No registration required getting it, so tinker with it anonymously. SolidQuote embeds itself into PTC Creo without making you fuss around entering stuff you’re not sure about. It’s just there in the Application Tab waiting for you.
To begin building an RFQ, what you do is open a sheet metal part and call up SolidQuote at any time. You pull down menus to select your material, finish and quantity. SolidQuote for Creo automatically takes this information, applies it to your design and then identifies and prices out features such as hems and hardware in real time. And these price numbers, according to the company, are real, up-to-the minute accurate.
Once you have completed those steps, you hit “add to quote,” and you’ve built an RFQ for your part. You can keep working your way through the parts in an assembly to build a multi-part RFQ. When done, you send the RFQ to Rapid Sheet Metal for verification and to yourself in PDF form for backup. (From today’s write-up, you can download a mock-up of the form you send yourself.) Now all you need to do is finalize the deal, meaning that the form you created is really more of an intent to order form than an RFQ.
Let me add that if you decide you need a different material or more prototypes, you can adjust these properties from the account you set up when you submitted your first quote. Also, the SolidQuote for SolidWorks application works the same way as its PTC Creo complement.
The neat thing about either version of SolidQuote is the real-time aspect. This lets you play with materials, finishes and even quantities to see what these kind of changes will do to your checkbook balance at any time during design. And you can begin figuring in pricing from the earliest stages of your design.
OK, say you’ve agreed to the deal. What’s next? Well, Rapid Sheet Metal says that parts typically ship in seven or eight days. They also have a 24- to 48-hour expedite service if you’re in a huge rush.
And that’s Rapid Sheet Metal, SolidQuote for Creo and SolidQuote for SolidWorks in a nutshell. There’s more in today’s Pick of the Week write-up on things like capabilities, typical parts they’ve fabricated and the like. You’ll find a link to video library showing you SolidQuote in operation. Still, the thing to do is hit the link and download SolidQuote for Creo or SolidQuote for SolidWorks and take it for a spin. Good stuff.
Thanks, Pal. — Lockwood
Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering
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