CAD/CAM Aerospace toolmaker removes programming bottleneck

Author / Editor: Peter Dickin / Barbara Schulz

UK - G. Parker Aero Tooling Solutions, a rapidly expanding aerospace toolmaker, has changed to Delcam’s Power-Mill to remove a programming bottleneck that was limiting the company’s productivity. Three seats of the CAM software have doubled the company's programming capacity.

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Parker Aero Tooling Solutions has reduced air cutting and shortened machining times with rest machining.
Parker Aero Tooling Solutions has reduced air cutting and shortened machining times with rest machining.
(Source: Delcam)

G. Parker Aero Tooling Solutions, which has been based in Accrington in the North-West of England for over forty years and is now in its second generation of family ownership, produces a wide range of tooling, including jigs and fixtures, exclusively for the aerospace industry. It has been closely involved in designing and manufacturing tooling for many of the world’s most prestigious aircraft programmes, including all Airbus platforms, plus the Eclipse and Honda VLJ programmes. Virtually all of the tooling is made as a ‘one-off’ so developing the most efficient machining approach for each project involves a steep learning curve.

Most of the staff are time-served toolmakers with a wealth of aerospace knowledge, and their skills and expertise are needed on almost every job. In addition, Managing Director, Mike Parker, puts a strong emphasis on encouraging direct interaction between his staff and his customers. “We have built up a detailed knowledge of our customers’ equipment so we can make tooling that will be easy for them to install and efficient for them to use."

“We have always designed our tooling with the same CAD/CAM system that is used by most of our customers, and have been happy with that aspect of the software,” he explains. “However, we have ten machines, including several 5-axis machining centres, all demanding programs. We were experiencing a serious bottleneck with our two seats of the machining software as we couldn’t supply toolpaths quickly enough.”

Parker investigated a number of alternative CAM programs before deciding on Power-Mill. The company was already using Delcam’s Power-Inspect software and had been impressed with both the software and the support provided.

Even though the staff have only been using Power-Mill for a few months, the effects have been dramatic, the company claims. “We have effectively doubled our programming capacity with the three seats of Power-Mill because the software is so much easier to use,” Parker says.

Craig Cooke, production manager, had used an alternative CAM system for all his working life but hasn’t found anything that Power-Mill can’t do. “All four people that we have trained in Power-Mill have been very motivated. Of course, introducing new software has seen some difficulties but nothing insurmountable."