Blazing the Trail for Mobility

After son's accident, Tim Swenson and Action Manufacturing gets disabled people back to doing what they love with their all-terrain wheelchairs 

Action Manufacturing started out in the recreational motor sports business but in 2008, 10 years after his son’s accident which left him paralyzed, Tim Swenson knew he need to get his son back into the outdoors again.

“Originally, we were action sports doing business for recreation motor sports which my other son has now taken over,” stated Tim Swenson, President of Action Manufacturing.

Now Swenson focuses on the all-terrain wheelchair. Action Manufacturing manufacturers the Action Trackchair and Action Trackstander which is accompanied by a variety of accessory options ranging from rear utility racks, fishing rod holders, gun racks, footrests and more. 

Trackchairs have impacted not only the lives of the one’s using them but also their families’ lives. These chairs have made so much of an impact that Action Manufacturing needed to make some operational changes to keep up.

“Starting out we had no idea if we were going to sell 10 or 100 chairs. Now we have sold over 3,500. With the increase in demand we knew we needed a more efficient and more accurate system put in place,” says Swenson.

Outsourcing was something that needed to change with the increase in demand, this was a natural progression for Action Manufacturing. Swenson explained, “Before the laser, we had been outsourcing to a third-party that was plasma cutting our parts. But with plasma, there is a lot of clean up, grinding and it is less accurate. We wanted to bring more of our production in-house and we knew we needed a laser.”

The OPTIPLEX Fiber at Action Manufacturing's facility in Marshall, Minnesota

Initially, Action Manufacturing started out with a used 2kW Mazak CO2 laser machine but within 2 months Swenson knew they needed a new fiber laser. They knew this was the best way to produce their product with speed and accuracy. In late 2016, Action Manufacturing purchased the Mazak OPTIPLEX 3015 Fiber 4kW laser-cutting system. 

“Less than a year after purchasing the used laser, we bought the new fiber laser, explained Swenson. "We are now designing our products around the laser. We changed the way our chairs are being produced. We started with tubing and because of the laser we are now using sheet stock. This has allowed us to save time which saves money. We also have been able to utilize more aluminum instead of steel. With people in wheelchairs always wanting to go faster, further and for longer, aluminum is a better option."

With production increases and operational changes, Action Manufacturing needed more space. In spring of 2015 they moved into a new 24,000 sq. ft. facility and again in late 2016, they added an additional 12,000 sq. ft. With the increase in production and the new laser, Action Manufacturing needed more space.

“We went with Mazak because we wanted good service. As a company we want to provide good service to our customers, so we want that in return. We feel that Mazak has really good support,” said Swenson.

There is usually a learning curve when it comes to lasers and Action Manufacturing faced a couple minor hiccups with implementing the OPTIPLEX Fiber. Swenson explains, “You can have this happen with any product but what matters is how fast you react to help. Mazak has been quick to help us”.

With the Action Trackchairs impacting so many people, Action Manufacturing offer many tours of their facility. Swenson says, “We work with a lot of schools allowing them to visit our factory. When the kids see the laser they are floored. There is nothing like a Mazak fiber laser in Marshall, Minnesota. It is a lot of fun to show people that.”

The Action Manufacturing Team in front of their Mazak OPTIPLEX Fiber laser-cutting machine

Since implementing the Mazak fiber laser cutting machine, Action Manufacturing has also been able to work on offering new products. Swenson explained,“we are now working on military robot options, the Action Trackbot. They can be used for target practice and surveillance possibilities. We also started to produce the ActionTrackporter because of the new Mazak fiber laser.”

Unfortunately the trackchairs are not covered by medical insurance yet, but there are many options for someone to get assistance. One of these ways is because of Swenson’s wife, Donna Swenson, who is part of a foundation, the Action Mobility Foundation (AMF) which offers grants for partial payment of an Action Trackchair or Action Trackstander. This foundation is to help individuals who have limited mobility due to paralysis, spinal cord injury, disease and other conditions that prevent full mobility.

 For more information on Action Trackchairs and Trackstanders, check out the Action Trackchair website. If you would like to help or know someone who needs assistance to get a Trackchair, go to Trackchair’s funding options page.

Full article published in the July/August issue of Shop Floor Lasers.

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About Mazak Optonics Corporation

Mazak Optonics Corporation is a major supplier of laser-cutting systems, offering 50 laser models and leading the industry in the implementation of emerging laser technologies. The company’s 50,000 sq. ft. North American Headquarters are located in Elgin, Illinois, and feature a 30,000 sq. ft. laser technology center housing up to 18 machines for demonstrations and training. Mazak Optonics is part of Yamazaki Mazak Corporation (Oguchi, Japan), the global leader for the manufacture of machine tools and systems for the precision machining of metal parts, including CNC turning centers, horizontal and vertical machining centers, Multi-Tasking machining centers, turnkey cells and software solutions. The North American Headquarters for Yamazaki Mazak are located in Florence, Kentucky. For more information on Mazak Optonics’ products and solutions, visit www.mazakoptonics.com, email sales@mazaklaser.com or call 847.252.4500.