R&D Center for Advanced Manufacturing & Energy Efficiency
The Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) is home to the R&D Center for Advanced Manufacturing & Energy Efficiency (R&D CAMEE). Established in 2010, R&D CAMEE provides three core services to small- and medium-sized businesses: Technology Adoption, Custom Production Runs and Applied Research.
Technology Adoption: We help businesses adopt the hardware and software technologies required for increased efficiencies in production. Whether it’s creating a digital rendering from a technical drawing, producing a full-scale prototype, or integrating automation, R&D CAMEE provides the expertise and industry insight clients need to move their businesses forward.
Custom Production Runs: R&D CAMEE uses its advanced manufacturing capabilities to create limited run productions of custom pieces. We serve a diverse clientele that includes international corporations like ABB, elite driving courses like Virginia International Raceway and entrepreneurs who are attracted to our technology, staff expertise and confidentiality. When a project requires a personal, custom touch, R&D CAMEE provides the solution.
Applied Research: R&D CAMEE take a hands-on, applied approach to research and development, emphasized through our philosophy of “little r, BIG D.” Theory is important, but at R&D CAMEE our goal is to leverage applied research that leads to new products, processes or industries. We oversee a diverse research portfolio with projects ranging from the production of affordable, energy-efficient housing to certifying Southern Yellow Pine as a building material for Cross Laminated Timbers. While the projects differ, they all have the common purpose of leading to the advancement of southern Virginia’s economic potential.
R&D Case Studies
Steinway & Sons
World renowned piano craftsman Steinway & Sons engaged R&D CAMEE to program its new Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) routers, and complete the post-foundry process machining on several of their grand and upright piano frames. R&D CAMEE’s advanced abilities in Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Machining (CAD/CAM) allowed Steinway to increase piano production, increase sales, upgrade machinery, implement more modern manufacturing techniques, and better function within the world of digital manufacturing.
Blind Stapler Project
Stewart Topp, owner of Topp Line Incorporated, reached out to R&D CAMEE to help create a new stapling tool named “The Blind Stapler,” which could revolutionize the cabinet making industry by allowing craftsmen to attach a face frame to a cabinet box within seconds. R&D CAMEE worked with Topp on product design, prototyping, and limited production runs. Topp was able to use information derived from the prototype to apply for a patent from the U.S. Patent Office.
New River Train Observatory
When a group of architecture students at Virginia Tech needed to bring a design to life, they turned to R&D CAMEE. Led by Professor Kay Edge, Virginia Tech College of Architecture & Design students designed a train-viewing platform for the city of Radford using Cross Laminated Timbers or CLTs, a sustainable building material that has been used for many years in Europe and Canada, but not as much in the United States. R&D CAMEE was tasked with producing and pressing CLTs using southern yellow poplar to create The New River Train Observatory, which now provides an attractive, sustainable observation deck along the banks of the New River in Radford.
Continuing a successful run of producing beautiful, custom trophies, R&D CAMEE produced Pinnacle Award Trophies for the American Society of Furniture Designers (ASFD). In addition to manufacturing the trophies in the Innovation Center’s advanced machining center, R&D CAMEE reached out to Virginia Tech’s Department of Sustainable Bio Materials to produce custom packaging for the trophies.
IWF Design Emphasis Trophy
The International Woodworking Fair (IWF) is held every other year in Atlanta. A Design Emphasis Award is given to advanced-level design students who excel in various categories, such as Occasional Furniture, and Seating. The winners receive beautifully curved solid wood trophy designed by the late Sam Maloof. Because IWF had a limited supply of the Maloof trophies, they approached R&D CAMEE to re-create the iconic award.
When the team at Virginia International Raceway wanted a custom trophy produced for the Oak Tree Grand Prix/Tudor United Sportscar Championship weekend, they came to the staff at R&D CAMEE. The R&D team was honored with the request to design and produce a trophy for one of the largest races at the nation’s premier road course.
Advances in Surgical Tool
Surgical correction of pectus excavatum was a complex and somewhat brutal procedure until Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters (CHKD) surgeon Donald Nuss developed a minimally invasive technique to correct it in the 1990s. In the Nuss Procedure, which is now used around the world, the surgeon threads a curved metal bar under the sternum to push it out into a normal position. The bar is then anchored to the ribs and remains in place for approximately two years so the chest wall can harden in its new position. Then the bar is removed during a second surgery. To solve a manufacturing problem which did not allow the original tool to be autoclaved (heated to high temperatures), the team engaged R&D CAMEE to create a tool component that could be autoclaved and thus reused for additional patients.