Manufacturing Today - November/December 2016 - 92

Midwest

Stacker LLC

stacker takes pride in its ability
to keep its manufacturing in
the united states.

"When you can print so many iterations and so many different shapes and
colors, it exponentially grows your creative process in your company.
"It's also quite impressive when
you can get quality, 3-D printers with
affordable filaments within the hands
of people," he says. "Things are just
changing every day because of it."
The printers also provide users
with advantages over the use of injection molding. "What you can't do in
injection molding is embed hardware
or have undercuts or all sorts of complex, inner structures that would add
tremendous strength to your parts,"
he says.
Thanks to 3-D printing, "You can
have big, thick and chunky parts with
infill that you can see," he says. "But it
does require you from the beginning
to keep in mind that you're building
one layer at a time."
Stacker's 3-D printers also can use
92

manufacturing-today.com NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2016

nearly every type of filament, ranging
"from carbon fiber to bamboo-filled
PVA," he says. "If it can be injection
molded, it can be 3-D printed."

Keeping it Local
Stacker takes pride in the fact that
it has kept its manufacturing in the
United States. "Ninety percent of
our printers are made right here in
Minnesota," he reports, noting that
its electronics packages are made in
Los Angeles.
"We can't trust our quality to any
offshore manufacturers," he says,
noting that keeping manufacturing
U.S.-based gives it more control. "We
need that level of just-in-time delivery. We want to keep those jobs in the
United States."

including "hybrid manufacturing,"
Fontaine says. Like many upstart
companies, "We had hundreds of
thousands of dollars tied up in inventory," he recalls, noting that the
excess inventory was taking up too
much shop space.
Problems also occurred when one
supplier sent steel parts to a powder
coater and they arrived damaged at
Stacker's shop. "You would eat that
part, because it's not worth vendor
relations trying to find out [who damaged it]," he recalls.
The company solved this problem
by having its subcontractor not only
laser and stamp the steel parts, but
also powder coat and assemble them
into the steel frames for the printer.
The supplier then delivers these components to Stacker on a daily basis,
which then get built and finished into
complete printers.
"By the next day, they're out the
door," he says, noting that the company also created a new printer design
that eliminated complexity and reduced part count. "[This makes] it so
anyone can put it together."
The printers also are built around
a sophisticated and rigid building jig,
Fontaine adds. Before they leave the
plant, "Each printer is built and inspected by a team that consists of our
subcontractors' labor as well as Stacker employees," he adds.
"Their team does 80 percent of
work, and our team does 20 percent,"
he says. "That's why I call this 'hybrid
manufacturing.' [You need to] get
your subcontractor to work with you
on this, but give them support. It's not
going to happen otherwise."

Moving Right Along
Hybrid Manufacturing
Stacker has applied unique solutions to its production operations,

Stacker also utilizes a "moving assembly cell" system to put together the
printers, Fontaine says. Within the


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Manufacturing Today - November/December 2016

Table Of Contents
Manufacturing Today - November/December 2016 - Cover1
Manufacturing Today - November/December 2016 - Cover2
Manufacturing Today - November/December 2016 - 1
Manufacturing Today - November/December 2016 - Table Of Contents
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Manufacturing Today - November/December 2016 - Cover3
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