How Buckeye Metal Works cut part design time by 50%

How Buckeye Metal Works cut part design time by 50%


Since 2020, the manufacturing industry had to adapt to disruptions in the supply chain and limited worker availability while maintaining production speed and increasing customization. Though initially experiencing a downturn in profit, metal fabrication is projected to go through an uptick in growth in 2023. Over the recent years, Buckeye Metal Works achieved a 50% design cut time for part designs using Shapr3D with a 20-person crew delivering customized metal fabrication products to customers throughout the Ohio area. 

With the ability to produce customized products on the fly while on the job, the crew is poised for growth. Let’s take a look at how.

Metal fabricated production line machine
Metal fabricated production line machine

Why Shapr3D

Vern Thacker and his team found that Shapr3D had the most options they wanted. Initially, Vern purchased his iPad and then found Shapr3D. Since then, he’s stuck with it because it’s “handy and clean.” When he decided to swap out Inventor for IronCAD, he incorporated Shapr3D simultaneously. Shapr3D was essential to meet the team’s need for a multi-device workflow to design and produce parts effectively. The switch helps the company save on costs while increasing production speed.

Vern uses Shapr3D because it makes designing and production smooth. A major draw for Vern is that he gets all the modeling tool options without having to go through 15 navigation bars to find the tool he needs. When it comes to exporting files to another major CAD platform, the seamless process lets him continue to work uninterrupted between his iPad and PC. 

Metal fabricated yellow platform with stairs and railings


  • Making changes to parts during installation can be slow and cumbersome
  • Commuting on-site to fill in measurements is a strain on time and cost-effectiveness
  • Designing on a PC creates back-and-forth resulting in installation delays and errors 


  • Multidevice CAD for on-the-site jobs
  • Save time with part prints on tablet
  • Fluid design to production 

About Buckeye Metal Works & Vern

Buckeye Metal Works is a custom metal fabrication company covering 100% of the design to the installation process for a product. The crew mainly uses stainless steel and aluminum to produce food-grade manufacturing systems, conveyor belts, and packaging systems. Vern Thacker runs the factory floor as the company’s foreman, managing a 6-20 person crew at any given time. At Buckeye, the CEO, Vern, and his staff found Shapr3D quick to pick up even with varying degrees of previous CAD background. The CEO uses Shapr3D to communicate design ideas while Vern does a bulk of modeling parts for manufacturing with Shapr3D. The field foreman mostly uses Shapr3D to show packages of drawings to clients while doing an assessment.

Smooth modeling & Visualization makes for faster product delivery

For Vern and his team, using Shapr3D is fluid and fast. Using Visualization in particular helps to skip unnecessary conversations about product changes. Customers quickly register what they’re looking at when they see a model with different colors and textures. The visualized product enables them to do spatial referencing, which speeds up the approval process.

“It’s everything you promised it would be.”

One assessment, immediate concepting

Instead of multiple commutes between the shop and on-site, Vern and his team take measurements and draft a part in one assessment. They use Shapr3D to quickly access product part models on their iPad, take measurements, and move on. This is a far more compact and time-saving option compared to how they got the job done in the past by carrying around a stack of prints of reference models.

“I can’t move [my PC] around my shop easily and readily so it kinda sticks me in one spot. When I’m in a 20,000-square-foot facility, that’s not easy.”

Immediate customization ability for beating deadlines

Metal fabricated bracket parts created by Buckeye Metal Works
Metal fabricated bracket parts created by Buckeye Metal Works

When on-site to install a custom product for a client, Vern’s field foreman often communicates changes needed while the same deadline still stands. If the team had 100% of the design done ahead of time, the job would never be done. As a custom metal fabrication shop, having the flexibility to make changes on the spot is a vital part of the job. 

Vern and the field foreman are able to work in sync from their separate locations on the shop floor and the client location. They quickly troubleshoot and produce customized parts during installation. Without any prior CAD experience, the field foreman makes needed edits to 2D drawings that Vern then turns into a working model for the foreman to produce on-site. Immediate communication and design edits using Shapr3D enable the team to customize on-the-job to meet local requirements and beat deadlines. 

Quick import with all-around compatibility

90% of the time, Vern uses Shapr3D on his tablet and exports models as a DXF file to complete production. He imports a DXF file into his CAM software, pulls it up in a GMA waterjet to set speeds and radio controls, and then it goes straight to production. Between the clean 2D Drawings and quick import, this gives Vern a fluid process.

“When we’re pushing a time crunch for a deadline, it’s really handy to just be able to walk right up to it and model it out in 5 or 6 minutes. Go right over to my machine, download it, and cut it out. Twenty minutes later, I have the part my guy needed to keep moving. It’s really sped up production in that sense - exponentially. It’s quite a bit of time saved. What used to take me an hour to an hour and 15 minutes now takes me a half hour. That’s exceptional time savings.”
Metal fabricated black railing with grate enclosing a coal fire pit
Metal fabricated black railing with grate enclosing a coal fire pit

Innovate with a next-generation design and manufacturing workflow.