Despite its reputation for being at the forefront of marine product innovation over the past few decades, when it comes to the average offshore boater, Hardin Marine is far from a household name. And the Palm Coast, Fla., business is OK with that—its products are utilized extensively by boat manufacturers, riggers and service shops across the globe so the end user isn’t often a direct customer.
But lately there’s been strong consumer buzz surrounding the company thanks to its forthcoming turbocharging kits for Mercury Racing’s HP525EFI engine. But just as newsworthy—and admittedly more industry focused—is Hardin’s effort to remain at the forefront when it comes to product development. The latest demonstration, an obvious benefit to the average performance boater, is its investment in Rapid Prototyping 3D Machinery.
The next advancement in research and development, according to Scott Price, president of Hardin Marine, is Rapid Prototyping 3D Machinery, because the sophisticated equipment speeds up the time from conception to production. And when your company has more than 3,000 parts, ranging from supercharger kits and oil coolers to exhaust systems and hoses and fittings, that can be quite a difference maker.
“This type of machinery, while still expensive by today’s standards, allows us to basically buy time and eliminate fixture and tooling demands for small-run prototype projects,” Price said. “This allows us to make quick and affordable presentation prototype models throughout the design process as well as actual test units. We can explore multiple concepts quickly and affordably to review with everyone on the design team.
“With the development of so many products, we knew that to meet the demands we needed to build better-looking, better-performing and more-efficient parts that [are] needed to be able to speed up our production time,” Price continued, adding that the building and redesigning of products that once took four to six months just to get a sample part now can be done in a few days. “While not everything is apparent to the naked eye in a picture, it is definitely noticeable to our customers. Nearly every day we get increasing accolades from our customers as to just how superior our production parts have become.”
Although he credits Computer Numerical Control (CNC) equipment for providing enormous advancements in the quality of parts since the days of hand craftsmanship, Price said that the Rapid Prototyping 3D Machinery is a major step up from the CNC equipment found around most shops today. Plus, it’s cost efficient when it comes to the raw materials and tooling that is required when using a CNC machine.
“Who knows how many great ideas were just out of reach because of the CNC process?” Price asked. “Luckily the next advancement has arrived.”
Former Powerboat editor Jason Johnson was an integral part of the magazine staff from 2005 through 2011, utilizing journalistic integrity and experience in and around performance boats to report on all aspects of the go-fast lifestyle. The award-winning writer resides in Southern California and is the executive editor and co-publisher of speedonthewater.com, and writes for Sportboat and Powerboating in Paradise magazines.