Symmetrix Composite Tooling was awarded the Non-Traditional Apprenticeship Development Grant by the Governor’s Workforce Board of Rhode Island. With the help of Apprenticeship Rhode Island, Symmetrix is designing an in-house workplace development program that will include both in-house and off-site instruction.
As the grant outlined, “considered to be outside of the skilled trades, Non-trade apprenticeships are increasingly being recognized as effective pathways towards careers that offer family-sustaining wages and pathways from entry level to middle skilled or professional careers. The Apprenticeship model is now being utilized around the country in non-traditional occupational areas.” Our non-traditional application is composite tooling. The craftsmen at Symmetrix must have competency in both digital fabrication on a large scale as well as old school composite tooling techniques. Through collaborations with our vendors, local trade schools, industry associations, and instruction from our in-house experts, Symmetrix craftsmen will have in-depth education in all aspects of our production process.
“The program has two goals. The first is to develop our team of craftsmen so we can better support our customer. The second is to show a pathway of advancement to our team members based on knowledge, skill, and repetition,” says John Barnitt, Symmetrix President.
The grant from the Governor’s Workforce Board of Rhode Island will go towards writing the program’s curriculum. Symmetrix hopes to have the program up and running by fall.
Please help us in welcoming Steve Dennis to the team of Symmetrix Composite Tooling as Shop Manager. Steve has spent a lifetime behind the tools at various boatbuilders around Rhode Island. He comes to us with a vast experience of fiberglass work and a strong, authoritative tone. He has quickly fit in as a welcome resource, keeping track of the many jobs moving through the shop. While we gave him is own office and promised we wouldn’t make him get his hands dirty, he can’t help but jump in where needed.
Steve’s hiring allows for Sean Lane to advance to Operations Manager. Symmetrix works to stay in the forefront of pattern and mold technologies. Sean’s new position allows him to research new technologies, materials, and methods for Symmetrix to keep improving.
The World’s Largest Surfboard is also our Most Documented Project. Management took a trip out west in January for the premier of this documentary. Reports are that “I’ve never looked better or sounded more intelligent.” If that’s not a reason to keep an eye out for the release, I don’t know what is.
When Symmetrix Composite Tooling shapes a job, it eventually takes a recognizable shape. It could be the deck of a boat, or the root end of a wind turbine, or maybe the inverse of bus body, but eventually, it’s a recognizable carved shape. One of the more interesting jobs this year, a fiberglass architectural surface, looked like, well, I’m not sure I could put a word to it.
Which is probably a good thing, considering the secrecy surrounding the job. Symmetrix was contacted by an architect in early 2015. He had designed a modern house with lines that mimicked the surrounding dunes. Traditional building methods would not work. Their solution was to construct fiberglass panels and install them over steel framing. These shapes were so random, so “swoopy”, they thought maybe our CAD/CAM driven CNC machine could help.
And we could. Symmetrix’s engineers took the client’s CAD drawings – long, curved shapes – and determined how best to divide the pieces both for production and shipping purposes. They designed a pattern off of which the FRP tooling could be constructed. There were many variables – certain areas were needed first, some corners would be too tight for our machine to cut, or to difficult to lay fiberglass. The bizarre shapes were twisted and turned, perfect for fiberglass application. When the pieces were finished, we had 17 twisty-curvy parts, almost 200 square meters, that exceeded the customer’s expectations.
Limited use tooling or (DTM) by-passes the pattern and plug making steps of composite construction by machining the mold side of the surface to support direct composite part making. This is done, for instance, to cut valuable time out of a limited run program or facilitate a prototyping initiative. Symmetrix DTM projects in the past include racing sailboats Comanche and Puma’s Mar Mostro.
In 2015, Symmetrix Composite Tooling worked with Gunboat on their newly designed 78’ catamaran to construct DTM tooling for the deck and coach roof. Materials were chosen to reflect the harsh conditions the tooling would face. At the most basic level, these parts would be sitting in the North Carolina sun and were therefore painted grey (not our customary black) to better withstand the heat.
The deck for a 78’ catamaran is not a small thing. Our machine and shop were put to full use as the deck was framed, cut and fully constructed.
The coach roof, while also large, had a different level of complication. As drawn by Gunboat, there were corners and crevices where our machine would not reach. Our engineers and shop manager reviewed the drawings and came up with a solution – separate it into parts. The CAD was deconstructed and configured to optimize machine use. The pieces were constructed separately in the same methods as used on the DTM deck, then reconnected to match the original drawings.
DTM parts are often more labor intensive than pattenr construction, but the end result allows our customers to get down to business faster and more efficiently. Whether working on prototypes, or limited run production, a DTM tool can help save you time and money.
Welcome back to our year end countdown of our favorite jobs. This week, we would like to take a look at projects by product type.
Symmetrix Composite Tooling does one thing very well: we bring our customers’ complex shapes to life. This is done in one of three ways: as a Pattern or Plug, as a Direct to Mold Pattern, or as a Mold. Our methods are tested and proven, and pride ourselves on matching requirements and schedules of our customers.
Every once in a while, we receive a request that simply wants to make use of our second greatest asset (behind our employees): our 5-axis CNC machine and its incredible accuracies. One job this year was looking for a long, accurate cut out of EPS foam to be fiberglassed in California. It was going to be the Worlds Largest Surfboard.
Our most popular job this year was probably one of our most simple. Surf City USA, the tourist office for Huntington Beach, California, decided to go after the Guinness World Record for the most people riding on one surfboard and for the world’s largest surfboard. Originally contacting surf board makers in their area, it quickly became apparent that this project was better served by a boat builder. Westerly Marine of Santa Ana, California, was hired and asked Symmetrix to help with cutting the foam.
The design and construction team for the board covers some great names in surfing, boat building, and design. Symmetrix’s role was simple but significant: the 42’ board, divided in half, fit easily into our 86’ 5-axis CNC machine. The cutting of the foam took less than a day, boxing it for shipping took hours, waiting for permits to be faxed took longer than expected, then it was out the door to the builders at Westerly Marine. On June 20, 2015, 66 riders surfed for 12 seconds on the 42’ long 11’ wide board and were broke the Guinness Word Record. Join Visit Huntington Beach on January 21 to relive the ride.