CAD/CAM FOR CNC PUNCH, LASER AND COMBINATION OPERATIONS
The 35 employees at Luterbach AG (Hildisrieden, Switzerland) manufacture painting and coating equipment that serve a portfolio of industries ranging from aeronautics and aerospace to automotive and beyond. Several years ago, the company launched a study on the feasibility of replacing its programming system for a TRUMPF 200R punching machine. At that time, their previous software was still DOS-based and offered only limited network compatibility, meaning files had to be generated and stored locally. There were significant errors made when programming and the time it took to generate parts and nests was also a major problem, with nests often taking hours to create. Data integrity was a major concern, with bugs often rendering programs useless. The review also explored an investment in 3D CAD systems, which was purchased the same year.
The basic Expert 1 system was purchased initially from JETCAM International s.a.r.l. (Monaco) based on its strong price/performance ratio in comparison to other systems considered, and because it was much better suited to Luterbach’s smaller one-off jobs rather than other systems that specialized in mass production. The TRUMPF 200R has since been replaced by a TRUMPF Trumatic 600L punch/laser combination machine. “The investment in this software, in combination with a 3D CAD design system, was a massive improvement, cutting programming time and error rates significantly,” said operations manager Herbert Wyss. “One of the key factors was its ability to work with a broad range of CNC punch, laser and combination machines from different manufacturers, as we wanted to leave our options open for the selection of a sheet metal processing machine to be purchased down the road.”
Nesting was initially set up manually, with Luterbach upgrading later on to Expert Premium with free-form nesting, which immediately reduced waste materials significantly. One benefit that came to light was the built-in collision avoidance logic. The system can be set up to automatically avoid forms and clamps, either by lifting the head over the area or avoiding the area altogether. Once set no further interaction is required by the programmer as the logic is applied automatically. Wyss noted that since the software had been installed, collisions “simply never happened anymore.”
Luterbach identified that further savings could be made by streamlining processes between the 3D CAD system and Expert Premium. In-house training was organized with JETCAM Composite GmbH to answer all of their questions and ensure a smooth process from CAD file to nest. Features such as SCAP (Single Component Automatic Processing) allow CAD files to be automatically imported and tooling applied so that they are immediately available for nesting. The software was later expanded to include the JETCAM Orders Controller (JOC) Premium order management module that provided a remote interface to JETCAM order and nest databases and allowed Luterbach to create dynamic work lists of parts to be queued for nesting. A CSV API was developed to allow direct import of job lists from Excel. The shop also commissioned several other add-ons to simplify the handling of jobs. As a result, a recent order containing over 1,250 parts that previously would take 34 hours (four working days) to process was completed in eight hours – over 400 percent improvement.
Workshop manager Marco Brun was impressed with the effect that the addition of JOC Premium had on their workflow. “Our acquisition of JOC Premium has reduced programming times alone by 40 percent to 60 percent due to its automation of CAD import and nesting. It was undoubtedly the best financial decision we have ever made.”
SHEET METAL FABRICATION SOFTWARE FOR SHIPBUILDING
Lantek Systems, Inc. (Mason, OH), a multinational leader in CAD/CAM/MES/ERP solutions, has incorporated specific functions for sheet metal design, nesting and machining for the shipbuilding industry.
The ability to adapt to specific sheet metal fabrication needs is the competitive difference in the functionality of this software, which draws from experience in sheet metal related sectors such as automotive, construction, iron and steel, the production of large metal structures, railroads and the naval sector, with a total of more than 14,000 customers in more than 100 countries. In the shipbuilding industry, years of research and development of tailored software solutions that optimize the processes of sheet metal design, nesting and machining make these processes more cost-effective for the construction of ships and other vessels.
Leading manufacturers in the industry, such as Hyundai, Navantia, Astilleros de Murueta, Ravestein BV and others use this technology, which includes CAD importers that are compatible with the top ship design systems on the market. The software has options for machining management, including loops and chamfers that help in programming cutting machines, rotating triple torches and programmable clamps to allow very long pieces to be cut. The dedicated technology ensures that results are 100 percent faithful to the generated design. Specific options for the naval industry include the ability to manage cutting with multiple torches to increase the production of each machine, continuous cutting to eliminate drilling times and increase the wear life of the cutting nozzles, and the ability to manage any marking, engraving or piercing process available on the machine.
Cutting applications include automatic and semi-automatic nesting algorithms, as well as nesting for multiple torches that, among other benefits, allows users to optimize material utilization and reduce machining times. Advanced features enable nesting and automatic machining of double and symmetrical sheets, comprehensive control of sheet remnants, and pre-nesting to select the ideal sheet format with the best performance. Other functionalities include time and cost calculation, preview of machine loading, and traceability and integration with any existing management system.
