Justin Eugene Evans

“SA MechEng Online, on behalf of SAIMechE, was invited to Cape Town to attend the launch of the EvansWerks Creative Lab.  Although digital printing is not new, the volume that can be printed, varying from one too many thousands, is unique as is the Lab’s expertise in  seamlessly bridging a client from prototype to mass manufacture.

A subsidiary of EvansWerks, a family-owned, privately-held research and development company, The Creative Lab’s facility is the first of several being planned around the world. According to designer and developer Justin Eugene Evans, this is just a taste of what’s to come.

“Gone are the days when only large corporations with vast sums of money and access to wealthy investors could bring their ideas to life. Anyone can walk into our Cape Town facility with an idea and walk out with a product in their hands. 

“Whether we are working with a student who has an idea for a new product or an existing company that wants to tweak or expand their existing range, the Lab simplifies the process as these services are now housed under one roof,” says Justin.

 “Our facility provides unparalleled precision, speed, and quality allowing an individual to develop a prototype right here in South Africa without having to go through arduous processes.” 

Any number

He explains, “Let’s assume a client only needs 30 items, for example. Not 1 and not 3000…that’s been the challenge since the beginning of the industrial revolution. We can print the product at our facility. And because we are able to print the tooling, the design can be taken from rough prototype all the way through to mass manufacturing should that be the client’s goal.”

The Creative Lab can mock up the clients’ idea in SolidWorks or Fusion360. Once happy with what they see on the 70″ 4K displays, the entire structure can be printed. ”We’ll take the client’s file, slice it into pieces and then manufacture it at whatever scale needed for their PMU. We can build prototypes of whatever item they may need.”

In-house team

The Lab’s engineers are cross-trained in aesthetics, design and material science which means they understand how to make things functional and beautiful. They work alongside in-house firmware, software and App developers as well as a team of trusted and affordable artists within the firm’s network of vendors, if necessary. So, when a client wants to prototype a new item, for example, The Lab undertakes the sketching session, dials in the final aesthetics, and prints a rough-and-ready version on an FDM printer.

Thereafter dimensions are approved, a final demo unit is printed in resin, before being painted to look realistic. When the client is ready for a production quality unit, the Lab undertakes this task as well tooling for mass manufacture in-house in Cape Town. 

Mass manufacture

When ready to build the real deal, The Creative Lab has the capability to manufacture these items on site or 3D print the moulds in steel or titanium. Clients have the option of mass manufacturing together with one of The Lab’s trusted vendors in their global supply chain. 

“We can make high-quality custom jigs as well, which is useful for accelerating construction and ensuring a consistent result. If the client and their team can dream it, we can do it,” adds Justin.

Moulds, tools and dies

“Upscaling a short-run part for mass manufacturing is easy for us because we can print the moulds, tools & dies right here. This massively reduces the price of tooling. It also allows the customer to select unusual materials for their tools. Perhaps they want a traditional Tool Steel mould. That’s fine; we can do that for them. But, we can also produce moulds in Titanium, which don’t rust, are stronger and last far longer at a fraction of the weight. 

“Even better; we can design the tool in a way that has never been possible before. We can change the infill, reducing weight and cost. Sprue paths can be organic, more like a beehive or ant colony. All of this improves the performance of tools. And it’s less than the cost of making a traditional mould or die in China using a 3-axis CNC milling station,” says Justin.

Taiwanese offices

The company also has an office in Taiwan that oversees the global supply chain dedicated to mass manufacture. The tool is shipped to the Taipei office where Taiwanese staff takes the tools directly to the selected factory.

“I built our global supply chain the hard way having lived in China for years where I taught myself basic Mandarin and worked in the factories as a day labourer.”

Principles of Kaizen

Along with his business partner, Jason R. Moore, Justin is an avid follower of Kaizen, a strategy where employees at all levels of a company work together proactively to achieve regular, incremental improvements to the manufacturing process. Much of this philosophy is included in the facility. 

“Kaizen is guided by a few key principles. Good processes create good results. The benefits of continuous improvement eliminate waste, and increase productivity and safety while lowering cost,” Justin elaborates.

It can be done

“I’ve passed on much of my hands-on knowledge to our staff. So, we know many tricks of the trade. We know what tolerances can actually be achieved and why a factory claims a component is impossible to fabricate when the real issue is they don’t own the correct machines. Our factories also trust us, because we’ve worked with them for years,” he concludes.

In a time when companies are wary about investing in South Africa, it’s heartening to welcome such a commitment to innovation and design on home soil. 


2 Responses

  1. I am impressed by the capabilities of this company and what it has to offer.
    I will like to design and fabricate a unique slimline aluminium frame system to install on existing windows to take care of insects.
    interested to know approx costs to design the tooling and fabricate frames. Please send me additional info in this regard.

  2. Previous comment is more of an enquiry and rather than a comment. Apologise for this confusion.

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