Meadow Creature LLC is a modern metal fabrication and machine shop. We do all sort of interesting work for other people, but our heart is in designing and bringing our own products to market. Most parts are made in-house, from bulk raw material to finished assemblies using our own staff and equipment.
Here is a pallet of high strength alloy steel plate, pre-heat-treated, the same material used for bulldozer blades and bridge beams. These are about to become the press arch and support ribs, that weigh only 25 lb in finished form but can resist 12,000 lb of fruit pressing force without coming anywhere near their strength limit.
After design, our manufacturing process begins with a 21st-century technology called abrasive waterjet machining, that cuts through (almost) anything using a jet of fine garnet abrasive accelerated to about mach 2 using ultra-high-pressure water, under precise computer control. It's an expensive process both in terms of up-front cost and operating cost; the machines cost as much as a house; but it enables a fundamental new way of making durable metal products, with less waste and less environmental impact.
Press frames being cut on the abrasive waterjet.
These are the main grinder case components, cut in 12 gauge stainless steel, fresh from the waterjet, waiting to be press-formed into 3-dimensional components.
All the steel components that get press formed and/or welded into subassemblies, and then sent out for a powder coat finish.
The stainless steel shaft and blade assembly is tricky to fabricate, and requires a purpose-built jig to hold parts in precise alignment for TIG welding.
The finished weldment in a tough, weldable stainless steel.
The actual cutting blades are a harder stainless steel, that holds an edge better, and bolt on to facilitate replacement.
The grinder case after forming and welding, prior to mechanical assembly.
The motor and belt enclosure box slides on bolts to adjust the belt tension. The belt sheaves are standard industrial components using taper lock bushings for low vibration and a long service life.
The grinder assembly station for the first production batch. The grinder uses about two dozen different fasteners, all stainless. The blue bins show about half of them. All the tools on the table are required for one step or another in the process of assembling the mechanical and electrical components.
A finished grinder.
We cut the baskets in 18 gauge stainless steel, that's just under 1/16" thick, and press-form them to create smooth columns on the interior, so the tight-fitting press plate can push down the bag without tearing it. The basket is reinforced with three bands to ensure they never stretch, so the plate will always fit snug. The copper-colored cylinders are called Cleco's, they're a sheet metal tool from the aircraft industry that facilitates alignment of parts with many rivet holes. The five mating parts are jigged up square using Cleco's, and then the Cleco's replaced with high-strength stainless steel rivets.
Off season, we think the baskets could serve OK as truck jack stands :-)
The above shows some of the steps in making a complete Avalon Cider Press package. Thanks for reading.
We think American manufacturing is alive and well, at least for products made with an emphasis on design, and marketed directly to quality-conscious customers.