Norwalt Design is a privately held engineering company that thrives in the area of custom automation. Founded in 1978, the successful New Jersey industrial supplier is still a family run business that is respected in its industry. Norwalt specializes in both indexing and continuous motion machines. I recently sat down with Herbie Hoos, Project Manager, to discuss how Markforged has impacted their business.
“We saw a return on the Mark Two (Desktop Series) in 3 months, our return on the X3 (Industrial Series) came after just 6 months.” That’s right, Norwalt Design has TWO Markforged Printers. The quick success of the first printer made it an easy choice to add another. Now, they run both printers continuously – 24/7, 330 days per year – using them for a multitude of needs.
A Focus on Innovation
Norwalt encourages everyone – from design engineers to executive managers – to challenge the way they do things and introduce innovative methods to accomplish their goals. This strategy has empowered Herbie to spearhead the Markforged investments when he thought it was time for the organization to explore additive manufacturing. Herbie followed the 3D Printing market for quite some time and saw opportunities for rapid prototyping. The business already had a small desktop 3D printer from another company, but it wasn’t producing the way they imagined. In fact, more time was spent troubleshooting the unit than sowing the fruits of its labor. Herbie knew it wasn’t the technology; it was the product. So he began investigating other 3D printing lines.
“At first my criteria was to just find something under $20K,” Herbie shared. He set his expectations realistically, assuming he would likely have to limit, and possibly compromise, quality with such a modest budget. But he needn’t have worried. “I started looking at capabilities [of other brands], and I wasn’t too impressed. And then I came across Markforged. It was Onyx that caught my attention. A material that is already blended. No one else is doing that.”
While the material was originally the most captivating feature, the overall results continuously amaze Herbie.
“We started using the printers because customers come in with ideas for new projects but have no samples. Before Markforged it would take weeks to make some SLA printed models for them…but not anymore,” stated Herbie.
Thanks to Markforged, Norwalt significantly cut its quoting cycle down, enhancing their speed to market and creating more time to focus on other areas of the production cycle. For new product development especially, speed is no longer a barrier and reiterations from customers are more than welcome. But Herbie and his team didn’t stop there, “…[Markforged’s] proprietary Onyx is probably one of the toughest materials on the market.”
Norwalt wanted to do more with this remarkably resilient material and started exploring other ways they could utilize it elsewhere in their business. They noticed that they pay a lot of money for small aluminum parts and wondered if there was a way to reduce these expenses by using Onyx instead. Herbie did a cost analysis, and you can imagine what happened next. Parts that cost $1.00 to be made in aluminum or other materials now cost only $0.75 using Onyx; what used to cost $5.00 to be made now only cost them $1.00. Today, Norwalt prints a variety of parts that directly go into their machines, all at significant savings.
I walked their shop floor and saw Markforged end use parts everywhere. Grippers, tork testers, part twisters, chucking hands, photo eye holders, photo eye protectors, robot pickup heads, and more – all made from just two Markforged printers. And the team constantly walks the line looking for more applications. Norwalt seems to have found the perfect partner in Markforged – a company that strives for innovation using a product that helps them to do so. Herbie and his team regularly ask themselves, “Now, where else?” We can’t wait to see what (and where) they will print next.