CG Tech

Software helps components maker fill experience gap

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Now all the milling and drilling machines have been modelled, i.e., built to reflect exactly how each machine is used. A Diamach 3-axis milling machine was modelled first, followed by a more complex Huron 5-axis machine that was very important to key customers.

Customers supply 3D models that are taken into Pro/Engineer or Siemens NX CAD systems before the NC tool paths are applied using Edgecam CAM software. The Edgecam interface allows the NC program to open directly in Vericut for verification and optimisation. A skilled programmer checks all the set-ups before they go to the floor. Using Vericut prior to releasing the NC code to the shop is said to have helped Tirad keep things simple for the less-skilled.

Parts for machining generally follow the same procedure: The NC program is prepared, set up and run through Vericut. Mistakes are reported back to the programmer, who makes modifications and corrections. The toolpath is then re-checked with the software, and once cleared it is released to the company’s network.

Tirad operates a paperless environment with NC programs transferred to the floor via its intranet. Every machine tool has a PC with software for viewing CAD files and Vericut’s Reviewer, a collaboration tool that allows 3D simulations to be shared with anyone without the need for a software license.

The Reviewer can play forward and backward while removing and replacing material. Error messages and NC program text is highlighted when a collision on the stock or fixture is selected. A tool path line display is optional. The operator can rotate, pan and zoom just like the normal software, and the cut stock can be measured using all the standard X-caliper tools.

Cutting conditions are shown in the status display and available when stepping through the program using NC Program Review. The feature shows detailed information about the cutter’s engagement with material, including axial depth, radial width, volume removal rate, chip thickness, maximum surface speed and contact area.

The shift leader can resolve mistakes with the software. If the file is modified, it is reported and uploaded back to the CAM programmer for updating and storage for future use, as parts can be re-ordered by customers. A comprehensive shop floor data collection (SFDC) system is installed at Tirad and every machine has PLC-based monitoring equipment that reports on the machine’s status, such as running, waiting, stopped, spindle over-ride and so on. It allows the company to collect data; analyse the performances of the machine, the tool and the material; and improve from a known datum.