Walhonde Tools, Inc. is a West Virginia company that credits manufacturing assistance from TechConnect West Virginia’s Startup WV Manufacturing program as being instrumental in successes that are helping ensure the company’s growth and expansion.
The Kanawha county company designs, develops, manufactures and markets 10 different-sized patented precision tube and pipe fitting tools for the power, pulp and paper, petro-chemical, food and drug processing and shipbuilding/repair industries worldwide. Walhonde’s innovative tools:
- improve quality control as fewer welds are subject to x-ray,
- increase productivity ranging from 50 percent to 300 percent and
- enhance safety, eliminating most pulling devices.
Walhonde customers include many Fortune 500 companies, the U.S Navy, NASA, contractors and international concerns.
The company is a participant in Startup WV Manufacturing, a program funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration and administered through a partnership of TechConnect West Virginia and the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing (RCBI). By making the latest manufacturing technology available to companies, they can expand and create economic growth. Walhonde has been involved in the StartUp program for several months and is realizing tangible, significant benefits as a result.
Matthew P. McClure, Walhonde’s Tube & Pipe Tooling Manager, said Walhonde foresees a 50 percent production growth during the next two years, which he anticipates will enhance hiring opportunities from the revenue that this opportunity offers.
“For example,” he said, “we have used RCBI services to redesign one of our patented tube and pipe alignment product lines, which has enabled us to make modifications that improved several of its components. These changes have helped us address specific customer needs and concerns. We used the rapid-prototyping process and made 3D drawings of all of this product line’s components … and then we used the 3D printer at RCBI to make prototype components for further configuration and design. Once we completed this, we used the abrasive water-jet cutter, Swiss Turn and Okuma vertical machining center at RCBI Charleston to produce finished parts to integrate into the new tool model.”
McClure said the StartUp West Virginia Manufacturing program has given a face-lift to its products and “these improvements have opened doors to a large pipe-fitting company that before viewed our product as being insufficient.” As a result of the success of Walhonde’s participation the program, he pointed out that the company has hired a new full-time position and two part-time workers. He said he hopes to add another full-time machinist position in the near future.