Phil Vinson and his business partner Chuck Wells launched Mobile Glassblowing Studios LLC in 2015. The company offers a range of products related to all things glassblowing. In particular, the company has a flagship range of mobile glassblowing furnaces for use in exhibitions and schools. The furnaces are ideal for anyone in need of a glassblowing solution that is mobile, flexible, and low maintenance.
Although still very much in the startup phase, the company has seen rapid growth since its founding. The company started out in Chuck’s backyard in a 12x32-foot portable building with a cluster of extension cords running from his house and since has expanded to accommodate 11 employees in a state-of-the-art 7,000-square-foot factory space. Long story short, their infrastructure has evolved to keep pace with growth.
“Where we are at now, we manufacture an average of between 30 and 40 units per year. We’ve just shipped our 100th furnace about a month ago, and since then we’ve shipped four or five more. And that’s just furnaces,” said Vinson in an interview with engineering.com. “A lot of the time, the furnaces will have accessories, so there will be a cooling oven, or a bench, or some other type of furniture that we build. Usually, our sales are more than just the furnaces.”
Solid Edge for Startups
For Mobile Glassblowing Studios, the CAD software of choice is Solid Edge. Phil Vinson had worked with Solid Edge at a past job, so it was a natural choice to return to the software he was most accustomed to. But there were other benefits as well.
“We are part of the Solid Edge for Startups program, and it’s an initiative they have where can we get a license at no cost. The reason the program exists is so that startups don’t have to justify a piece of software in their expenses. So, Siemens allowed us to have the software for a year or two, and we have been able to model all of our furnaces. I used to use a 2D program and, with the help of our lead-fabricator-turned-design-developer, Charles Wells III, we moved everything over into Solid Edge. Now we can model the equipment and we can analyze how we are building things. We’ve been able to develop really nice working drawings for the folks on the factory floor, so they know what they’re supposed to do.”
Solid Edge also provides Mobile Glassblowing Studios with powerful 3D capabilities that change the very nature of their workflow.
“The switch to 3D has made it much easier to communicate to people that I’m working with. With 2D, you have to draw every single view—and make sure you didn’t miss a little detail. And then when you’d go to make changes, it was really difficult to make sure that everything was updated. It was just a nightmare to try and update it. So, what we had with 2D was a bunch of loose ideas of the parameters of how these things were supposed to be, and kind of an oral history of how to actually build the stuff. It was very dependent on specific people being available at specific points. If you reach that point on a Monday afternoon and that person isn’t there, then everything comes to a standstill. So, the switch over to 3D means you don’t have to envision anything—it’s just there. You’ve actually built the thing in 3D, which is a very different way of looking at things. You think it’s only going to have a little bit of an impact, but when you actually put it in place, it’s pretty profound.”
You can read more about Mobile Glassblowing Studios and their range of products on their company website. And you just might pick up a glassblowing hobby.
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