“Having been in business 10 years, during which I’ve spent millions of dollars on equipment, software and infrastructure, I can’t think of another purchase than Materialise e-Stage of which I’ve been more satisfied. I’m anxious to get more training for my staff as I know we’ve barely begun to leverage the program”
– Steve Grundahl, President, Midwest Prototyping
Midwest Prototyping, based in Blue Mounds, Wisconsin, supplies customers from coast to coast with the prototypes that they require. Using a range of technologies, they produce single parts as well as assembling a variety of parts to create real working prototypes. Their team of highly-trained professionals strives to provide customers with the highest quality parts, and meet their deadlines each and every time. However, sometimes the unexpected can occur, and when it does, it helps to have not only the right people, but also the right software to get you through. As you will see, this was the case for Midwest Prototyping, and Materialise e-Stage was there to generate the support they needed to get them through.
Tragedy strikes a tight knit team
Heading up the 10 person strong team of Midwest Protoyping is CEO Steve Grundahl. In early summer 2010, together with his lead Stereolithography programmer Elliot, Steve was successfully experimenting with his newly purchased Materialise e-Stage software on two of his four Stereolithography machines. The initial results were fantastic and both men were pleased the progress that they were making. Unknown to them at the time, the real value of the software was about to be tested.
On June 14th, Elliot suffered a stroke at work as a result of a previously undetected brain aneurysm. Thankfully, they were able to get him immediate medical attention and treatment was administered before any permanent damage occurred. As he was only 24 years of age and in otherwise perfect health, this left the tight knit team at Midwest Prototyping in shock. After a week or so of tense moments, doctors reported that Elliot would be fine, but that it would be a long recovery period. It became clear that the company would be without their go-to-guy in the Stereolithography department for quite some time.
Materialise e-Stage is put to the test
While Elliot was recovering, business was booming for Midwest Prototyping and the employees were working like crazy to keep up with the demands on their growing departments (CNC, Cast Urethane, SLS, Paint, etc.). Familiar with Stereolithography programming and operations, and unable to hand the workload to someone else on the team, Steve stepped up to the plate and filled in for Elliot until he was ready to return. Now that he was responsible for the Stereolithography department on top of running and expanding the business as a whole, it was time for Steve to put his full trust in Materialise e-Stage for the generation of support structures so that parts could be printed and delivered on time.
In an email sent to Materialise, Steve stated that without Materialise e-Stage, the manual programming of all the supports would have buried him during that period. It is thanks to Materialise e-Stage that he was able to manage the workload facing him while still delivering quality projects on time. This would have been impossible using the software that they had previously relied upon.
The future is bright for Midwest Prototyping
There is a happy end to this story as Elliot was ready to return to work, on a part-time basis, at the end of September. Stir crazy from a summer of sitting around, he was anxious to get back to the job and everyone at Midwest Prototyping was thrilled to see him back in good health and back on their team. Also joining the team were two new members for the Stereolithography department, both of whom started their training in September…training which included how to use Materialise e-Stage. Now that Materialise e-Stage had survived a ‘trial by fire’ and helped Steve get through an extremely difficult summer, it was ready to take a long-term role on the Stereolithography team and join Midwest Prototyping on its journey to a bright and prosperous future.
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