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Kaiser Manufacturing’s Scan-to-CAD Process for Custom Tool Foam

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Feb 06,2023


A company near Chicago designs and fabricates custom tool foam inlays for toolboxes, workstations, travel cases and reusable packaging. Kaiser Manufacturing says its process fills the need for a custom solution that is superior to hand-cut tool foam in both function and appearance.

“The problem we solve for our customer is how to create a custom foam inlay for their unique mix of tools and accessories,” says Nic Kaiser, Operations Manager. “No two shops have the same set up, so we introduced portable 3D scanners to quickly capture the layout for a full drawer of tools.”

The LED scanner can capture a part profile or layout of 24 x 48 inches or more with an accuracy of 0.02 inches. The 3D files are converted to CAD and the design is machined in two-color foam to nest each tool and fit the specific workstation, case, or drawer.

The 3D scanning kits are available on a rental basis, complete with a video tutorial, or as a turnkey service. This makes it convenient for customers to scan tool layouts in their own shop. No need to ship tools out, download or license software, or purchase any equipment. It also saves engineering time compared to designing tool trays in house, and the finished product is more professional than hand-cut foam.

The two-color material, called Kaizen Shadow Foam, is a durable and closed-cell polyethylene that is dust-free, resistant to oils and solvents, and can be cleaned. It is a popular choice in lean manufacturing environments, 5S initiatives, and for FOD prevention.

“A lot of companies invest in top-quality tooling, gauges and other equipment but don’t protect that investment in the shop,” explains Chris Kaiser, Kaiser Manufacturing Founder. “When expensive cutting tools or collets or holders shift around in drawers, they are easily damaged. Proper storage reduces both damage and waste.”

There are additional benefits to this type of tool organization. It saves time when an operator can reach a tool without searching. Shift changes are smooth when everything is in its place. Contrasting colors aid in creating a visual workspace and highlight missing tools, which improves asset retention and reduces spending on replacement tools. 

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