Delcam mouldmaking software achieves one-year payback
An investment in Delcam software by Dynamic Tool & Design paid for itself in less than a year by boosting the company’s ability to produce complex moulds quickly and accurately. Dynamic, based in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, is a full-service, mould builder providing assistance in product design, in-house mould design, Moldflow analysis, certification of steel and heat treating, and verification of critical mould dimensions. The company specialises in moulds for snap-shut closures; the caps on bottled consumer products from shampoo to ketchup and mustard.
Each year, the company creates about eighty-five new moulds, and provides duplicates of many more, plus rebuilds. Looking for ways to improve the productivity of programming staff and reduce machining cycle times, and potentially eliminate secondary operations, Dynamic invested in Delcam’ PowerSHAPE CAD software and PowerMILL CAM system. Despite seven years experience with a previous software system, it was just not allowing the company to accomplish its goals of faster delivery and higher accuracy.
According to Randy Lee Meissner, CNC Department Supervisor, the previous software was hard to use and not sufficiently flexible. "We were cutting a lot of air, the surface finish was not good enough and it was a fight to get it to run five-axis programs. We decided it was time to check into something better, with a shorter learning curve.”
"Rest machining with the Delcam software is a huge time-saver,” Mr. Meissner said. "This alone has easily saved us upward of 25% to 50% on our cavity machining cycle times, cutting down roughing times particularly, so we can move quickly to the finished mould. With PowerMILL, the tool is always in the cut, removing the unwanted material, with no air cutting. You’re always on the steel.”
The Delcam software helps Dynamic to maintain a high level of consistency in its programming. This directly and positively affects time in process and customer satisfaction. "We develop processes where each engineer is using the same techniques and the same tools, so there is no variation among the work the guys are doing,” Mr. Meissner explained. "That way the customer also can count on consistency in the moulds we do from order to order. In the old days, there may have been some hand-fitting. Not any more.”
"When the programmers want to edit paths, they can do it quickly. They can pick any part of a toolpath, delete it and still have the rest of the toolpath intact. The new toolpath only needs to be calculated for the relevant area, not for the whole part. That’s a big time-saver for us,” Mr. Meissner said. "With the other software, when we wanted to make any change in the program it had to re-calculate everything, which could take five to ten minutes each time, depending on the size of the file.”
Upstream from PowerMILL in the programming department is PowerSHAPE. With PowerSHAPE, Dynamic programmers analyse imported models for damaged, duplicated or missing surfaces, inspect draft angles, and visualise hard-to-mould regions. They can also repair, replace or modify surface or solid models, and add textures, logos and complex embossed reliefs.
The company also uses Delcam Electrode, which is fully integrated with PowerSHAPE and PowerMILL. This provides automatic generation of solid electrode models for EDM. Within a few minutes, a complex cavity in a model can be automatically extracted to form a collision-checked, 3-D solid model of the electrode, together with its holder, set-up sheets and the toolpaths for its manufacture.