Purdue engineering student starts machine shop to manufacture prototypes

June 30, 2015  


Purdue mechanical engineering major Gregory Stillinger shows a copper X-ray shield he manufactured at the Anvil, Purdue's on-campus co-working space for students. Stillinger founded General Solutions LLC, a startup that manufactures prototypes, one-offs and short production runs for small companies and research groups. (Purdue Research Foundation photo) 
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Gregory Stillinger, a senior in Purdue's School of Mechanical Engineering, has started a machine shop called General Solutions LLC to create prototypes, one-offs and short production runs for small companies and research groups.

Stillinger said the company bridges manufacturing and engineering.

"Sometimes designs work well in theory, but for them to work in reality, you need to know how to make them and how much they cost," he said. "General Solutions appreciates the interplay between the two fields and understands the language of both."

Stillinger said General Solutions offers several competitive advantages.

"My services are provided at competitive pricing compared to other shops in the area, and I can provide a lead time as short as 24 hours depending on the job," he said. "While many machine shops require ISO standard drawings, I can start with a CAD model or even just a sketch."

Stillinger works mainly with a lathe and a mill, but he also takes jobs that would typically require other equipment and capabilities.

"I'm always looking for excuses to broaden my equipment base and make new connections," he said. "With my engineering expertise and experience, I can do things that typically wouldn't be done with the tools I have."

Stillinger contacted the Purdue Foundry and participated in LaunchBox, a program that helps Purdue inventors and founders find the value proposition of their ideas. He also set up his new shop at the Anvil, Purdue's student and community co-working space.

"The 50-minute drive from my old shop in Lebanon was becoming a problem logistically," he said. "So the Purdue Foundry helped me get a spot at the Anvil and made sure I could move in all my machinery."

Stillinger said General Solutions serves a wide variety of clients, from physics research and robotics development to individual hobbyists and entrepreneurs. He sees General Solutions adapting to a more decentralized business model in the future using computer controlled machines.

"With CNC, or computer numerical control, you can have a functional business model with a single person who puts in the code that the machine understands," he said. "The machines are expensive, but the greatly increased flexibility and greatly decreased overhead mean they pay for themselves quickly."

Stillinger said his education at Purdue will help him receive his professional engineering license, which is needed to provide engineering services in an official capacity. He also credited a lively research community during his undergrad research.

"Through undergraduate research, I met some of the most forward-thinking people in the Purdue mechanical engineering community," he said. "My adviser in engineering was always thinking outside the box, and was encouraging and understood the flexibility I needed."

About General Solutions LLC

Founded by a Purdue mechanical engineering student, General Solutions LLC is a company in West Lafayette, Indiana providing design, prototyping and short-run manufacturing services. From furniture construction to physics research, General Solutions meets the needs of its diverse clients using a creative toolbox built with a passion for learning. For more information, contact Gregory Stillinger at gregory.stillinger@outlook.com.

About the Anvil

The Anvil is a co-working space at Purdue University that serves the unique needs of passionate students, acting as a center of creative culture in West Lafayette. The Anvil focuses on providing local and student-run startups affordable office space.

Purdue Research Foundation contact: Steve Martin, 765-588-3342, sgmartin@prf.org

Sources: Gregory Stillinger, 317-627-5027, gregory.stillinger@outlook.com

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