Delcam’s PowerMILL gives more efficient electrode manufacture
Zegla-plast Kunststoffspritzerei GmbH & Co. KG from Schwarzenbach in Germany uses the most modern technology to manufacture complex plastic parts in countless variants for the automotive and processing industries. It also produces the injection moulds that are required in its own mouldmaking plant. A significant contribution to the precision of the tools and, therefore, of the plastic products is made by Delcam’s PowerMILL CAM software. Its open interfaces has enabled a novel CAM programming solution for electrode machining – the ‘macrogenerator’.
"At Zegla-plast, we often design very complex tools for which 300 to 400 electrodes may be required,” explained Hans Hacker, EDP operator and the intellectual father of the macrogenerator. "To write the NC program for machining an electrode in PowerMILL, I would normally have to select the strategy for every single cutter, enter the speeds and feed rates, select the cutting tools, start the calculation and then repeat the entire process. This takes a lot of time, it’s fiddly and a lot of work. So it was essential to find a way of automating the CAM programming of the electrodes.”
The result was a much easier and quicker system. "First, you allocate article numbers to the electrodes in the data-entry dialogue of an Access database, and then you can enter various predefined parameters – like offset, precision, material etc,” he explained. "Then I launch the macrogenerator, with PowerMILL running in parallel to it. In the background of the program, there is a small tools database which holds all the necessary milling information. The macrogenerator reads in every electrode from the database, and automatically checks the smallest radius of the workpiece geometry to be processed. Following this, the macrogenerator directly selects the most efficient machining strategy. If everything is okay, the electrode goes off to be milled and the macrogenerator checks or modifies the parameters for the next electrode.”
"What makes PowerMILL special, and the reason why the macrogenerator can function at all, lies in the open structure of our CAM system,” explained Delcam GmbH Sales Director Ferdinand Hoischen. "PowerMILL offers the advanced user the possibility to create his own interface, through which he can have an influence on the calculation process, carry out editing and then see the effects of the changes.”