Delcam’s FeatureCAM is the key to staying in business


This mould is typical of the work undertaken at Innovation Alloy with FeatureCAM

"Delcam’s FeatureCAM CAM software is one of the reasons I am still in business,” said Jerry Piesch, owner of Innovation Alloy, a family-owned CNC machine shop south of Bakersfield, California.  "It allows me to spend more time in the shop making parts than in the office scratching my head figuring out how to make a part.”

Equipped with Fadal mills and a Haas SL20 turning machine, Innovation Alloy takes all kinds of precision machining jobs from aftermarket motorcycle parts and catalytic converter dies, to castings and guitar parts.  When Mr. Piesch started his business in 1996, he bought a Bridgeport 3-axis mill, which came with an early version of FeatureCAM 2D.  He soon upgraded to the 3D version and hasn’t looked back since.  "I’m so used to using FeatureCAM now that I never have any doubt that the part is going to turn out well,” he claimed.

Mr. Piesch reported that the software saves him hours of programming time for each part file that comes in the door.  "It makes the creation and editing of toolpaths for any CNC machine quicker, easier and more flexible, which is a big help to us,” he said.  Plus, the machining results often exceed customer requirements because of the reliability of the software.

"One of my customers uses us to make their catalytic converters in various sizes,” Mr. Piesch said.  "When they send over their solid model part file, I import it and choose only those sections of the part file I need to adapt for that order; I already have the basic part design file in FeatureCAM.  This avoids the need to create a completely new part program for each different order, cutting programming time to a fraction of the time that would otherwise be needed.”

Solid modelling in FeatureCAM is also very helpful to Mr. Piesch.  He likes to be able to create and review the fixture design along with the part.  In this way, he can see what the part should look like and how it is going to machine before the cycle starts, and so avoid any potential errors on the machine.

"I have used FeatureCAM for so long and it makes programming so easy, that I believe I’ve lost the ability to go in and use the machine software to create part programs,” Mr. Piesch admitted.  "Even for a small detail like a hole, I’ll program in FeatureCAM, not the machine software, because it generates very quickly a program I can rely on absolutely.”