Working for a SLA service bureau in the late nineties where quotes were returned in hours and parts shipped in days, my switch to the subtractive world was like running in cement. As a manufacturer’s rep, I had to fight for my customers daily just to get a quote returned in weeks and then, if lucky enough to win the business, parts delivered in months. This smelled like opportunity. What if I married the Rapid Prototype service bureau business model to sheet metal? It seemed like a sure winner and I put together a plan focusing on the quick turn manufacturing of sheet metal prototypes.
After locating a local sheet metal shop, Russell Sheet Metal, where the owner wanted to retire, we were all set to buy the business on September 14th. Then the unthinkable happened – September 11th. The world stopped and I had to make a decision. Do I continue on with my dream, knowing it was now going to be much, much harder, or do I halt the process? I decided I would rather fail trying than to give up. So on September 14, 2001 Rapid Sheet Metal opened its doors. The recession hit and yes, it was hard. In hindsight though, it was during this lean period that our culture was built. We used this time to learn, grow, and build a rock solid team.
I like to say the first three years we faked sheet metal prototyping really well. We used a turret punch to blank parts which was terribly inefficient. A real prototype sheet metal shop uses lasers and in 2004 RAPID finally purchased its first laser. It enabled “rapid” growth and in 2006 Rapid Sheet Metal moved to a 25,000 square foot facility where we added a second laser and introduced multi-axis press brakes. Then in 2007 Rapid Sheet Metal expanded again, offering in-house powder coating and silk screening which further reduced lead-times. Recognizing that we were becoming the de facto production shop for companies whose production volumes didn’t interest traditional production sheet metal shops, Rapid Sheet Metal added a second facility in 2014 focused on low volume production.
All these dates are milestones in Rapid Sheet Metal’s history. Specific markers of turning points where RAPID invested in the delivery of our Core Purpose – Manufacturing Time. Even though 15 years have passed, Rapid Sheet Metal still has the same mission today: a focus on prototypes and the desire to make quantity one. But we have updated the time. Quotes are now returned in seconds and parts in a few less days. And over the next fifteen years we will strive to do even better.
– Jay Jacobs, CEO