INSPECTION SOFTWARE FOR TUBE BENDING
AICON 3D Systems Americas Inc. (Plymouth, MI) has released BendingStudio 2.0, the latest version of their BendingStudio software that connects all data and processes around the production of bended parts, from production and process planning to manufacturing and quality control. It is the only tool to meet and combine these requirements with emphasis on metrological processes.
BendingStudio 2.0 offers many new features that facilitate daily work in tube bending production. The main innovation is “data service.” If BendingStudio is installed on several workstations, interconnected users benefit from a shared access to the same stored content. Users at the shop floor or in the office can create, call up, or even modify component data and inspection plans to optimize work processes. The planning process can be physically separated from production so that shop floor operations are not disturbed or interrupted to save time and money. Data organization has been completely revised. Content is now arranged in tree structure, i.e. in thematic groups with up to four subfolders that guarantees a better and clearer survey.
Another new module is CAD Reverse Engineering. A component’s bending data are automatically derived from CAD and a bending program is created. Users simply upload their IGES or STEP data into the software, which are then displayed in the program. The bent part can be extracted, and a complete bending program is provided within only a few minutes. The element “BD Freeform” is a new correction strategy for bend in bend and bends with correctable radii. For this, the user selects a freeform-gauge inspection. The optical measuring system TubeInspect captures tubes with freeform bends within seconds, and the program calculates the corresponding correction data. Holders of appropriate licenses and a valid software maintenance contract will receive the new BendingStudio Version 2.0 with the next software update.
HARDWARE/SOFTWARE FOR PLASMA AND OXY-FUEL CUTTING
OPENCut is the latest CNC hardware/software solution for plasma and oxy-fuel cutting from OSAI USA (Chicopee, MA). Designed to optimize startup, productivity and cutting quality, this system comes complete with all elements needed for plasma 2D, bevel and oxy-fuel cutting. The OPENCut system is a complete modular solution that is customizable according to the needs of an original equipment manufacturer. The system modules are from OPENCut and are specifically designed for the OPEN control OSAI CNC, up to the multi-touch operator panel, drives and I/O systems controlled via EtherCAT fieldbus. The plasma generator system is available in 120 amp, 250 amp and 420 amp sizes equipped with automatic gas console.
The OPENCut, HMI and CAM software with 2D and 3D graphics for profile definition, has pre-defined icon libraries and automatic nesting of different profiles. Utilizing advanced software modules and hardware components, OPENCut simplifies installation, startup and time to market, reports OSAI. Included in the system package are graphic, multi-touch SW oriented HMI with 2D and 3D graphics for program execution control, easy-to-customize machine logic specifically designed for plasma/oxy fuel, offset management compensation of bevel cutting parameters, 3D cutting head control, newest version CNC OPENcontrol, drives connected via EtherCAT or proprietary fieldbuses, mutli-tool drilling/milling heads management and many more.
OSAI has organized OPENCut into modular units according to user requirements from 2D to bevel application.
- The Standard unit level includes all functions to control 2D machines.
- The Advanced level adds automatic different profile nesting and 3D simulator.
- The Automatic level includes automatic cutting parameter choice, lead in/out, cutting path checking and automatic collision correction and cycle time calculation.
- The 3D Automatic level includes everything above plus bevel heads management and technological parameters for bevel cutting.
“OPENCut is simple, ergonomic and touch-screen oriented,” reports Ivica Simunic, the national sales manager for OSAI USA. “It’s a user-friendly solution with graphic interface including nesting and graphic work lists. Minimal training ensures fast startup and maximum productivity.” OSAI has over 50 years of experience in providing leading original equipment manufacturers and machine builders with state-of-the art CNC control solutions.
ONLINE 3D CAD MODELS OF WORKHOLDING
Advanced Machine & Engineering Co., (AME; Rockford, IL) announces that they now offer 3D CAD models available online of its workholding fixtures, machine components and safety products on its website at www.ame.com. The site contains models of more than 2,500 individual parts that are available in generic format or in 15 CAD software-specific formats. They can be previewed and then downloaded as .stp, .igs, .dxf and .prt files. Among the downloadable models are Spieth machine components, Ambush® and Amdisk® machine components, Amflex® workholding components, Amforce® hydraulic clamping cartridges, Amrok® tombstones, Amlok® rod locks and Sitema machine safety products.
AME added this online service in response to customer demands and because an increasing number of engineers use the Internet to locate components for their designs. They use a model generation engine powered by Catalog Data Solutions (CDS; San Jose, CA) to turn their technical information into engineering designs. “We frequently get requests from customers for CAD models,” says Greg Champion, the director of global marketing for Goellner, Inc. (Rockford, IL), AME’s parent company. “We are excited about bringing this level of service to our customers on our website. Adding 2D and 3D CAD drawings helps us serve them more effectively by providing what they need to more easily integrate our parts into their machines.”
