Delcam’s PowerMILL CAM chosen by die manufacturer EXCO

Machining times at EXCO have been reduced by PowerMILL’s more efficient ordering

NC programmers at die manufacturer EXCO are now phasing out several different brands of CAM software in favour of the flexibility and capability of Delcam’s PowerMILL CAM system.  This decision followed a six-month evaluation of products from six leading CAM developers to determine how they could help EXCO achieve its goals in boosting productivity and quality.

EXCO Engineering, based in Newmarket, Ontario, is a world leader in large high-pressure die-casting dies.  The company has been a major tooling supplier to the automotive industry worldwide for more than 50 years, with huge experience in the design of large dies for engine blocks, transmission cases and instrument panels.  To ensure the accuracy and functionality of its dies, EXCO makes extensive use of CNC equipment, including machining centres, large boring mills and CMMs. 

Already at EXCO, in some early tests with PowerMILL, the company has seen up to three times increase in productivity for some parts, reducing programming time for a large insert from a week to a day, in one example.  A significant benefit is the collision avoidance in PowerMILL, which allows programmers to cascade down with a shorter tool assembly, allowing large areas to be cut safely before moving to a longer tool.  Another bonus is that, for all roughing strategies, PowerMILL orders toolpaths so that air moves are greatly reduced.  This better ordering also makes the rest-roughing toolpaths more efficient.

When users want to edit toolpaths, they can do it quickly.  They can pick any part of a toolpath, delete it and still leave the rest of the toolpath intact.  When they wanted to make any change in the program with the other software, they had to re-calculate everything, which could take five or ten minutes, depending on the size of the file.

One big change has been the addition of semi-finishing operations to the machining sequences.  "Previously, we did not semi-finish because it greatly increased our programming time,” explained New Project Engineer, Mr. Gabor.  "Now we can program roughing, semi-finishing and finishing fairly quickly, and run the programs more smoothly.  PowerMILL helps us control material removal rates at each stage.  Tool life has improved and the programs run faster.”

For EXCO, the main advantages from PowerMILL are its flexibility, its range of machining strategies and the many options with which a job can be tackled.  Also, Delcam was the most willing to prove the value of its software by providing training during the evaluation, programming times were very impressive and customer support has been excellent.  Delcam also took EXCO staff to other customers where they saw ideas that they felt could help them, such as programming at the machine, which would allow an operator to program one machine and run another, saving time.