The story behind the evolution of the Tinknocker Tool is a great example of entrepreneurial spirit exhibited in Marquette. Ron Aho, a local sheet metal worker, developed a product that will change a method of his trade for the better. After undergoing rotator cuff surgery from years of damage to his shoulders, he knew there could be a more efficient way to drive cleats as he installs HVAC ductwork. Instead of the traditional method of hammering, he invented the Tinknocker Tool: a hammer-drill attachment that provides the same installation without the fatigue of hammering the cleats above his head, while saving him half the time during the process.
Aho walked into Invent@NMU’s doors ready to move forward with his prototype after welding an initial unit himself. Right away, the student team found that his concept was truly unique and began working to get his concept in motion. Aho also received support from the engineering technology programs at Northern Michigan University where a professor, and Invent@NMU advisory panel member, saw the Tinknocker Tool as an opportunity for his advanced CNC Operations class to gain real-world experience by manufacturing a pilot run of 50 units. Aho’s experience with Invent@NMU’s process served not only as entrepreneurial success for him, but NMU students as well. “There are ideas out there,” he explained. “Invent@NMU is a place that wants to help you take that idea and turn it into a product. My advice for people is to just go on into Invent@NMU, tell them your idea and they will get you started.”