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Fri, Aug 20, 2004

A Homebuilding Pilot's Dream?

New CAD Program Allows You To Design Part, Then Send It To Manufacturer

On this side of the table, we have computer-assisted drawing programs. Over here, we have manufacturers who use CAD renderings to... well, make things. So what would happen if the two were brought together over the internet?

You'd get something like Jim Lewis's eMachineShop. And it could be a big boon for homebuilt aviators and those who meticulously restore vintage aircraft for which parts are no longer available.

Lewis's company contracts with 19 different machine shops around the world to make the parts his customers order. Even though he doesn't advertise, eMachineShop employs 19 people and has reportedly handled more than 1,000 orders since going live online back in June.

"Being able to sit at you home computer, draw up some parts, submit them and 30 days later they are on your doorstep, all without human contact, is mind-blowing," said Dennis Vegh of Mesa (AZ). He told the Associated Press that he's building an aircraft from plans drawn up in 1929.

"I had to have the pieces made because they do not exist anywhere," Vegh said.

Aside from the direct-connect with manufacturers, eMachineShop has an interface it promises won't let you make a mistake when you're designing your dream part. For instance, if we're talking sheet metal, the program won't allow you to design a bend so close to the edge that the machinist can't do it right.

"My dream is essentially to become the Amazon in the manufacturing segment," Lewis told the AP.

Lewis said it takes about 30 days from the time the CAD is sent to his company before the part is delivered.

FMI: www.emachineshop.com

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