At Bent River we can engineer, design, fabricate, build, and install a range of custom tooling projects, from large and complex with several engineers and several months implementation schedule to simpler tooling projects with one engineer and a schedule of a few days or weeks. We are excited to be a partner with any size custom tooling project.

There are various steps or phases that a new project will go through, inclusing:

STEP 0: Customer Specification or discovery visit

STEP 1: Project Proposal

STEP 2: Concept Phase

STEP 3: Design Phase

STEP 4: Fabrication Phase

STEP 5: Assembly Phase

STEP 6: Test, Training and Delivery Phase

The Bent River Machine team would like to assist you to determine and define the processes in your business that can be improved by custom automation or custom tooling. Call us today 928.863.3850 or send an email to learn more find out how to become more efficient in your business.

STEP 0: Customer Specification or discovery visit

The moment you contact Bent River Machine to request a bid or make a proposal to partner on a project, we work hard to clearly define and understand your needs. If you are in need of tooling to improve your manufacturing process or improve your ability to handle and manipulate your product, we at Bent River would be happy to help you.

Discussions about custom tooling typically begin with the customer and Bent River executing a mutual non-disclosure agreement so both parties are comfortable sharing their processes and their ideas and solutions.

The custom tooling projects that we support happen in several different ways. Customers have invited our engineering team to visit their line and make recommendations on methods that their manufacturing process can be improved. These recommendations can become general specifications for new manual or semi automatic tooling.

Some customers know exactly what they want and come to Bent River with a clear specification. We work together with their engineering and operators to design and build the tooling that our customer requires.

STEP 1: Project Proposal

Getting a Custom Tooling Project Proposal

As soon as we have agreed upon the tooling that needs to be proposed, either through a discovery and interview process or from an actual specification that the customer provides, Bent River will go to work formulating a formal proposal.

Bent River will provide a proposal for the tooling with a time line, cost and protocol for test, training and delivery. This document will also include some sort of written or three dimensional definition of your tooling.

Once all of the details about the project and the basic needs are discussed, and the purchase order placed; the engineering team enters into the planning of the actual design and implementation of your tooling.

STEP 2: Concept Phase

During the concept design phase Bent River Machine will:

  • Analyze risks and work to eliminate or reduce them
  • Conduct failure analysis and time studies
  • Annualize and comply with ergonomic requirements
  • Create a three dimensional rendering of the tooling that can be examined and manipulated to determine its function
  • Communicate with the customer team to insure the tool being designed is meeting the needs of production.
  • The customer will finalize their specification and provide any product or existing equipment that will be integrated into the current project.
  • There will be a Design Review where Bent River and the end users to determine that the concept will work and meets the needs of their manufacturing department.

Once the customer approves the machine concept, it goes into the detailing phase where every piece is drawn and all the hardware and purchased pieces are defined.

STEP 3: Design Phase

You will receive a complete set of documentation as part of our deliverable when you receive the machine. During this phase Bent River Machine creates all the documentation so the machine can be built and the design captured.

We manage our design projects visually in our facility. There are specific people assigned to specific tasks. During this phase we work closely with both customers and vendors to avoid delays in the schedule due to missing information. Customers are always notified of schedule critical path issues.

Mechanical Design

Mechanical DrawingMechanical Drawing

There are all types of design projects. Typically they involve a mechanical engineer to design the hardware for the machine and do different analysis and calculations to prove the design. Each individual part of the approved concept will be detailed with the list of all hardware and other components required.

If the project is semi automatic or automatic tooling, there could be pneumatic or electrical design as well. This process will begin with a block diagram that will be come an electrical on pneumatic schematic.

Ergonimic design and safety will also be part of the detail design phase to insure that operators are as comfortable and safe as possible while operating the tooling.

Controls Design

Controls Design

If the tooling requires actual axis of motion, the tooling will have a PLC or some other device and is programmed by a controls engineer. This engineer will also use proven blocks of code for standard processes and then tie blocks together and provide for the unique characteristics of your piece of automation with code. We have significant experience with many different Programmable Logic Computers (PLC) architectures in our automation. In our own designs we often specify WAGO and Code Assist, a universal set of routines for PLCs. We select the PLC and Human Machine Interface (HMI), in collaboration with our client, to meet their needs and minimize the time it takes to write the logic for the motion in a machine.

The majority of our tooling projects are either manual or pneumatic tooling. They may include purchased assembly devices such as ultrasonic welders, screw guns, lift assisting tools, and many variations on positioning tools. There are many tools that are already designed and available as a purchased component that could be integrated into a tooling project. These devices would be part of the concept and specified in the design.

STEP 4: Fabrication

When the project is designed and approved by the customer and our internal team, it goes to planning and then out onto the floor of the machine shop. We have another visual board for managing the fabrication phase of the project. This is when the project really starts to become exciting because the paper/electronic drawing take shape and become three dimensional components.

Hass Machine Fabrication CNC

Our machine shop is made up of CNC and manual machines. Click here to download our complete equipment list.

Sometimes, during this phase or during final integration, the customer, or our team realizes that there is a problem with fit or interferences. Our machine shop always has time budgeted in their schedule to help solve an issue and provide a prompt new fabricated part. This is one of the truly unique things about Bent River and allows us to compress lead times and increase our design success.

STEP 5: Assembly Phase

This is the exciting phase when your tooling is put together. The detailed drawings have been fabricated and now assembled according to the final assembly drawings. This phase usually goes fairly quickly depending on the complexity of the tooling.

STEP 6: Test, Training and Delivery Phase

We will need to use the product that you have provided to prove in the tool and make sure that it does what the specification requires.

Depending on the complexity of the tool, some customers bring their operators to our facility to evaluate and buy-off the project. Occasionally we do the buy-off on film and ship the tooling to the customer. Bent River is available and committed to getting the tool integrated into our customer’s manufacturing line.


Our machine shop also builds parts for other customer’s designs. These projects begin with the customer providing a mutual non-disclosure agreement. The customer then provides their own design drawing for Bent River to quote and fabricate. We can accommodate all popular CAD formats and can send and receive encrypted files.

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