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Delcam’s five-axis machining speeds production at aerospace manufacturer

PowerMILL gives a lot more visual feedback
Five-Axis machining speeds the production of aerospace components at Hyde Precision

The addition of five-axis machining centres from DMG and Delcam software has cut lead times for a range of aerospace components at Hyde Precision. Paul Mellor, Technical Manager at the company, which operates in Manchester, UK, believes that much of the firm’s current work would be impossible in the delivery times needed without these new facilities.

Hyde Precision is one of five specialist machining companies within Hyde Industrial Holdings, a major aerospace group with an annual turnover over £100 million and more than 1,350 employees. Half of the company’s work is in the manufacture of components for aircraft production. The other half is in the more time-critical machining of replacement components for aircraft on the ground. For these parts, the normal delivery time is a maximum of two weeks – a major challenge when the part will have to be modelled and programmed, and the material sourced, cut and treated.
The move to five-axis machining began two years ago with the acquisition of three DMG machines, a DMU 200 P, a DMU 80 P and a DMU 50 Evolution. Mr. Mellor explained the choice by saying: "DMG could provide good, strong machines, of the various types we needed for our range of work. Another benefit is that all have similar controls, despite having different configurations.”

PowerMILL was bought specifically for its five-axis capabilities, since the company’s previous software couldn’t do five-axis programming. Speed of programming was the main reason for the choice. "The Delcam engineer completed our benchmark job in a day,” remembered Mr. Mellor. "No-one else could do it in the time. We have never had a problem from the first job, a real achievement since we need to program something different every day.” 
"PowerMILL gives us a lot more visual feedback, which is essential with the more complex five-axis operations,” added Mr. Mellor. "It is much faster when handling large files of complex data. In addition, we can generate a better finish and so produce a higher quality part for the customer.”
"I have much more confidence in PowerMILL. Our previous software could gouge unless the toolpaths were checked very carefully. Now we can increase productivity by running production components un-manned over the weekend and keep some stock on the shelves.”

PowerSHAPE provides essential support in three ways. With older components, there is often no CAD model so a PowerSHAPE model has to be created from drawings before programming can start. The software is also used to design fixtures and to aid programming in PowerMILL by isolating sections of the geometry, creating datums and generating set-up sheets.

As well as reducing cutting times, five-axis machining with PowerMILL and PowerSHAPE can also minimise lead times by reducing the number of set-ups required. In some cases, parts that would have needed to be produced in three or four operations can now be made in a single operation.