There’s a great pair of articles on Straightline’s manufacturing over on MMSOnline. The first talks about the company’s highly automated CNC manufacturing in general. Straightline makes Mountain Bike components, and was started by a family working together.

Here is a typical part, a stem:

Straightline Stem

While Straightline is a Canadian company based in Vancouver, rather than an American company, that takes nothing away from the story they have to tell, which is a story that works equally well in this country. The company started out in a garage as a Job Shop, and about 1/3 of their business is still manufacturing for others. After they lost their biggest customer as a result of the dot com bust, they decided they needed some products of their own to manufacture, so they could be more in control of their own destiny.

What particularly struck me about the company was the description of its machining department consisting of “two and a half men”. Initially that was a father and son working full time, and the younger son working half time while he learned the trade. As the company has grown, they still employ the equivalent of two and a half machines, having focused on serious productivity and automation. There’s a lot of good information in the mmsonline article about how they approach manufacturing.

Straightline Tombstone

Tombstone on a pallet with several different types of parts waiting for a turn in the horizontal mill…

 

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