Skilled Manufacturing Inc. and I & W Industries Implement SolidWorks and Grant Licenses to Northwestern Michigan College

Automotive Component and Tubing Manufacturers Invest in 3D CAD, RP And Support Local Education and Training Programs with Technology Grant

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. & TROY, Mich.—(BUSINESS WIRE)—May 3, 2004— Skilled Manufacturing Inc. (SMI) and I & W Industries, both located in Traverse City, Michigan, announce their implementation of SolidWorks CAD software and the Dimension 3D printer for product design. SMI is an automotive component manufacturer, and I & W Industries is a certified high-pressure tubing supplier to the automotive community. Both companies are under the same ownership and will be sharing this new technology across a network, which will also benefit Tribal Motorworks, the aftermarket motorcycle component arm of I & W Industries. The companies intend to streamline their product design process, facilitate data transfers with customers and suppliers and launch a profit center using the Dimension for 3D RP.

"SolidWorks is the most user-friendly 3D modeling package on the market," said Kevin Schlueter, Director of Quality and Engineering at SMI. "We were concerned about the future and direction of the CAD packages that we were using, which was the impetus to begin researching other solutions. SolidWorks impressed us as the most affordable and best-supported package on the market, not to mention its functionality and data importation features. SolidWorks does a great job in reading the Unigraphics files we receive from GM."

Another SolidWorks selling point is the ability to make a change to a part and have that change reflected in the 2D drawing, the 3D model and the assembly. "This feature is very beneficial to us," said Kevin.

"Changes made to a specific component within an assembly translate not only to the part model, but to the 2D drawing as well."

SMI's non-design engineers, who have previously been intimidated by CAD, are now designing parts within a week using SolidWorks. "I've been trying to find a way to put my thoughts down on paper, and now I can finally do that with SolidWorks," said Ken May, Manufacturing Engineer at SMI.

The impact of the Dimension 3D printer will be two-fold. Not only will the companies be able to print their own parts without outsourcing to a service bureau, but they plan to offer this service to their customers as well. "When building custom motorcycle parts, we need to provide our customers with a physical prototype before they're comfortable signing off on a design. They don't want to be limited to visualizing what a part will look and feel like from paper," said Kevin Schlueter.

SolidWorks Technology Grant

In support of local technology education and training programs, SMI and I & W will grant 30 educational licenses of SolidWorks to M-TEC at Northwestern Michigan College. M-TEC is a Michigan initiative to make the state a leader in workforce development. M-TEC offers associate degrees in various technical disciplines, certificate programs and skills training, as well as process improvement seminars for local businesses. M-TEC has been selected to receive this grant due to the close relationship between SMI and I & W's ownership and M-TEC.

One reason SMI and I & W chose to work with FISHER/UNITECH was the company's commitment to the software implementation at M-TEC. "It was obvious that FISHER/UNITECH would provide the necessary support and resources before, during and after the sale," said Kevin Schlueter.

M-TEC, which opened at NMC in 2001, will be using SolidWorks in their Drafting and Design Engineering Technology program. "Many of the companies in the area use SolidWorks for product design, so we're excited to give our students the opportunity to learn the software that they'll be using at work," said Jay Beery, Drafting and Design Department Head at M-TEC. Students will be able to select SolidWorks as their software of choice when registering for solid modeling courses.

About FISHER/UNITECH ( www.funtech.com)

FISHER/UNITECH provides process consulting for the product development community. As an integrator of technology-based software and hardware solutions, the company sells and supports product lifecycle management, computer-aided design, manufacturing and analysis software, rapid prototyping equipment, reverse engineering products and knowledge-based engineering solutions. Headquartered in Troy, Michigan, FISHER/UNITECH has five branch offices located strategically throughout the Great Lakes region. For the latest news and information, please visit the company's website at ( http://www.funtech.com/) or call 800-816-8314.

About SMI, I & W Industries and Tribal Motorworks

Skilled Manufacturing Inc. (SMI) is a leading provider of machined aluminum products to Tier 1 and Tier 2 automotive companies and currently supplies components that appear in several General Motors vehicles, including the Chevrolet Corvette, Pontiac GTO and the Northstar engine for specific Cadillac models. SMI employs 130 people and occupies a 90,000 square foot facility in Traverse City, Michigan. The company has been serving the automotive community for over 25 years. ( http://www.skilledmfg.com/)

Founded in 1998 with $700,000 in sales, I & W Industries has grown to be a leader in the small-diameter metal fabricated tubing, with more than $10 million in revenues and 130 employees. I & W's components can be found in dozens of vehicles, including the Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Chrysler LHS, Dodge Intrepid, Ford Explorer, and Toyota Camry. ( http://www.iandw.com/)

Tribal Motorworks, founded in 2002, is a premier manufacturer of high quality motorcycle accessories, headquartered in Traverse City, Michigan. Tribal Motorworks manufactures aftermarket accessories for V-Twin motorcycles, specializing in CNC machined billet aluminum accessories. Company management has been recognized in the industry and the community for its growth strategies and progressive business practices. ( http://www.tribalmotorworks.com/)

About Northwestern Michigan College and M-TEC

Northwestern Michigan College provides a wide variety of learning experiences to over 90,000 learners each year. Learners come to NMC for academic degrees, personal enrichment, organizational training and cultural activities. ( http://www.nmc.edu/)

The Parsons-Stulen M-TEC is the result of a Michigan initiative to make the State a leader in workforce development. Parsons-Stulen M-TEC opened its doors in January 2001 to provide flexible learning in technical education and training. M-TEC has been developed and continues to work closely with area businesses, manufacturers, and builders to deliver relevant training in many areas. ( http://www.nmc.edu/mtec/)



Contact:
Northwestern Michigan College                    
Karen Anderson, 231-995-1019             

Email Contact                                
or
FISHER/UNITECH
Lisa Super, 800-816-8314, ext. 129

Email Contact
or
Skilled Manufacturing Inc.                 
Kevin Schlueter, 231-941-0290, ext. 12                

Email Contact



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