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Barkman Concrete Utilizes Fabrication Lab for Prototypes

Barkman Concrete has been manufacturing precast concrete products for residential, commercial, agricultural and municipal applications since 1948. The company is recognized across North America and is highly committed to product quality and customer satisfaction.

Barkman Concrete have been members of the Fabrication Lab for just over a year, recently renewing their corporate membership for another twelve months. We spoke with Dennis Bergen, Product Development/Product Designer to learn more about how Barkman Concrete takes advantage of the tools and services offered at the Lab.

What does Barkman Concrete use the North Forge Fabrication Lab for?
Barkman staff utilizes both the Barkman plant in Steinbach along with the North Forge Fabrication Lab to develop and evolve products/innovations. This allows us to use both the technology and diversity of thought that North Forge and its members possess while taking advantage of the expertise and skill we have here at Barkman.

What was your first prototype made for Barkman at the North Forge Fabrication Lab?
One of the first prototypes we produced was the Cast Bench which was released to market in 2018. We established this project prior to our collaboration with North Forge. Once we started to utilize the lab, we discovered we could 3D print at a low cost. We began to make tweaks to the overall design allowing us to finalize the product.

What are some projects you’ve worked on since then?
Over the past year, we have worked on a variety of different projects at the Fabrication Lab, many of which have never gone further than the conceptual stage, yet they have influenced our work significantly. We have developed a variety of pavers, slabs, landscape kits and site furnishings. For example, we created the Skyline Bench; which is currently not available and will be entering the market in 2019.

Skyline Bench

Which prototype was the most significant success and why?
It is difficult to pinpoint our most significant success since each project we work on has an impact in one way or another. One of the most considerable knowledge and experience building projects was the Truss Bench. We were able to create unique curved geometries using cast concrete with a simple plastic mold system while utilizing out of the box mold designs. This project has influenced mold designs for many projects since.

Who uses the Fabrication Lab most often?
Currently, the Product Development team, which consist of four members at Barkman, utilize the North Forge facility. However, when another department needs our help, we can assist them with the tools at the Fabrication Lab.

How has the Fabrication Lab helped Barkman Concrete?
North Forge and its Fabrication Lab gave us the ability to produce small-scale models through 3D printing, quickly and at low costs. This increased our rate of prototyping for given projects, which reduced our overhead costs in the factory as well as cut our overall material costs. Instead of creating a large 1:1 scale prototype for a specific idea, we were given the ability to create a variety of small-scale models allowing us to determine which iteration of the project we wanted to evolve. Having all the tools accessible in one space 24/7 while having a variety of makers and innovators on-hand to gather experience and knowledge allows us to produce higher quality prototypes, quicker, and at reduced costs.

Would you recommend the Fabrication Lab to other businesses?
Yes, North Forge is an excellent place for businesses to develop and launch products. I would highly recommend businesses to come and take a look at the Fabrication Lab for themselves.

 

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