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Company News Hypermill breathes life into Covid-19 project

| Editor: Steffen Donath

Open Mind’s software is utilised to realise a project in support of the fight against the current pandemic.

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Covid-19 ventilator parts ready for machining
Covid-19 ventilator parts ready for machining
(Source: Open Mind)

Maztech Precision Engineering (MPE) was founded just six years ago by Wayne Bouchier to specialise in multi-axis CNC machining. Customers of the Letchworth business now include leading aerospace, automotive and Formula 1 companies. With F1 teams so heavily involved in the Coronavirus (Covid-19) ventilator project, reputable technology partners like Maztech have been making parts for ventilators.

“My strategy has been to invest in the best of everything and this includes Mazak machining centres, ITC cutting tools and of course the Hypermill CAM system from Open Mind Technologies,” says Wayne Bouchier.

It is this strategy that has seen Maztech involved in the government response, winning an order to produce 7,500 aluminium tube manifold components. The company has recently been running its four Mazak machining centres 24/7.

The Covid-19 Response

Discussing the race to produce ventilator parts and how Hypermill has helped, Wayne says: “The tube manifold is a relatively simple 3-axis part, but with such quantities we needed to design new fixturing to conduct multiple set-up machining. Using the Linear Pattern feature in Hypermill, we have been able to effectively ‘copy and paste’ the machining cycle from one position to the next on our machining centres. On one of our machines, we now have 16 WNT ZSG4 vices with suitable fixturing set-up for non-stop machining. The Hypermill programme for each part is simply ‘copied and pasted’, not just across each fixture, but also across all of our machines.”

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From a programming perspective, the office functions have been streamlined significantly, As Wayne recalls: “Our programming times are at least 35-40 % faster with Hypermill. One example of this is the Mirror function within Hypermill. More than 30 % of our work has a left and right-hand variant, for these parts Hypermill and its Mirror function is slashing programming times from hours to minutes.”

Safety first

For Maztech to produce complex components with confidence, its engineers have modelled all workholding accessories, such as all vises, vise jaws and chucks, and created a template for each. “With Hypermill, if you put good data in you get good data out. If you set up your tools exactly as they are set up in Hypermill, run a collision check and the software says that there is no collision — you’re 99 % guaranteed there won’t be a collision.”

“So, when you first programme a job, you open the template and select the vise and the jaws and pull that into your job. So straight away, you are collision checking against your vise and jaws as your machine is modelled up. Especially on the 5-axis machine with its tilting spindle, you know that the spindle isn’t going to catch a table, as its collision checks everything,” says Bouchier.

In answer to the question as to whether he thinks the CAD/CAM Hypermill package is as important as the CNC machines, Bouchier claims it’s more so: “I think without a decent CAD/CAM package you could have the best machine in the world but if you’ve got nothing to drive it, it’s an absolute waste of time.”

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