Project Profile Archives - American Precision Engineering


The Challenge:

When an aerospace company needed a tool storage solution for their rocket engine test area we were tasked with coming up with a way to secure large wheeled tool carts and protect them from the environment in a harsh desert climate.


In order to withstand the abuse of life on a rocket test stand in the middle of the desert, we knew that we needed to design using components that could withstand heat, cold, impact, lots of UV sunlight, and of course the normal wear and tear of an industrial facility.  It was for these reasons that we selected to use 10 gauge (.135”) mild steel for the body, and supports, and coat the box in a 2-coat epoxy paint designed for harsh environments.

To be able to have security, as well as quick access and durability we chose to use Diamond Rollup Doors. The Diamond doors are built for harsh environments and seal out the wind and the rain.

Since the work on a rocket test stand can run at night we incorporated LED fluorescent lights to give users a bright view.  Electrical outlets were also added to allow for charging stations for phones, computers, and batteries.

Our solution ended up being the perfect solution to roll large toolboxes into a safe and secure storage when they were not being used.

Custom Toolbox

The Results:

This custom toolbox was an elegant solution to a storage problem that not only looked amazing, but built to last, and improved the operation in several ways including:

  • Decrease in wasted time traveling to get tools
  • Convenient area to charge and store batteries
  • Better protection of their tools resulting in less maintenance.
  • Reduced safety exposure
Custom Toolbox


The Challenge:

We needed to make a custom industrial material handling system in record time.  A large international corporation had a bunch of oddly shaped, highly delicate, and heavy devices they needed moved into a building in Europe in 2 weeks.  This required that we design a custom industrial material handling solution for them with no room for error in record time.

The Solution:

With years of experience designing systems to lift, and manipulate large piece of bridge structures, Daniel Hester was the right engineer to design a solution that would work seamlessly.  It took just a few long days to design and engineer a system utilizing Solidworks that could be built in the shop and tested in less than a week from the initial phone call.  The final design was of a 3-piece assembly that could be disassembled to be air-freighted, as well as be able to move through a standard doorway.  The system allows a single user to move a 2,400 LB object with ease without the need for specialized training of additional equipment.  In addition to it’s strength, it also had to be designed to be cushioned at the points where it touched so that it didn’t damage the structure of the part, or it’s surface finish.  To accomplish this, a high precision ring was made with a rubber pad attached to hold it firm, but cushioned.  Because these units ship via air-freight the unit breaks down into a crate that is easy to move with a pallet jack or forklift and requires only one wrench to assemble after it is delivered.

Custom Device Mover

The Results:

The product worked perfectly for the customer who subsequently ordered many more units that were shipped all over the world.  Because of the fixturing system that we designed for this project we were able to copy-exact manufacture this product with only a few days lead time on future orders.

  • The success of the project resulted in dozens of units shipped around the globe
  • Significantly reduced labor costs for the customer
  • Eliminated the need for heavy machinery
  • Eliminated the need for high skilled craft personnel
  • Reduced safety exposure
Material Handling Equipment


HUET Trainer

The Challenge:

The challenge of this project was to design and build a simulated helicopter cockpit to be light enough to handle by two people, and able to be dunked upside down in a pool.

A police helicopter unit needed a platform that matched the interior dimensions of their helicopters that could be flipped over in a pool to simulate escaping a helicopter during a water landing.

The Solution:

We started the design of this structure by taking careful measurements of the cockpit of the police helicopter.  Taking this data, we designed the structure in Solidworks which not only allowed us to design parts for manufacturing, but let us provide 3D images to the police unit so that they could verify that our design met their design concept.

Because this structure needed to be manually handled, weight was a significant constraint.  It also had to have features such as headphone jacks, and door release levers to simulate the sequence the pilot would do in an actual emergency.

In order to keep the structure light, we utilized a chassis made of 1” aluminum tubing and .0625” 5052 aluminum sheetmetal.  The aluminum and plexiglass doors were attached the chassis with magnets so that the pilot would have to push on the door hard to get it to unlatch, like what would occur in an actual emergency.


The Results:

The HUET device that we designed and built resulted in several improvements for the police helicopter unit that include:

  • Lightweight training device that can be transported easily in a pickup truck
  • Ergonomically similar to an actual helicopter
  • Increased safety of police helicopter pilots


Custom Machine Design

Hydraulic H-Frame Press Design

The Challenge:

The challenge was to design a simple, safe, and efficient H-frame press that was to be used hard every day of its long life.  Almost every shop in the world has an H-Frame press.  And almost ever single one of them is cumbersome, unsafe, and inefficient so we wanted to design a custom H-Frame hydraulic press that would improve safety, productivity, and ease of use.

Hydraulic Press Design

The Solution:

The fabrication of the custom H-Frame hydraulic press started by designing the machine using Solidworks CAD software.  Because we are always striving to optimize the ergonomics of any manufacturing operation, we decided to design the press the opposite way of every other press.  Instead of the work surface having to be adjusted to fit the piece in the press as standard units are designed, we designed our press to have the work surface stationary and have the hydraulic cylinder support be adjustable not just horizontally, but vertically. This allows a wide range of part sizes and shapes to be worked on at an optimized working position, which improves safety, and productivity.

While most presses require either multiple people, a forklift, or some combination of these to adjust, we designed our press to be adjustable by a single operator in seconds.  To make adjusting simple and easy, we utilized pneumatic cylinders to adjust the massive upper press section through a single hand lever.   The horizontal adjustment is accomplished through sliding the hydraulic section on precision cam bearings to its needed location.

The 30 ton hydraulic cylinder is powered by an Enerpac air/hydraulic pump that is foot operated.  Since the pump is air powered as well, it means that nothing more than shop air is needed to power this entire system.  Having a foot-controlled hydraulic cylinder frees up the operators hands to support large pieces when needed which eliminates the need for a helper.

Because flexibility is important in lean manufacturing, we designed the press to also be able to be moved quickly, and safely with nothing more than a pallet jack.  This allows the press to easily be moved to the best location in the shop depending on the current work-flow of the projects.

Hydraulic Press Design
Hydraulic Press

The cylinder can be moved from left to right easily by hand 

Hydraulic Press Design

Upper Assembly in the Lowered Position For Small Components

Hydraulic Press Design

Upper Assembly in the Raised Position For Large Components

The Results:

This custom hydraulic H-Frame press design resulted in a wide range of improvements for the shop including:

  • An efficient, production grade hydraulic press used daily with minimal maintenance.
  • Improved operator safety over standard H-frame presses.
  • Improved worker ergonomics because of its standard working height.
  • Improved productivity in tasks such as broaching, pressing bearings, straightening, and dimpling.
  • One of the coolest looking tools in any shop.
Custom Hydraulic Press


13610 Immanuel Rd, Pflugerville, TX 78660