Delcam software helps Northbend Pattern to speed mould manufacture
Delcam’s CADCAM software has helped the Northbend Pattern Works, from West Harrison, Indiana, to streamline its mould manufacturing process and accelerate the turnaround of every mould. The company uses the PowerSHAPE CAD software to convert customers’ part designs into tooling designs and the PowerINSPECT inspection system to check both the moulds and the initial sample parts.
Over 90% of the moulds made by Northbend Pattern are for high-quality, high-volume automotive parts, such as brake callipers. The shop produces from 100 to 150 new moulds and patterns each year and can be working on between 20 and 50 projects at any one time. Northbend’s customers must now deliver tolerances in their castings once expected of machined parts. As a result, they have tightened the requirements on their mould suppliers. This increased level of precision is expected on top of the ability to deliver on time and to accommodate design changes almost overnight.
"We like PowerSHAPE because it is geared toward the kind of work we do here,” said Neil Rullman, Production Coordinator at Northbend. "The Delcam software allows us not only to produce moulds directly from CAD data, but also to make changes to the designs very quickly and produce a new model to return to the customer. Rapid, accurate turnaround is essential in our business.”
With PowerSHAPE, Northbend’s designers typically import a CAD model from the customer, analyse the model for damaged, duplicated or missing surfaces, and identify difficult areas like thin walls and ribs, and undercut areas. They can then correct any problems in the file and extract mould features from the imported geometry. When the model comes back from the customer, they can easily identify any changes, replace or modify surfaces as required and generate a new model.
To inspect moulds and sample parts, Mr. Rullman checks key points and features with a FARO inspection arm and compares the results to the CAD data with PowerINSPECT. The system verifies all of the part’s 3D measurements against the original PowerSHAPE file to see if it was made correctly and, if not, where it needs to be corrected. Mr. Rullman can generate inspection reports in a format built specifically for each of his customers.
"The main reason we can turn jobs around so quickly is that the Delcam software is designed to work together,” added Mr. Rullman. "That is probably the main advantage. It is not uncommon to get repair jobs on Friday night that have to be returned on Monday morning. Our customers can take as long as they want to return any part to us but, once we get it, we have to send back the corrected mould as fast as possible.”
"When we see a technology that can help us to do our job, better, faster or more economically, we will look into it,” concluded Mr. Rullman. "The Delcam software has proved its value to us.”