Archive for April, 2012

Inside Look: AGAM Employees

What are the keys to any company’s success?  Its employees!

AGAM is a company that is made up of diverse people who share a common drive for success.  This starts with our owner, and it carries down to every single employee.

AGAM believes that an employee’s growth potential is the key to longevity and overall satisfaction in the work place.  When we hire new employees, we know that there will be a steep learning curve due to the complexity of our product line.  So we hire people with strong character and positive attitudes because it is required that new employees be able to reach beyond their current capabilities and acquire new skill sets.   This is beneficial for both the company and for the employee’s pocket book.

EXAMPLE: Designers

Skill wise, designers hired by AGAM are mainly chosen based on their AutoCAD and SolidWorks proficiency.  The initial and primary function of an AGAM designer is to assist Project Coordinators with the design of client projects.

SolidWorks Cubicle

AutoCAD Booth Design

However, each designer is gradually given additional responsibilities one of which includes being assigned to one of our sophisticated machines to learn and oversee its function.   This allows the designer to get external training and manage all technical aspects of a machine such as our laser, waterjet, CNC Press Brake and CNC Roller Benders.  This comes in very handy when the designers are doing custom parts for client drawings and for R&D.  While discussing projects/products with their peers, they are quickly able to determine the feasibility of any given new product or idea.

Photographed above from upper left to lower right is AGAM’s laser, press brake, roller bender, and waterjet which are some of the machines that make up AGAM’s sophisticated Machining Center.

Recently we created a new part, the 290 FS 42 steel miter connector.  Sam, its creator is in charge of our Trumpf CNC Press Brake and he spent two weeks in training for both operation and programming.

The first step in designing the 290 FS 42 was to model it in SolidWorks.

Once drawn, Sam needed to discuss the cutting of the parts with Tamas who is in charge of the laser.

For bending the parts, Sam was able to transfer the SolidWorks file into the CNC Press Brake.  Below Sam is seen working with Allan (The CNC Press Brake and Laser Operator.) who just got back from a week’s worth of training at Trumpf in Connecticut.

Finally, the part is bent on the press brake.

It took some minor tweaking, but after minimal trial and error a new AGAM part was born.  This part now lays the groundwork for four other similar products soon to be released.

This is but one example of how the people of AGAM grow the company from within.  AGAM and its employees are committed to bringing products that are aesthetically pleasing, more sophisticated and cost-effective to the market place.
With the hard work and dedication our employees, AGAM’s future is very bright indeed.

The Influence of Architecture on Exhibit Design

While walking around a show floor during a convention, I am always wondering where people get their design ideas.  Possibly because I am curious to know what motivates people to design great exhibits and displays.  Or perhaps I want to know why I didn’t come up with idea myself.  Barbara Grizzuti Harrison, an American writer said, “There are no original ideas. There are only original people.”  I believe this.  Therefore, I try to be original but build on multiple people’s ideas .  A lot of times I find architecture to be an excellent starting point.  I also see the influences of architecture in other designers work.  Below are some of my favorite examples.

Often, I see technology being borrowed from architecture to make exhibits.  One very old example of this is the Crystal Palace.  Built by Joseph Paxton for the 1851 World’s Fair in London, this building was made using cutting-edge technology during the Industrial Revolution.  It used prefabricated cast iron components, inspired by its precursor, The Victoria Regia House.  He designed it using an on-center grid; therefore each beam was either the same as the previous one or half, or twice its size. After the Great Exhibition, the building already 92,000 m² was dismantled and rebuilt on a larger scale in a new location which eventually burned down in 1936.  AGAM’s set of beams and posts and its grid system are definitely inspired from this particular approach.

A more recent example would be the use of fabric.  Fabric is light weight which makes it easy to transport and easy to use.  Now, fabric has been around for a long time and the use of it to make walls and ceilings is certainly not original.  A good example of the use of fabric (but certainly not the first time it was used in building architecture) is the Sails Pavilion in San Diego.  I have personally seen it and can say it is beautiful.  Fabric is one example that I think the exhibit design industry has expanded on and has made it its own.  The silicon edge graphics, known for short as SEG, was made specifically for the exhibit and display industry and is definitely an evolving trend in design.   AGAM continues to expand on this product with introducing new extrusions and accessories for its use.

Sometimes, it’s not a specific piece of architecture that inspires us but it’s the style of architecture instead.  This booth from the 2010 SEMA Show, that AGAM helped build, was made to look like a 50’s diner.  The sharp angles of the roof, along with the colors and accessories (and cars) are iconic and unforgettable.  Thanks PPG.

The next time you’re at a show, take some time to look around and think about the design of booths.  Take notice by observing the crowds.  Follow the way they walk and the pattern of their eyes.  I personally was amazed to notice that a design gets only a few seconds of wandering eyes.  If it is eye-catching, you will notice the movement of the individual’s feet slow down to it becoming erratic.  This is when design wins.

A lot of time and effort goes into creating these one-of-a-kind works of art.  If you’ve read this far, you are obviously interested in exhibit design.  Comments on this blog are welcome.  Perhaps you’ve seen something I missed.  Or maybe you disagree with something I said.  The feedback is always appreciated.

Designing a Product Display Kiosk for AGAM’s Exhibit Booth

For the past 20 years AGAM has introduced new products and services to the trade show industry at the EXHIBITOR show.  Each year we build on our experience from past years.  If you were at the show in March 2012 and saw our booth, you may have noticed one area of focus that we devoted more attention to than in past years; our product display kiosks.  The following is a description of the design and fabrication process of the kiosks (pictured below on the trade show floor).

