Delcam CADCAM software chosen to drive monster 5-axis machining centre
Delcam’s PowerSHAPE design software and PowerMILL CAM system have been chosen by MonsterCAM to drive one of the UK’s largest independently-owned, continuous five-axis machining centres. The company’s EWW machine is 45 metres long, 7 metres wide and 4 metres high and has a volumetric cutting space of 1,260 cubic metres.
MonsterCAM was conceived by the Directors of two well established companies, modelmaking and patternmaking specialists, Curvature Group, and plug and production moulding company, Marine Concepts. The three Directors, with over 75 years’ combined experience in machining, mouldmaking and composite moulding work, saw the need to have an integrated business that could make the investment required for such a large machine, as well as combining the skills and experience each company was able to offer.
The basis of the technical partnership was equally important in being able to maintain and control the costs so MonsterCAM could offer its highly skilled CNC plug/patternmaking service within the expected cost parameters that the marine sector had already been paying for work that had previously been contracted out for hand manufacture. This was seen as pivotal to the business’s success, especially due to the current and certainly foreseeable global economy and how it has been affecting MonsterCAM’s target clientele. MonsterCAM wanted to be able to bring this resource to the sector, and offer a better and more accurate service that their clients could effectively "turn on and off like a tap” when required, rather than setting up their own facility, which, more often than not, would not be cost effective.
The need for such a large piece of equipment was driven mainly by requests for larger and larger patterns from the two companies’ marine customers. However, demand for the new capacity has also come from the wind energy and architectural sectors, and even from two customers that wanted full-scale replicas manufactured of two very different space shuttles!
Nick Phelps, one of the founder directors of MonsterCAM and owner of Curvature Group, stated that he had been using Delcam software for that company’s own large five-axis machining centres for some years. However, this new investment was dealt with through fresh eyes, and he and his fellow directors in MonsterCAM assessed many different software systems before deciding which one they would ultimately use. Mr Phelps commented, "The decision was taken to stay with Delcam, and we have now, following many, many, machining hours, been very pleased that we decided to specify the Delcam software.”
On asking Mr. Phelps more about what his decision was based upon, he further stated, "Curvature Group is using a variety of CAM systems so the decision to use Delcam within MonsterCAM was also supported because EEW had the software in Germany. Also, it was felt that Delcam offered the best support. Most enquiries were handled immediately, and, whenever the support team needed to ring us back, they really did ring us back. That certainly hasn’t been true of some of the other CADCAM suppliers that we use.”
This support has been vital for the new company as the size of the EEW machine meant that MonsterCAM would be machining on a scale rarely attempted in the UK before. Also the operator, Carl Perry, who had been seconded to MonsterCAM from Curvature Group and trained to operate the machine, had worked previously using three-axis machines only.
An advanced training course in PowerMILL soon put Mr Perry on the right track. "PowerMILL was very easy to pick up compared to some of the packages I have used; it is much more intuitive,” he commented. "I needed a bit of experimentation to get the results I wanted immediately after completing the course but now I can do everything I need, from three-axis work to continuous five-axis milling, both quickly and easily. With PowerMILL, I can consistently machine to within 0.2 mm over the whole envelope of the machine.”
PowerSHAPE has also proved invaluable for most projects. "Nine times out of ten our clients will send a product design with either no run-off surfaces or no draft angle applied,” said Mr Perry. "I need to manipulate this data with PowerSHAPE to complete the tooling design before I can start on the programming.”
MonsterCAM has grown its clientele significantly in the 18 months since the company first commenced machining. Two further machine operators have now also been trained at Delcam and, of course, have furthered this training in the workplace. Now MonsterCAM is fully capable of handling any projects and the pressures that these bring with them, while continuing to count on the valuable support provided by Delcam.