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Delcam’s FeatureCAM makes bike-builder’s dream a reality

Ted Tanouye holding one of his competition-winning bike frames made from parts machined with FeatureCAM

A combination of Delcam’s FeatureCAM CAM software and a Haas machine tool has allowed Ted Tanouye, owner of custom bike builder Chumba Wumba, to take the leap into design and manufacturing, and so realise his dream to build the best bikes on the market.  Mr. Tanouye is one of many small business owners to take advantage of the dramatic changes in the face of manufacturing over the past few years.  The boom in smaller, more affordable machine tools and PC-based CADCAM systems has opened the world of CNC machining to a much wider audience.

Chumba Wumba initially began as a retail bike shop in Anaheim, California, but requests for custom-built bike frames eventually took over the business.  Now the company not only designs and builds custom bike frames, it also runs a professional racing team where all the designs are tested to the limit.

The machined parts were originally outsourced but the long lead times slowed down the creative process, leading to frustration for both the designer and the customer.  There is a big difference between going from concept to finished part on the same day and waiting two weeks for the same part.

"Quit dreaming about it and do it!” resolved Mr. Tanouye.  With an engineering background but no practical machining experience, he took the leap into manufacturing by purchasing a compact Haas VMC machine and FeatureCAM CAM software.

Mr. Tanouye admits that his decision wouldn’t have been possible ten years ago because of the large cash outlay.  However, things have changed over the past few years.  Machine tools and the software to run them have become more and more affordable.

Both equipment and software has also become easier to use.  "I purchased the Haas and FeatureCAM at about the same time,” remembered Mr. Tanouye.  "I had one week of training on the Haas and learned FeatureCAM on my own.  Within two weeks, I was designing and machining my own parts.”

"I chose FeatureCAM because it’s a native Windows program so the look and feel of the software is very intuitive,” he added.  "I also like the automatic selection of tools and feeds and speeds.  It is very fast and very easy to design and program parts in FeatureCAM.  Creating features is just point and click, then the NC programming is done automatically.”

"I really believe that no experience is necessary.  The software is so intuitive that anyone with an engineering background can sit down with FeatureCAM for the first time and be creating code in just a few hours.”

"Thirty-five parts, that means every item on the racing chassis down to the cable guides, are designed and manufactured in-house with the use of FeatureCAM,” claimed Mr. Tanouye.  "Other programmers are amazed by how fast and easily parts can be produced with FeatureCAM and it keeps getting better with every upgrade.”

21 March 2007