Delcam’s PartMaker gives QA Technology faster turn around
Delcam’s PartMaker SwissCAM software allows QA Technology, a world-leading manufacturer of test probes for printed circuit boards, to efficiently turn around small lot sizes on its Tornos Deco Swiss-type turning centre. According to Dave Coe, Vice President at the New England-based company, his customers have a simple view of the benefit this helps his company to provide.
"The shorter the better as far as our customers are concerned,” says Mr. Coe.
When he says short, he’s referring to short lead times and small prototype lot sizes of the array of components and connectors his company engineers and manufactures. Historically, QA Technology’s component manufacturing had been outsourced to a number of vendors with a variety of CNC machines. Because of the demand for quick turnaround and small lot sizes, QA Technology decided to add CNC Swiss capacity within the company, in order to fill customer requirements that outside vendors simply could not meet, either economically or reliably.
As a result, QA decided to purchase a Tornos Deco 7a, a machine used by some of the company’s current vendors, and PartMaker SwissCAM. The software provides the link between QA’s engineering department, which designs its product using both 2D drafting and 3D solid modelling, and the manufacturing department that is tasked with producing the parts.
"The really big benefit to having PartMaker is the ability to take the solid model, or even the DXF file, coming out of our engineering department for the part and immediately import it and be able to view it, edit it as necessary, and generate accurate toolpaths that are not subject to human error, as they often are when you are using manual programming methods,” said Mr. Coe.
Thanks to a close collaboration between Tornos and the PartMaker developers, a special data-file format generated by PartMaker can be directly imported into Tornos’ TB-Deco software. This ensures accurate transfer of the SwissCAM toolpaths. "If it looks good in the simulation in PartMaker, it should look good when it comes off the machine,” according to Phil Pierce, CNC programmer at QA.
This reliability also gives extra flexibility. For shorter-running jobs, the user might not even make any adjustments to data imported from PartMaker. For longer-running jobs, where every fraction of a second counts, the programmer can use the unique optimisation capabilities of the TB-Deco software to achieve the fastest possible cycle time.
"For me, it’s all about speed,” commented Mr. Pierce. "It’s easy for me to take a job, generate a program with PartMaker SwissCAM, send it right over to the machine, optimise the program in TB-Deco and get parts running within a day. If I had to write the whole program through TB-Deco, it would take a lot more time. With the system we have in place, it’s a very quick turnaround to have high-quality parts coming off the machine.”