‘At SKM you don’t talk to a salesperson, you work with specialists who create solutions’

They have the same roots. Jos van Esch met SKM founder Rudolf van Kersbergen at the Philips business school. After a career in the tobacco industry, Jos wanted to do something good for society. With his company ReMediZ, he is developing a medicine safe where unused medicines can be reused. For the first series, he went back to his roots and contacted SKM.

‘Rudolf and I come from the same background. We met at the Philips business school. There we sewed the blisters on our hands. A fun time, where we learned to make the most beautiful tools. That is where our shared passion arose. Creating and executing ideas, hands-on. So when I wanted to create my own product years later after my career at Philips Morris, I knew I had to contact Rudolf again.

Brainstorming with experts

Recently Rudolf passed away and I very much regret that. But the two excellent experts he hired are great to work with. Just like Rudolf, Jeroen and Dirk are true professionals. When you show them a drawing, they immediately know if it can be made. And if something is not (yet) possible, they come up with a way to cast a part. They have an enormous amount of material knowledge and know the hardness, resilience and flexibility of plastic like no other. At SKM you don’t talk to a salesperson, you work with specialists who create solutions!’

‘In case of an emergency, I just drive to SKM in my Pagoda’

Ten years ago Roger Reijngoud searched the internet for a 3D rapid modeling expert. With the company EZ Powersteering, he and his partner technical director Ruud Jong, make electric power steering for classic cars. He asked SKM to scale down a classic steering wheel in such a way that it looks exactly like the original steering wheel that the oldtimer had when it left the factory at the time. This way the car looks original, but todays taller driver sits much more comfortable. We spoke Roger about his collaboration with SKM.

“Our customers want their car to keep a classic look, but have a little more comfort and safety. In addition to power steering for more driving comfort, power brakes are also often installed. This way you can also make an emergency stop in your classic car which contributes to safety. Classic cars from the 60s and 70s often have a fairly large steering wheel. People are getting taller and that makes getting in and out of a classic car more difficult. It also drives less pleasantly, sitting so close to the steering wheel. That is why we were looking for a 3D rapid modeling specialist, who could scale down a steering wheel while retaining the design.

From scan to steering wheel

Online I came across SKM. I discussed my requirements with manager Dirk and sent a scan of one of our steering wheels. SKM then made a 3D print for me. This way I could see, at a low cost, whether the smaller steering wheel would really look as good as the original. For my business it is very important that the steering wheel looks correct. The enthusiast can immediately tell whether the steering wheel of a car is correct or not. After taking a close look at all the details, such as the ridges on the back and the holes in the spokes, SKM makes a mold to cast the handlebars. They also have everything in house to create a perfect finish.

Jaguar XK150, Chevrolet Corvette C1 and Volvo 123GT

Our collaboration started with 1 steering wheel, but today SKM has made 10 different models for us and produced hundreds of items. From a Jaguar XK150 steering wheel to the steering wheel of a Chevrolet Corvette C1. A popular steering wheel is that of a Volvo 123GT. Only 1500 of those cars were made, but there are Volvo enthusiasts who turn their car into a Volvo 123GT replica with our steering wheel! When I was looking for a 3D rapid modeling company 10 years ago, I didn’t know if you could exactly scale down a classic original steering wheel, without compromising on the design. SKM proves that this is certainly possible. What I like about the collaboration are the short communication lines, flexibility and that I always contact Dirk. And if there is ever an emergency, I just drive to Helmond in my Pagoda.”

‘The higher the quality of the prototype, the more production issues can be prevented’

Before design studio DUNCE creates a new product, they ask SKM to make multiple prototypes. Owner Ruud Groeneveld explains why he has his models made in Helmond for his company located in Oestgeest.

‘After graduating in Delft, I founded our design studio together with my business partner Laurence Venne. What sets us apart from other studios is our pragmatic approach and focus on electronics enclosures. We don’t just design enclosures, we also engineer, test and produce the designs that we draw.

Preventing productionissues

Problems that arise after production tools have been made, can be costly and hamper our production time. Because we are also responsible for the production, we are super focussed on testing our designs. We test our designs by using multiple models during each production phase. To be able to properly test our designs, the quality of the prototype is very important. The higher the quality, the more production issues can be prevented.

High quality

For the production of our prototypes, we tried various 3D-printing companies, also in our own region. What sets SKM aparts is their high quality models. Their machinery is so accurate that all models are really smooth. Also the resolution of the stereolithography models is really high. As of recently, they can now produce injection moulded products in small batches. SKM makes sure that each prototype has a perfect finish, so we can see how a prototype works and looks in practice.

Testing mechanical properties

Another technique that we use often is vacuum casting. When designing electronics enclosures, the material choice is defined by the product specifications. By vacuum casting using polyurethane we can simulate the mechanical properties of different types of plastics. By doing drop, fire or IP-testing, we can assess if the mechanical properties meet the required product demands.

Good communication, flexibility and fast

SKM does not only deliver good prototypes, they are also straightforward when it comes to communication. When Dirk or Jeroen makes a commitment, we can rely on them. If something can’t be done, they inform us as soon as possible. And if a prototype looks different than designed? They simply adjust it. High quality, flexibility and good communication, that is why I work with SKM in every phase of product development!’

As a buyer I have to request three quotes, but I usually end up with SKM

Since 1985 Han van der Weerden has held various positions at Altran Engineering B.V. For the past years he has been working as a buyer. At the Automotive Campus in Helmond, the company creates proto-vehicles such as people movers, electrically powered trucks (converted from diesel) and other special vehicles. For years, Altran has prototypes and small series made by SKM. We asked Han why he works with SKM.

