Delcam’s FeatureCAM supports sophistication at Sutter Instruments
A combination of Delcam’s FeatureCAM feature-based CAM system and the integrated CAM software, Delcam for SolidWorks, helps the Sutter Instrument Company to manufacture some of the world’s most sophisticated research and inspection equipment. University laboratories all over the world use Sutter’s instruments to do research into illnesses including Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, cancer and infertility.
The company had its origins in 1977 when Dale Flaming, a scientist working at the University of California, San Francisco, was having difficulty in producing micropipettes for his studies of retina cells in the eye. He developed the first electronically-controlled micropipette puller to help facilitate his research. Additional demand for the device from colleagues prompted the formation of Sutter Instrument Company.
Today, Sutter has grown to become a world-class manufacturer of biomedical and life science research instrumentation. Customisation of the optical product line for unique applications has extended the company’s customer base beyond the biomedical industry into such diverse industries as aerospace, semiconductors, electronics, atmospheric research, astronomical imaging, fusion research and material analysis.
The company’s engineering and manufacturing facility occupies over 50,000 square feet and employs more than 70 staff; most of them have been with the company for more than a decade. The machine shop, which is staffed with 14 employees, is one of the finest precision-machining facilities in Northern California, employing state-of-the-art CNC machining and turning centres for volume production of precision mechanical components.
Fred Siedenburg, a Vice-President at Sutter, oversees the research and development activities in the machine shop together with Ron Davenport, Research and Development Machinist, who has more than 30 years of experience in precision manufacturing. Both of them have tried nearly every CADCAM software package on the market. For more than a decade, they have been committed to Delcam software. Today, Sutter Instruments owns five seats of Delcam for SolidWorks and three of FeatureCAM.
"When we first got our FeatureCAM software, we picked up the basics almost immediately,” remembered Mr. Davenport. "Over time, we have learned the more intricate features. We do call Delcam from time to time with questions and the technical support team is outstanding.” In fact, he admits that, when they were first evaluating FeatureCAM, it was the technical support they received that convinced them to switch to Delcam.
More recently, Sutter has added Delcam for SolidWorks. "Delcam for SolidWorks is about twice as fast as anything else on the market,” claimed Mr. Davenport. "It became so easy to machine parts when Delcam for Solid Works came out – it was literally inside the SolidWorks program that we use for design. We can get a prototype into the hands of our decision makers very quickly. In manufacturing, we are able to fine-tune the design very quickly and easily, cutting production times.”