Case Study

When deep mould cavities overwhelm the CAM system

| Author / Editor: Leif Knittel / Rosemarie Stahl

Pestel Pur manufactures huge moulds: Claddings for harvesting machines, roof structures for buses and panels for sunbeds are among their usual work.
Pestel Pur manufactures huge moulds: Claddings for harvesting machines, roof structures for buses and panels for sunbeds are among their usual work. (Source: Leif Knittel, Webtemps)

Manufacturing mould tools with a weight of 19 tons does not mean that the milling is less complex than with smaller tools. When German-based Pestel Pur Kunststofftechnik reached the limits of their CAM programming in difficult areas, they had to look for an alternative and turned to Solidcam.

Claddings for harvesting machines, roof structures for buses, panels for sunbeds – only a few companies can manufacture such large-size plastic parts from polyurethane. One such firn is Pestel Pur Kunststofftechnik from Chemnitz, Germany. The company was founded in 1990 by Ulf-Peter Pestel directly after German reunification. It has 50 employees on premises of 10,000 m² and it produces components with a shot weight of up to 100 kg and a surface of up to 4.00 m x 2.00 m.

In their own mould-making processes, the team headed by Michael Legler produces the necessary mould tools from customer-specific ideas or from delivered Solidworks data. With a total weight of up to 19 tons, they are manufactured on three to five-axis portal milling machines. Bearing in mind that milling machines have to work through the night when machining such large mouldings, two things are particularly sought-after: High machining speeds and absolute process safety.

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“On the CAD side we were excellently positioned at Pestel Pur with Solidworks,” explains Michael Legler, who has been active in the company since 2011. Over the years, however, the customer parts and the moulding tools became more geometrically complex. Deep-mould cavities and complex areas visibly overwhelmed the former CAM system. Legler reports: “For a medium-sized mould half, around one hundred CNC programs were necessary and each program had to be manually edited. In part, the post-processors covered only half of the machine functions that were available in the CNC controller.” It got to the stage where Michael Legler felt that the expense of the CAM programming was unacceptable and the safety of the milling was insufficient.

Solidcam also produced a video about Pestel Pur Kunststofftechnik:

So, in early 2012, he resorted to looking for a more suitable CAM system. The requirements were clearly defined: Integration into Solidworks, simple and fast programming of complex 5-axis moulds, calculation and processing of residual material, a functioning collision control and sophisticated CNC post-processors. After extensive research on the Internet about the current status of CAM systems and their scope of functions, a variety of suppliers presented their solutions to Pestel Pur on-site. Two systems made it on to the shortlist. After only two days of the testing phase, Solidcam was the clear favourite.

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