Delcam’s PartMaker makes encoder company more productive
Adding PartMaker CAM software has enabled Encoder Products Company to boost its output significantly, a big benefit to any company that competes on the global engineering stage. "The productivity improvements we’ve seen using PartMaker have been incredible,” remarked Production Manager, Todd Egland. "We’ve decreased our machine set-up time by at least 50% by not having to tie up a machine to prove out our programs.”
Based in Sagle, Idaho, EPC manufacturers premium rotary incremental and absolute encoders used for motion feedback. All the parts are manufactured in-house across a bank of multi-axis CNC machines, including, among others, a number of Mori-Seiki twin-turret, twin-spindle lathes and a Star CNC multi-axis, Swiss-type lathe.
The company was founded 35 years ago by Bill Watt who invented a unique encoder housed in a cube. As its product line has expanded and its design process became more sophisticated, faster programming was needed than manual techniques allowed. To make the leap to more automated methods, EPC standardised on PartMaker in 2005.
The need to move to PartMaker stemmed from a number of factors in the business. As the company acquired more multi-tasking lathes, the complexity of its programming increased. All of these machines are capable of performing extensive milling operations in addition to simultaneous machining operations across their multiple spindles.
"For us, the software has really enhanced our ability to program a part on a PC and run it on the screen, rather than having to waste spindle time running it on the machine, which was what we had to do before,” said Mr. Egland. "Before we had the software, we would program manually off-line, get the program as far as we could and then start making parts on the machine to see how they were going to come out.”
"With PartMaker, set-up times are greatly reduced especially on new parts. What used to take four hours or more can be reduced to less than an hour due to the ability to process the part on a PC without actually using the machine tool,” said Mr. Egland.
The ease with which PartMaker handles turning and milling operations on each part allows EPC to improve their appearance by de-burring them on the machine. This alleviates costly and time-consuming secondary operations and manual de-burring.
"The software has helped us by allowing us to run a chamfering tool quickly around sharp edges, alleviating having to do deburring by hand. By the time we pull the part off the machine, it’s an absolute finished piece that needs no secondary finishing or hand touching,” noted Mr. Egland. "PartMaker makes a good-looking part a great-looking part.”