Delcam’s PowerSHAPE CAD software helps Allied Glass to grow
Standardisation on Delcam’s PowerSHAPE hybrid modelling CAD software has enabled Allied Glass to continue to grow its business as a supplier of bottles to the premium spirits market and to other companies wanting to use distinctive glass packaging to promote their products. The company has enjoyed particular success in the Russian market, using the skills it developed over many years of producing whisky bottles to generate a series of designs for the country’s leading vodka brands.
Allied Glass was formed in 2000 following the formal merger of two leading independent Yorkshire glass manufacturers, Gregg & Co. and Lax & Shaw. The two companies pooled their resources, including their design software. "We soon realised that PowerSHAPE was easier to use and more powerful than the other design systems we were using,” remembered Product Design Engineer, Bob Noble. "We stopped using our other packages and standardised on PowerSHAPE. It is now used for all our design work.”
"Bottles may look simple but, as soon as you move away from standard round containers, they become more complicated than they appear, ” said Mr. Noble. "For example, even a fairly straightforward square shape will have some complex curves on its shoulder. PowerSHAPE combines the precision that is essential to ensure accurate volume calculations, with the free-form design capabilities that are required to create a truly distinctive bottle. Other design software simply can’t deliver what we need.”
"We design some products from scratch, especially for the smaller customers,” explained Mr Noble. "Our larger customers, such as the major whisky distillers, will employ designers to generate an aesthetic concept that we have to turn into a practical design. Many of these people do know about the practical constraints we have to overcome, but we often need to tailor the design to meet manufacturing and economic demands. The main problem is that complex designs, for example, those with integrated handles, may need to be run more slowly on the moulding machines. This lower productivity can make them prohibitively expensive.”
Allied Glass uses mouldmakers all over the world to produce its tooling, many of whom use Delcam software. "We do have some problems with mouldmakers using other systems,” admitted Mr. Noble. "Often, they try to recreate our design from 2D drawings and cannot get the exact shapes we need.”
One recent project developed on PowerSHAPE was a new lightweight design. The lower weight gives financial savings from reduced materials usage and also from cheaper transport costs. "The bottle design was fairly simple,” commented Mr. Noble, "but we had to go through several iterations to optimise the tooling design and ensure we produced the even wall thickness needed to give the required strength.”
"With PowerSHAPE, we can spend more time designing and less time fighting with the software to get the shapes that we want. I recently completed a very complex design in five hours that would have taken a week in our previous software” said Mr. Noble. "I certainly couldn’t imagine going back to using 2D drawing methods and having to calculate complex volumes from drawings,” he concluded.