Wednesday, February 28, 2001
New York--A low-cost ($20,000) CNC router from Techno-Isel
(www.techno-isel.com) and CAD/CAM
software changed Yoga instructor Juliu Horvath's labor of love into a going
concern. "The CNC machine helped me to express my artistic talent at a
commercial level by turning my new exercise concept into a profitable business,"
says Horvath, owner of White Cloud Studio in New York.
The multipurpose exercise machine, called the Gyrotonics Expansion
System, simulates movements used in ballet, swimming, gymnastics, and yoga.
"Because these activities involve sweeping, circular movements that involve the
whole body at once, the system is able to build strength without adding bulk,"
"The exercise concept emphasizes articulation of the joints and
strengthening of the surrounding ligaments in such a way that it makes the
connection between the bones much stronger," Horvath explains, "and each
exercise machine is customized to command a 'melodic movement' that increases
the individual's effective range of motion."
The base and support elements are made of Santa-Cruz-style wavy
red and blond woodwork, and are patterned after the swirling shapes of bonzai
trees. Other components are machined aluminum. Horvath started out building
wooden components with a jig saw using intricate templates to guide his hands,
and he heavily sanded each piece after cutting.
A key-selling feature of the equipment is that Horvath builds each
himself. But assembling one machine took too long to build because the jigsaw's
lack of precision meant that each part had to be individually fitted. "I didn't
have the time to build a profitable business," Horvath adds.
Switching to a computerized router changed all that. The tool cuts
the time required to build the machines by 80%, Horvath says. And he estimates
that a single order for five machines last year paid for the router.
Horvath himself is computer illiterate, but he has a friend who
converts his sketches into AutoCAD drawings, then uses a CNC programming package
called Mastercam (www.mastercam.com) from
CNC Software (Tolland, CT) to produce a file that the router understands.
Once the program is finished, Horvath operates the machine in his
workshop. When he wants to produce a part, he simply loads a piece of wood and
pushes a few buttons to start the machine. He does nearly all the manufacturing
work himself, although he does use part-time employees from time to time.