‘When developing a new product, the Altran engineers first make a design. After the release, a drawing is made in 2D and 3D and Han asks his suppliers for quotes. At Altran we specialize in prototypes and small series. That is our core business. I collect all technical information, the quantities and the required materials for each design and send it to various suppliers. They then make an offer, I select the best one and start odering. That’s our way of working.

Functional prototypes

The big advantage of working with SKM is that they give quotations quickly. They also give good advice about materials. In my early days, 3D printed material was quite brittle. What SKM prints for us today is almost functional. You can drill and bend the printed material. In addition to advising about which materials to use, they also look at the best production technique. For example, injection molding using a silicone mould. For every purchase order I formally have to ask three suppliers for a quote. But I almost always end up at SKM, because they have all 3D printing techniques in-house.’

‘Our collaboration started when they were still part of Philips. When they founded SKM, I remained a local customer’

Before starting their own company, the SKM founders Joop Soetens, Rudolf van Kersbergen en Jos Meulendijk – the letters refer to their surnames, worked at Philips. They were the pioneers in the field of 3D printing. Marco Blokzijl, Demand Manager Prototyping at Philips, met the SKM founders during those early days and always remained a customer. He shares his story why he is still doing business with SKM.

‘For over 41 years I have been working at Philips in Drachten as a prototyping engineer. For the last 30 years, I have been working with SKM to purchase models. This collaboration started when the founders were still working at Philips. When they started their own business, I remained loyal. When Philips has an idea for a new domestic appliance such as a vacuum cleaner or coffee machine, I provide a working prototype.

Top supplier

Over the years, I have developed a firm relationship with SKM. When I request them to develop a model, they understand what I need. I enjoy doing business with SKM, because they are friendly and follow up on agreements. This makes SKM a top supplier to me!’

The fact that SKM offers more than just 3D printing is not an advantage, but a gift!

When Jos Saanen, Buyer at Bosch Security Systems, needs a prototype he calls us. We asked him why he chooses SKM.

‘Actually, I’m already retired, but I still work 3 days a week at Bosch Security systems. I have been supporting the purchasing department there for more than 12 years. I order all the parts and services needed for the development of new security products. Bosch has been working with SKM for many years. When I need a prototype or mockup, I ask SKM to make it for me. I prefer to pick up the models myself in Helmond. When I wanted to have four security cameras painted for a trade fair in Las Vegas, they got it done within a week. The fact that SKM offers more than just 3D printing is not an advantage for me, but a gift!

They can not only make the models of our outdoor dome cameras, they can also finish them perfectly. SKM is a reliable partner for me that goes for quality. When I need a model quickly, they are always there for me.’

‘SKM quickly translates a drawing into a model. With this we can go to the trade fair!’

Jeffrey Koch, Technical product specialist at Inventum, has been having models made by SKM for years. We asked him how he likes the cooperation.

‘For us, SKM is a prototype builder who can do more than just make show models. They know very well how to make the technical translation of a drawing into a model. The collaboration is pleasant, because they stick to the agreements. There is good communication at every step of the process and they stick to deadlines.

Trade fair models

Every other year we present our new heat pumps at the VSK fair. A product is not always fully developed by then. Speed is extremely important when making a show model. After all, the trade fair is the perfect time to present our new product that we will bring to market. For the last fair, SKM made a visual model of our new Modul-AIR ventilation heat pump.

Fine-tuning together

Based on the 3D models, SKM made the show model. We have had a lot of contact about the grey edge as to what it should look like. We sent samples back and forth and finally Inventum opted for plastic because of its manufacturability. It is very pleasant to go through these fine-tuning steps together. Do you need a well-finished prototype or visual model quickly? Then I highly recommend SKM!’

‘Need a model quickly, for a good price? Then you need to be at SKM!’

Ronald te Vruchte, senior engineer at VanBerlo, has been working with SKM for many years. We asked him why he works with SKM.

‘As one of the largest design agencies in Western Europe, we work on a wide range of projects. Such as electric car chargers, different types of packaging and even fire-fighting tools that you use to cut cars into pieces. SKM converts our AutoCad drawings into tangible models for our customers. This allows you to test whether something fits well, how something feels and how big a design looks in real life. A 3D model makes an idea tangible.

Fast delivery
We work with a number of regular model makers. SKM always wins out on speed and price/quality ratio. When I deliver a drawing before 15:00, the model is often in my mailbox 2 days later. I even put our customer Worldline in direct contact with SKM when they needed a large number of ‘looks and works like real’ prototypes. I knew that SKM was the right partner who could make high-quality models quickly and with flexibility. If you want to have a model for a good price quickly, you have to be at SKM!’

‘SKM looks at my input with a designer’s eye’

Marnix Oosterwelder Industrial designer and owner of Rake Lijnen, is a happy customer. We asked him what sets SKM apartfrom others. 

“As an independent industrial designer, I am regularly hired by clients in the high-tech, toy and packaging industry. In innovation projects, I like to work with prototypes on a true scale, with which I can test the functioning or the user interaction. For this I often make use of the services of SKM. In doing so, they think along well, give advice and, when necessary, deliver a little faster. This distinguishes them from competitors. SKM looks at my input with a designer’s eye and thinks along with me. They understand what I mean as a designer and that makes the collaboration very pleasant.”

Photo: Katja Gruijters