APS Plastics & Manufacturing Blog

Collaboration with TXRX

APS Plastics is proud to announce our partnership with TXRX Labs.

ABOUT TXRX LABS

Established in 2008, TXRX Labs is Houston’s leading non-profit makerspace, housed in a 30,000 square foot facility in the East End District, which includes a machine shop, rapid fabrication lab, electronics lab, metal fabrication shop, wood workshop, bike maintenance and repair shop, art lab, computer lab, and co-working space. They are a project-based group of makers, inventors, tinkerers, artists, crafters, and coders. TXRX hosts a vast variety of classes all year long in their labs and workshops, using the tools and equipment the community may not easily have access to. They’re a passionate team, genuinely interested in educating others and solving problems together.

DISCOVERING THE ALIGNMENT

After learning that their goal is to “bring creative people together, to serve as an incubator for imaginative solutions for everyday problems, to make opaque scientific and technical concepts accessible to everyone through education, and to provide much-needed services to our community, made possible by the skills and passion of our membership,” we couldn’t help but see the alignment in our visions (read blog post “Rethinking The American Shop Class”).

ESTABLISHING THE TEAM

As part of APS’s manufacturing 4.0 efforts, we have established a cross disciplinary team between APS and TXRX, with the goal to innovate around how we manufacture for our customers. Our initial experiments will be focused on driving innovation through:

  • 3D printing applications (tooling and fixtures)
  • Robotics

These two areas were chosen because both 3D printing and robots can help us deliver the core products we make, faster and better. In the long run, these two exponential technologies will help radically change the way we make products for our customers. APS is building a culture of experimentation that allows us to take small risks while accelerating our lessons learned.  As we learn what works, we decide to scale up those experiments into bigger solutions for our business.

In the early days of our partnership with TXRX, we have already had some successes in the area of 3D printing.

THE TEAM HAS SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETED THREE (3) EXPERIMENTS

  1. SACRIFICIAL PINS: Printed some sacrificial pins that help maintain the integrity of certain machining operation. In the past, these pins were machined using one of our CNC machines. By 3D printing them, we avoid having to allocate valuable machine time to these kinds of sacrificial components.
  2. SAMPLE PARTS FOR CUSTOMERS: Printed a set of sample parts for one of our customers. These parts do not require a CNC machine and instead have to maintain the correct geometry based on their use.  Once our customer approves the part, we will begin production runs using 3D printing.
  3. EQUIPMENT PROTECTING SOLUTION: Printed a set of parts for a customer looking for a unique solution to protecting equipment. These 3D printed parts prevent scratching and scraping of other components as they are inserted into a housing repeatedly. 3D printing these components was less expensive compared to using traditional machining methods.

 

We are excited for our work with TXRX Labs. Stay tuned for updates on these efforts and to learn all the great things that come out of our partnership.

 

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Topics: technology manufacturing 4.0 advanced manufacturing manufacturing Industry 4.0 american shop class