ENHANCED CAD/CAM SOFTWARE FOR PLASMA, LASER, AND WATERJET CUTTING
Hypertherm, Inc. (Hanover, NH), a U.S.-based manufacturer of plasma, laser, and waterjet cutting systems, has introduced Version 11.1 of its ProNest® 2015 CAD/CAM software that includes both new and enhanced features. One significant Version 11.1 feature is a new quoting tool that can calculate per part and total costs for any job. This tool is ideal for job shops, metal service centers, and other fabricators who need to quote work to external customers. In addition to using baseline material and production costs, the tool is capable of including secondary operations in the final cost, and the addition of mark-ups or discounts for certain customers and jobs.
ProNest 2015 Version 11.1 also includes enhancements in support of waterjet cutting. The software is now capable of applying four waterjet pierce types (dynamic, circle, wiggle, and stationary) automatically through the use of embedded process parameters. The software applies the right pierce type based on lead length, material type and thickness, as well as the available space around the pierce site, and pierce duration, all without the need for programmer input. Another enhancement, used primarily for waterjet cutting, is the addition of “Quality colors,” a feature that allows programmers to color-code parts based on quality values, while in 2D CAD or while using ProNest’s “Advanced Edit” feature. Quality colors are also shown on the nest.
Additional notable highlights of this release include interior cut-up for laser cutting, enhanced SOLIDWORKS® assembly import, improved cut process Class selection, and material mapping by grade and type. A full list of new features and enhancements is available at www.hyperthermCAM.com. This new ProNest 2015 Version 11.1 release is available to current subscribers at no-charge. Subscribers simply need to log-in to the online Knowledge Base, and select the “download” option. ProNest has been an industry leading nesting software for three decades, offering best-in-class performance and reliability with a straight-forward, easy-to-use design. It is also a component of Hypertherm’s Built for Business™ Integrated Cutting Solutions, providing support for True Hole®, True Bevel™ and Rapid Part™ technologies.
Hypertherm, Inc., 21 Great Hollow Road, PO Box 5010, Hanover, NH 03755, 603-643-3441, Fax: 603-643-5352, www.hypertherm.com.
COST ESTIMATING SOFTWARE WITH 3D CAD FEATURE RECOGNITION
MTI Systems, Inc. (West Springfield, MA), a leading developer of cost estimating software solutions for manufacturers, has released Costimator® With 3DFX, an automated feature recognition (AFR) function that recognizes CAD features and their parameters from solid models. 3DFX provides estimators complete control over features they “extract” and import into Costimator for estimating. The software increases cost estimating speed and quoting throughput up to 90 percent, while dramatically improving cost estimating accuracy and consistency, from part to part, estimator to estimator. To view a demonstration video of the new Costimator With 3DFX, please click here.
“Adding automatic feature recognition technology that instantly identifies part dimensions and features is a critical time saver for estimators,” said David LaJoie, the vice president of sales and marketing for MTI Systems. “A quote that would typically take an estimator hours to develop can now be done accurately in just minutes with 3DFX.” Coined from combining the “3D” (CAD) and “FX” from feature extraction, the Costimator 3DFX 3D CAD viewer supports over thirty file formats from developers such as AutoCAD, STEP, IGES, NX and SOLIDWORKS. Estimators can instantly collect accurate measurements, cut dynamic sections, play animation and more. AFR functionality automatically recognizes 3D CAD features such as holes, slots, pockets, bends, forms, etc. and their parameters from solid models.
3DFX is a fully integrated add-on for Costimator. CAD features and the parameters that are selected and sent to Costimator are automatically estimated via industry-validated cost models. It also offers a unique easy-to-use model editor for user-customizable templates, enabling estimators the ability to develop their own defined parameters. Any unrecognizable features and their associated dimensions can be quickly identified and entered during the process. “Costimator with 3DFX is user friendly, even for inexperienced estimators,” commented LaJoie.
MTI Systems, Inc., 59 Interstate Drive, West Springfield, MA 01089, 413-733-1972, www.mtisystems.com.
Amid Challenges, Majority of Metalformers Predict Little Change in Economic Activity
U.S and Canadian incoming orders expected to remain steady, according to the latest barometer reading from the Precision Metalforming Association.
U.S. Manufacturing Grows in September –– PMI Dips 0.6% to 55.4
The Institute for Supply Management reports that among the six biggest industries, food, beverage & tobacco remains the best-performing sector, with fabricated metal and chemical products growing strongly.