ANN ARBOR, MI — The EWIE Group of Companies (EGC), a family of manufacturing brands headquartered in Ann Abor, MI, recently launched a new brand focused on the provision of additive manufacturing (AM) services to its group companies and customers. Azoth 3D offers both metal and polymer AM, as well as associated services such as design and prototyping, and 3D scanning and reverse engineering.
East West Industrial Engineering Company — the founding brand of EGC — was founded in the 1980s and has since focused on using technology to reduce its customers’ operating costs and improve production efficiencies. The group’s companies now service 300+ facilities in twelve countries.
Explaining the decision to enter the AM market, EGC stated that, understanding the shifting landscape of manufacturing as part of Industry 4.0, the need to diversify became clear. One of the largest subcategories of items that its brands are often asked to source are machine spare parts, with most production facilities stocking rooms full of brackets, gripper fingers, fixtures, motors, and automation components in order to minimise the impact of machine down time.
In many cases, when a machine part fails, it is too old to locate an original manufacturer to source a replacement. This is further complicated when submitting a one-off emergency order to a local machine shop, where lead times are long and prices are high. This, EGC saw, offered the perfect opportunity to take advantage of AM’s unique capabilities.
“The EGC’s success, and consistent growth, can be attributed to three things,” explained Joey Mullick, Vice President, Azoth 3D. “First, identifying the best technology for a plant operation. Second, consolidating the vendor base by identifying manufacturers who provide world class products and global support. Lastly, benchmarking best practices and replicating them throughout a customer’s manufacturing facilities. Azoth is leveraging these same principles in the world of additive.”
Azoth 3D’s Center of Excellence, also located in Ann Arbor, is said to have grown from an empty warehouse into an impressive lab of the industry’s highest-performing technology in less than two years. The team stated that it envisions being able to support the bulk of orders from this HQ, focusing primarily on Binder Jetting for its metal AM offering.
To support its metal AM capabilities, the company has so far built partnerships with Digital Metal and its parent company Höganäs (Höganäs, Sweden); Desktop Metal (Burlington, MA); and Elnik Systems, LLC, and its sister company DSH Technologies (Cedar Grove, NJ). “Just as a traditional manufacturing facility could not procure all its tools from one tool maker; Azoth is diverse in its partnerships and holistic in its services,” stated Mullick. “The team has built up a network that includes shops that offer technologies they do not, machine distributors, and partners with deep additive expertise. They are also providing reverse engineering and DFA services.”
ECG reports that its vision for Azoth is to transform the physical inventory of a plant into a digital one, thereby reducing the costs of its customers. To this end, the company has coined a new phrase: ‘Take One Make One’ or ‘TOMO’. “The problem Azoth seeks to solve was ever-present in EGC’s existing customer base, and early adoption of their business model has been significant,” explained Mullick. “Since the issues surrounding spare parts are common to all manufacturing facilities, Azoth has been able to grow beyond the group's common customer archetype. New customers choose Azoth because of their ability to manufacture precision parts to blueprints, their vast knowledge of the additive tools available in the market, and the ability to implement digital inventory on demand. Customers that choose to work with Azoth get more than a 3D printed part. They get a team focused on generating solutions, with access to the latest technology in AM, and EGC’s manufacturing history.”