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Crafting Innovation: Making the Right Tools for the Job

Tuomas Moilanen, the quality and tooling manager at V.A.V. Group, knows what it takes to cater to the needs of both new and existing clients. One of his responsibilities is designing, manufacturing, and testing unique custom-made tools. 3D printing is a modern and efficient way of making the right tool for the right job.

Meet the brief

“The first step is always understanding the customer’s need for a certain profile. Together with our sales team and the customer’s representative, we gather all the necessary information to see how we could find the right solution. Careful planning is crucial because that’s how we can find the right manufacturing process for the profile and, obviously, calculate the costs”, says Moilanen. Once the project has been green-lighted, the process itself is relatively swift: “Within two weeks, we will have designed and 3D-printed the tool and are ready to make the prototype for the customer”, Moilanen estimates. Usually, it only takes minor tweaks here and there by hand to reach the final product.

V.A.V. Group works closely with its customers to avoid mistakes. “The customer usually knows the basic needs of their new profile – the shape, material, heat resistance, etc. Most customers deliver all the information along with images, blueprints, and measurements, but if those are unavailable or the customer is placing their first order, our salespeople are experts in their field and will help the customer with the specifications.

Custom is the new standard

V.A.V. Group has used a 3D printer since 2017, but our custom tools go back a long way. EDM wire cutters are still relatively common, but the efficiency of a 3D printer is unbeatable, says Moilanen: “3D printing is not always faster than EDM wire cutting, but it’s more efficient, as the printer can handle several tools and does most of the work. All we need to do is tiny adjustments by hand – and often not even that. The printer is so much more accurate than any welder or cutter”. Moilanen estimates that the number of custom tools they have created is in the thousands by now, given that he keeps designing around 50 custom tools per year.

Aside from a few staple profiles, every profile is unique and requires its own tool. Even though the term “custom made” is linked to a higher price tag in consumers’ minds, it’s the complete opposite in B2B solutions. Tuomas Moilanen has a simple explanation: “It’s either a custom tool or altering common profiles. By running the quick math, you will soon notice one custom tool that is technically eternal will make every inch of the profile cheaper the more you produce”.

3D printing as a service

Besides printing their own custom tools for individual needs, V.A.V. Group also offers 3D printing as a service to third parties. “For smaller manufacturers, purchasing an industrial 3D printer for metal tools is not cost-efficient, so they can outsource it to us”, says Tuomas Moilanen. There are only a handful of such 3D printers in Finland, most in vocational colleges or universities. “We are the northernmost manufacturer doing custom tools with a printer, but there are plenty of potential customers nearby, so we are more than happy to help out now that we have the proper equipment for making versatile custom tools that last. Very often, when a tool or part breaks down, the shipping of spare parts takes much longer than designing, printing, and delivering the custom part would take”, Moilanen adds.

Tuomas Moilanen

Tuomas Moilanen

Tools Manufacture & Quality
Tel. +358 406 604 208
engineering@vav-group.com
tuomas.moilanen@vav-group.com

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V.A.V. Group specializes in producing tailor-made profiles for customers who have specific requirements for their products. Our production process is extremely flexible with an ability to quickly produce small to medium size production series. We work together with our customers to find the best solution. The company was founded in 2005 and is located in Ii near Oulu in northern Finland.

If you have any questions about our products or company, don’t be afraid to get in touch with us.

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