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  • Delcam's CADCAM software gives packaging company an extra dimension

Delcam's CADCAM software gives packaging company an extra dimension

The demonstration pheasant cup
Dave Meaker using Delcam's PowerSHAPE at TMB Patterns Machining with the new Hermle machine

Delcam's Power Solution CADCAM software has added an extra dimension to the toolmaking services offered to the packaging industry by Somerset-based TMB Patterns Ltd. A combination of the Total Modelling design solution and five-axis programming with PowerMILL enables the company to add logos, pictures or other decorations to its models and so convert conventional packaging trays into unique items.
Software user Dave Meaker described the process, using a cup incorporating a pheasant design that he produced to demonstrate the concept. "I sourced the artwork from the Internet and converted it into a 3D relief in ArtCAM,” he said. "This was then wrapped onto a cup design created in PowerSHAPE and the combined model passed to PowerMILL for five-axis machining on our new Hermle machine.”

"A similar result would have been possible before by using electrodes to create the decoration,” admitted Mr. Meaker. "However, this approach would be more complex and prohibitively expensive for most packaging applications.”

"The Delcam software has provided a new direction for the company and given us something extra that we can offer our customers,” he added. "We can use literally any kind of artwork. The only limitation is that we must restrict the depth of the relief to ½ mm to ensure that the finished part can be removed from the tooling easily.”

Martin Baker, Managing Director at TMB, explained that the addition of the Delcam software was part of his company’s drive to become leaders in the industry at every stage from creating designs from customers’ ideas through to pre-production trials. "With our new design techniques, we can now provide something that stands out on the supermarket shelf and encourages the customer to buy it,” he said. "At the same time, five-axis machining opens up new possibilities by making it easier to machine deeper cavities and finer details to the highest quality.”

 "The simulations from the software are also an essential part of our efforts to remain competitive” he added. "By showing the customer a realistic image of our design proposal, we can ensure that the samples we produce will be much closer to what he wants.”

"We can even create video clips, for example, showing the opening and closing action of a hinged container, which the customer can view in a secure area within our web site. Physical samples are still an essential part of the approval process but we can cut lead times significantly if we can use the computer images to ensure that the samples are right first time.”

Machining simulations on the computer are equally important to TMB. "We can simulate what will happen on the machine tool inside the software and so avoid any mistakes on the shop floor,” explained Mr. Baker. "This is especially important with the new five-axis machine.”

All these benefits have significantly reduced lead times. "We can produce a CAD visualisation within 24 hours and provide samples in three to four days depending on the complexity of the project,” claimed Mr. Baker. "Average delivery times for a thermoforming tool used to be six to eight weeks, whereas it is now between two and four weeks from seeing the concept design to delivering the finished tooling.”