From offices in Boise, Post Falls, Twin Falls, and Pocatello, TechHelp Specialists help Idaho manufacturers, food processors and entrepreneurs improve their competitiveness through continuous product and process innovation.

Preco Electronics Inc Logo

Profile 

Preco Electronics Inc. was established in 1947 by Edwin Peterson as a re-builder of automotive water pumps, batteries, starters, and generators. In 1967 Preco pioneered the invention of the electronic reversing alarm, which has been recognized and accepted in the commercial heavy equipment industry for over 30 years.  Today, Preco’s strong heritage brings a unique blend of high-quality engineering and manufacturing of rugged products for work-site safety and leading-edge technology solutions that solve business issues in the heavy equipment industries. Preco CEO, Jim Bean, helped found TechHelp in 1996 and served as TechHelp’s Advisory Board Chairman until 2008. Mr. Bean still serves on TechHelp’s Board and serves on MEP’s Advisory Board. 

Situation

Preco needed to create prototypes from CAD drawings using TechHelp’s Stereolighography machine. 

Solution 

TechHelp produced two rapid prototyping parts made from the Fused Deposition Modeling 3000 rapid prototyping machine at Boise State University.

Results

Preco Electronics Inc. has manufactured safety products for the major trucking and heavy equipment industry since the early 1970s.  As an industry leader in vehicle warning systems, Preco manufactures a backup alarm that will be offered with a lifetime warranty.  Failure in the field is detected when the alarm fails to make the audible alarm.  The sealed driver is manufactured using epoxy, magnets, a T yoke, a winded voice coil, and electrical connections.  In the field, it is subjected to dirty conditions from the construction environment and the fumes emitted from the host equipment and it is frequently subjected to high-pressure cleaning.  Premature failures can be caused by mechanical failures from the environment and by issues with the epoxy, component alignment, tolerance limitations between the magnets and voice coil, and debris from the manufacturing process. Tolerances are allowed in the manufacturing process.  The voice coil is nested inside two magnets and when the current is applied, the coil energizes and vibrates within the small gap to provide the harmonics creating the audible noise emitted from the speaker attached to the driver.  The gap the coil sits inside is minimized to maximize the flux density.  Failure occurs when debris from manufacturing falls into the gap collects to the side of the magnet when the driver is magnetized.  This debris causes limitations to the harmonics.  To overcome the debris, one could increase the current; however, this would cause additional heat that can alter the epoxy within the driver causing premature failures.

TechHelp studied and characterized the response signatures of induced or “known” defects that were purposely placed into the driver product.  TechHelp explored other possible testing processes other than the Frequency Domain Test.

The company needed to create prototyped parts with mirror reflective surfaces from electronic 3D models.

TechHelp produced prototypes made from the FDM/SLA prototyping machine at Boise State University, attempted to use mirror chrome paint, and finally resorted to a third party (client coordinated) to accomplish reflective surface. Working with TechHelp created the following impact:

  • $68K cost savings
  • $75K Investment
  • $16K avoided investment

TechHelp provides key services to Idaho entrepreneurs and small/medium size manufacturers who might otherwise not have access to such services. 

Jim Bean, President & CEO of Preco &
Former Board Chairman of TechHelp