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A new service lets engineers and inventors collaborate from the start.

Normally, inventors are finished when they arrive at the Sparton Corp. - prototype in hand.

But sometimes the product is more cumbersome and expensive to mass-produce than might be necessary.

Sparton, which started a century ago making parts for buggy wheels and now mass-produces electronics, has recently launched a new prototyping service at its facility east of Brooksville, Sparton Electronics.

The service, Sparton Express, is designed to maximize time and resources by bringing clients to the drawing board early in the process, while the idea is fresh - and before they've created a prototype that can't easily be mass-produced.

Gene Vigilante, Sparton's director of engineering services, who is based in Brooksville, described the new process as an express train. This allows Sparton's engineers and clients to collaborate at the very beginning, during the design cycle, rather than just at the end, where companies sometimes struggle in the transition from prototype to production.

Designers often focus solely on getting the prototype to work, paying limited attention to the manufacturing aspects, Vigilante said. Challenges include occasionally placing components too close together, making it difficult for an automated machine to manufacture it.

Production costs and quality suffer if prototypes are not designed correctly, with costs being greatly magnified during production because the company is building thousands of them, he said.

Sparton Express has a dedicated production line, which includes automated component insertion, X-ray inspection, automated optical inspection and design engineering labs, all directly compatible with machines used for mass production.

Such methods are intended to save the client money, and help Sparton compete in thiseconomic environment.

At its Brooksville facility, on Power Line Road, Sparton supports military, aerospace, medical, commercial and industrial-type products. Products range from small and simple to highly complex electronic PCB assemblies and subsystems.

While the Brooksville facility focuses on small to medium quantities, Sparton's overseas facility, Spartronics in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, can support much higher volumes of similar complexities.

Sparton's Brooksville facility currently employs an average of 175 people, although the number varies, depending on the number of products being manufactured.

The company believes Sparton Express will be successful in the long term and will ultimately lead to the creation of additional jobs in Hernando County.

Shary Lyssy Marshall can be reached at