Custom Transformer House Carves Out Niche by Specializing in OEM Prototypes and Short Runs

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OEM turns to short run design and build firm for fast turnaround of custom transformers at right price.

For OEMs that produce a large quantity of product designs (20-50) annually, and require initial production or short runs (up to 500 units), finding a custom transformer design and build firm that is technologically reliable, provides fast turnaround, and offers the appropriate pricing point is critical to its own production efforts.

At first glance, this might not seem as difficult as it sounds; there are literally thousands of manufacturers of custom transformers throughout the United States. But not all are the same: there are high volume production houses and also those that specialize in prototypes and short runs.

According to Dennis Getter, president of Dimensions Unlimited, a company that ships 25,000 DC to AC power inverters every year, it is not unusual for an OEM to utilize multiple suppliers for custom transformers. However, for prototype and short runs, he turns to Nicollet Technologies (http://www.nictec.com) for the turnaround, service, reliability and price point he needs.

Dimensions offers a complete line of inverters capable of powering virtually any type of equipment. The bulk of the company’s inverters are 12 to 24VDC with an output of 120 or 120/240VAC. They also produce high voltage industrial products up to 300VDC input.

“Each different input voltage and each power level require a different electrical transformer winding scheme,” explains Getter. “Although we utilize three custom houses, Nicollet Technologies is considered our ‘short run’ house for its ability to respond quickly with good customer service and design capability at the right price.”

A custom transformer design and build firm, Nicollet Technologies specializes in OEM prototypes and short runs. Since 1969, Nicollet has produced more than 3500 different OEM designs for many industries.

According to Getter, the company began using Nicollet shortly after it started inverter development in 1986. Since then, Nicollet has produced hundreds of designs for the company.

Getter cites a recent challenge for the U.S. Marine Corp. and its Humvee that stretched the capabilities of both companies. Dimensions needed to produce an inverter at 10,000 watts for the vehicle that could withstand immersion in water up to 3 feet and still be able to be powered up within 15 minutes of exiting the water.

“The inverter had to pass the military’s immersion test and then still work properly, so we had to seal all the electronics including the power transformer,” says Getter.

The challenge for Nicollet was to find a method of waterproofing the power transformer without changing the envelope or size of the unit, while on a tight deadline.

“After a lot of experimentation, they found a special epoxy resin that allowed the coil to be waterproofed and ultimately the inverter passed the testing,” says Getter. “But this was definitely a stretch for both of us. The fact that they could find a solution in a short time was significant.”

In another recent example of “drop everything” turnaround, Nicollet was asked to produce a new electrical transformer design in two days. The product was ready for pick-up on a Saturday.

“We were on a tight deadline,” says Getter. “That’s the kind of above and beyond service an OEM needs.”

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