Making the Impossible: Extrusion Screw

While a lot of the parts we make are the kind you could do with a basic drill press/lathe/mill setup, one of our most recent ones was a little bit more complicated. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll just put this here…


If you know what this is, you know they usually don’t come cheap.


The first time they see it, most people blink and go, “How in the $#@! did you make that!?” You’ve not only got a non-standard square thread form which would make a lathe operator sweat, you’ve got a tapered section in the middle, and it’s pretty thin at the left side, which makes holding it during machining kind of tricky. A lot of workaday shops wouldn’t want to touch this.

The truth is that once you understand the geometry and how the machine control works, it’s a lot simpler than it looks, but it was still one of the more complex parts I’ve made. This part required setup with the 4th axis, so the part could be rotated while being machined.

The 4th axis can rotate the part in sync with the other axes of the machine.

The 4th axis can rotate the part in sync with the other axes of the machine.

While the final part was a bit more expensive than what we usually do, it was still less than a typical car payment, which is to say it was a great deal. In case you’re still wondering what this part is, this article is a good start.

MiniPCR Kickstarter – It’s better when you beta

One of my first customers was a really neat project called MiniPCR that went on to successfully exceeded its Kickstarter goal with a campaign that raised $66,000 to build a desktop polymerase chain reaction (PCR) DNA sequencing device for under $500–a tenth of the price of typical lab machines. This project was a perfect example of the type of customer we can be a great partner for.

Kickstarter campaigns are most successful when they’re launched after a product has been put through the paces with a small group of test users. While Zeke was able to make the first MiniPCR by hand in his garage to prove the basic design, the process was extremely time-consuming and yielded parts that were functional but unattractive. That’s when he found Seaport R&D.

Over the course of about 9 months, we made sets of parts for a total of about 50 machines in batch sizes from one to 20 sets. Numerous small design changes were made along the way, allowing Zeke and his team to economically test design improvements before committing to a large production run. By the time their campaign launched, they knew they could deliver a working machine at a viable cost, and their success speaks for itself.

MiniPCR parts being machined in a custom fixture

MiniPCR parts being machined in a custom fixture

If you need prototypes or pre-production samples for your crowdfunding project, contact us today to find out how we can help make your campaign a success.