The first step to any well-focused design project is to understand objectives.  The primary goal for the kiosks was to function as a tool to feature our latest products and services. Because there were so many new and complex products to show we created separate “stations” to allow a flexible arrangement on the show floor and  included supplemental digital content to reinforce the product presentation.  Floor traffic can be unpredictable; therefore we wanted something that could adjust accordingly.  One large single kiosk would not allow this option.  Also, the newest addition to our service capabilities profile is our custom sheet metal design and manufacturing.  We decided our kiosk design should highlight this capability.

After identifying these objectives for our product display kiosks, we started formulating ideas and sketching a variety of options.  As a team, we reviewed the drawings and voiced opinions on what we thought would or wouldn’t work and why. This process helps us understand expectations and reveals insight on what the final solution needed to be.  Adjustments were directly modeled in the computer.    This allowed us to assign accurate dimensions and see the real proportions of the design.

After settling on a single semi-developed design, we built a mock-up.  Proportions may look correct on-screen, but nothing substitutes being able to see and touch the design in full-scale. The photo below is of our mock-up made with cardboard.    From this, we identified some further adjustments needed.

We then used the computer model to create the manufacturing data.   We  use the computer model and process it using our “unfold” software.  This program takes into account the material properties, thickness, angle, and exact tools that will be used to form the part in order to generate the correct cutout shape and size.  This is important because metal stretches when bent.  The computer  calculations assure precision of our finished part with a degree of accuracy measured  in 1000ths of an inch.  All bends are processed through a simulator to double-check for the risk of possible collisions or interference at the machine.  Once everything is confirmed, pieces are cut on our laser cutter.  This happens very fast and we are able to start forming our first “working” prototype almost immediately.

With our first real prototype, we can test the kiosk as well as the manufacturing process.  One important aspect we discovered was the space for the iPad screen needed to be larger.  Contact with the sheet metal was causing interference with the touch response.   From this point, the design is in its “final form.”  We went through all product groupings and made a unique layout configuration for the kiosk upper shelves that optimized each product presentation.

At this point, production took on full speed ahead.   All 5 kiosks and the parts were cut and bent.  To add color and protect the finish, everything was powder coated.  And finally, each kiosk was test assembled.

It is vital to showcase your products in an appropriate custom display that will grab your audience’s attention.  Our goal to showcase our latest products and services was accomplished through the use of custom display kiosks which proved to be effective during the show.   Visitors were enticed to handle the sample products, ask questions, and to visit each kiosk. This hands-on presentation was a successful approach in providing the comprehensive overview of our capabilities, products and services that we wished to share with visitors at the show.

If you have a custom project, feel free to contact us to discuss at

AGAM’s Exhibitor2012 Booth Design: How It Came About

AGAM EuroShop 2011 booth

The design of the Exhibitor2012 booth found its origins in AGAM’s very successful booth for EuroShop 2011.  The EuroShop booth was well accepted and praised by many visitors.  It proved to be an exceptional layout for presenting information and retaining an open feel at floor level.  With the success at EuroShop, we felt it could serve as the design language for future AGAM booth designs, thus the upcoming Exhibitor booth.

Design ideation #1

Early concepts and sketches contained cubes (the same theme as those used in the EuroShop booth).  Through the exhibit concept progression we acknowledged the fact that the 2012 booth needed to contain more information to present to visitors than the EuroShop booth.  With the increase of information there came a need for access to visual information from any location in the booth.

We then re-engineered the design of the cubes, by removing the inside quadrants.  The cubes went from being closed entities to being just corners.  From the outside of the booth, it would appear to be four cubes while the inside would be one large cube.  The inside cube area would become additional graphic space.

Design ideation #2

We also set out to exceed what had been achieved with the EuroShop booth design.  The EuroShop booth was an attention-grabber because of its design, but we wanted the Exhibitor booth to be a shinning beacon to grab everyone’s attention.  In the overhead area of a booth, which is normally dark or dimly lit, we saw an opportunity to have a “shinning beacon”.  We made the decision to back-light the entire upper structure.  This would draw a potential visitor’s eye from much farther away.  The large, vibrant, glowing, colorful structure would stand out above the crowd, literally.

With the schedule of shows that AGAM is attending with different show parameters we realized we would be working with 20’X20’ and 20’x30’ floor spaces.  Therefore the booth needed to be modular with the ability to transform from a 20’X30’ for Exhibitor to a 20’x20’ for future shows.  The transformation would also have to be seamless so the booth looked clean and complete in both size configurations.

In the area that would have to yield the space for the conversion between 20’x30’ and 20’x20’ we needed units that looked complete in the 20’x30’ layout and were not visually missing when looking at the 20’x20’.  In continuing with the cube and rectilinear feel of the booth we decided on using a square for this section.  However we also wanted to “connect” the overhead structure to the ground to make a comfortable transition between the two.

With the overhead making such a bold monolithic statement we felt that giving the booth an architectural feel would be appropriate.  We did some design studies and sketch groups to explore the leg elements and how they could best convey such architectural feel.   I used simple shapes with a subtle detail to give visual interest and lighten their look and feel.  As much as we were working towards an architectural feel we still wanted to have a “wow” factor.  The “wow” factor is the component that makes the visitors ask “how did they do that”.  To achieve the “wow” factor we decided to make the individual sections of the booth look like they were floating and independent.  This was achieved through the hanging of the sections and spacing plates that held the independent pieces in the right position and orientation without being obvious.

Final design sketches

Check back for the a blog on the booth construction and it’s about its presence on the trade show floor.

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