Engineering Skid Model


KiwiMill was asked to build an engineering skid model of industrial equipment produced by Energy Recovery.  This product is used to harness fluid energy.

The engineering skid model is a combination of several materials. Aluminum pipes and plastic plumbing parts were combined with milled tooling board for the majority of the model. Smaller, more detailed parts were formed out of metal, or else 3D printed. Color was added for visual definition and orientation.



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How Long Does a Custom Model Job Take?

custom model

Part of quoting custom model work is determining how long the project will take to build. KiwiMill gives an estimated completion time in each quote. The time it takes to complete a custom model is based on a number of factors.

The number one factor influencing project length is client need. Many of our projects have to be finished in the shortest period of time possible. There are deadlines for trade shows, sales presentations, corporate meetings and museum openings. Therefore, one of the first questions we ask our clients, after figuring out the purpose of the model, is when and where they need it delivered.

Meeting the client’s deadline is of the utmost importance. Before a job is accepted it has to be agreed upon that the project can be completed in the given time-frame. No client will be expected to pay for a scale model that fails to meet its deadline.

As each custom job, by nature,  is different from the previous, figuring out how many hours will go into a build is a complex process. KiwiMill does this by estimating the amount of time needed to complete each step of the project – from material acquisition,  design time, fabrication, to assembly and finish – then figuring out how many model makers are available to work on it.

Once we make the commitment to a project deadline, everything possible is done to make it happen. Often this involves long days, over time and weekends. Sometimes it means a model will have expedited shipping (agreed upon ahead of time with the client). Whatever it takes to get the job done on time, and with high standards of quality, is the goal.

When there is not a hard deadline to work toward, the length of a project is still determined by estimating the number of hours each part of the project will take, divided by the number of model makers available under “normal” working conditions. The project length is usually quoted in weeks. It typically does not start until the information needed for the build are supplied by the client, along with a deposit where applicable.

When a quote is given, the completion time is based on the current work load in the shop. Our production supervisor schedules simultaneous jobs, and assigns project managers to each one. If you happen to need a model when there are fewer jobs currently scheduled, then the completion time will be shorter. Likewise, if you choose to have a model made during a very busy time period, the build time will be longer. By sharing this information upfront with the client, before a project is agreed upon, there are no surprises or disappointment.

Most clients understand that the building of a custom model is an artistic endeavor which does not follow fixed steps found in many other manufacturing processes. Each model is unique, as are the materials and fabrication methods that go into a build. In spite of its unique nature, model makers understand the expectation that the final product needs to be finished on time, every time. It’s the nature of the profession that most custom model projects will have tight deadlines, sometimes even highly unrealistic ones.


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Industrial Models

Industrial Model

Industrial models allow a company to demonstrate its machinery, piece of large equipment or industrial process using a hands on approach. Having an industrial model sets your product apart from the competition that’s still relying on a two-dimensional display. A color brochure of a product, or even a video demonstration will not deliver the impact an industrial model in hand does. A 3 dimensional model communicates effectively, answering specific questions about your product. It can also highlight the particular features or strengths that you want emphasized.

Often an industrial process or piece of machinery is too large, complex or cumbersome to travel between trade shows. A model, on the other hand, is portable while still being instantly recognizable and understood as a replica of your product.  No need to worry that the potential client cannot visualize your product accurately from a 2 dimensional drawing or photograph. While nothing can substitute for the real product, a quality replica can be a highly effective alternative. Its physical presence provides direct understanding about what you are offering and translates into a more positive sales experience.

A skilled model maker can work with you to provide an accurate, visually pleasing, detailed-as-you-want industrial model in a user-friendly scale. Specific features can be emphasized on the model, making it easier for your sales staff to illustrate your product’s uniqueness. Duplicate models can be constructed for multiple shows. Replicas are a cost-effective, engaging option when bringing along the real product is not feasible. No one should go into a presentation without this sales tool in hand!

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