Case Study When time is money: Fast contract manufacturing
The contract manufacturer MCC Tooling has decided to program its CNC grinding machines and its wire EDM machine with CAD/CAM software in the future. The selected software is on the one hand easy to use; on the other hand, it shortens the offer, programming and processing times.
MCC Tooling manufactures and sharpens customer-specific cutting tools, step drills, forming tools and dovetail cutters for the oil industry, aviation and medical technology. The company was founded in 1984 by Marcus Alexander in a suburb of Dallas, Texas. In the meantime, the company has developed into a 10-man operation in which many different machines are used.
Since MCC Tooling purchased its first wire EDM machine, a Mitsubishi FX 10, in 1999, the Esprit CAM software has been used. “Before deciding on CAM software, we had been dealing with various programs and software packages for a long time and thus came to the conviction that Esprit on the one hand optimally meets our requirements and on the other hand exactly matches our price expectations,” says Alexander. “Esprit is user-friendly, works seamlessly with our machines and can be easily integrated into Solidworks. The operation of Esprit is so simple that even my grandchildren have programmed various things with it, which we have subsequently produced for them.”
In 2013, Alexander purchased the Mitsubishi MV1200-R wire EDM machine with integrated B-axis because he needed a machine with which particularly tight tolerances could be maintained. Thanks to Esprit, the introduction of the new machine went off without a hitch. "A big advantage of the Esprit simulation was that you can see exactly how the heads will move even before the actual machining on the wire EDM machine occurs. This ensures that we do not waste time on incorrect programming and do not waste money on rejects."
The integrated B-axis, an MMK Matsumoto, made indexing from cutting edge to cutting edge very precise. This means that MCC Tooling can now also manufacture multi-blade form cutters. Before the machine with the integrated B-axis was used, such parts could only be produced in many individual processing steps on different machines and the set-up of the eroding machine took a lot of time. Now, the B-axis can be set up in just two minutes and only four additional machining steps are required. “We can clamp the tool in the B-axis and deal with other things with peace of mind,” Alexander explains. “We can also use Esprit to check all clearance and rake angles on the tools. This way, we can guarantee that the manufactured tools will later meet the requirements and have exactly the required dimensions.”
Fast offer preparation is vital for getting the order
Since several companies are always interested in the contracts to be awarded, it is important for MCC Tooling to submit an offer as quickly as possible. “We need to know exactly how much time the various processing steps take so that we can prepare a corresponding offer and do not have to add to the order at the end,” says Alexander. “If we program with Esprit, we can generate a G-code and predict exactly how long each individual machining step will take.” This way, the customer quickly receives a corresponding offer. If MCC Tooling is awarded the contract, the order can be produced on the EDM machine on the same day.
It often happens that customers do not even have a drawing of the part that is to be produced. In other cases, the tool they bring with them as a pattern or for sharpening is so worn out that precise measurement can no longer be guaranteed. But as long as the customer has an exact idea of what the tool has to do, Alexander and his employees can easily design an appropriate tool with Esprit and determine the missing dimensions. Esprit also makes it easy to check the measurements taken by the customer.
MCC Tooling was recently commissioned to manufacture a double-sided indexable insert. With Esprit, Alexander was able to design the part exactly according to customer specifications and, based on this design, generate a machining program for the wire EDM machine. He then used the CAD/CAM software to design a device for clamping the carbide blank on the CNC grinding machine. This device had to be manufactured in such a way that each blank could be positioned exactly the same for processing. Finally, Alexander designed a second device with which the indexable insert could be fixed on the EDM machine during machining. Originally, it was to be assumed that processing had to take place in four partial steps. However, the use of a 4-axis program meant that only two machining steps were required. The advantage is that all indexable inserts can always be machined in the same way. Alexander only has to use a carbide blank and start the program. Until then, the customer had long been looking for a company that could produce an indexable insert that met their requirements. Machining at MCC Tooling, on the other hand, was so convincing that around 50 tools are now ordered here every month.
Saving time during programming and production
The company founder can now spend most of his working time preparing new quotations and acquiring new orders. The use of Esprit saves a lot of time during programming and production, which is now available for other tasks. "In our industry, short delivery times must always be adhered to. This makes it all the more important that orders can be processed quickly. For us, time is money," he explains. At MCC Tooling, the use of Esprit has led to a reduction in quotation, programming and machining times and thus to an improvement in cost-effectiveness.