WorkNC takes the problem out of programming at Expert Tooling & Automation

July 23, 2009 -- (SESCOI)

Expert Tooling & Automation in the UK is part of the Expert Tooling Group of companies and although it’s primary business is with the automotive industry it is thriving despite the current economic downturn. Turnover has grown to £8 million and according to Managing Director, Angelo Luciano, can be attributed to the uniquely broad range of skills the company offers to its customers that few of its competitors can emulate. It is a specialist in producing various tooling and automated special purpose machinery for the production of automotive, machine tool and aerospace products. To guarantee its continued efficiency in its chosen field, the company invested in WorkNC CAM/CAD software to ensure the trouble free machining of its 3D tooling.

One area where Expert Tooling & Automation has been very successful is in the development of interior trim panels for low volume luxury vehicle manufacturers in which complex 3D tooling is required for the accurate location of the veneer laminates prior to bounding onto a substrate, and to also hold the component during the trimming of apertures and excess material. Expert Tooling & Automation has the skills necessary to produce a complete solution for these applications at its Coventry factory. These include designing and machining of its tools and fixtures, specialization in pneumatics to build the clamping and operating mechanisms, and expertise in electronic technology to ensure the overall control and safe operation of the special purpose machines it supplies.

All the tools it produces include 3D shapes, which need to exactly match the surface forms of the panels its customers have designed. WorkNC accepts native CAD data and quickly translates car line designs to the desired machine datum ready for machining. Just one seat of WorkNC keeps Expert Tooling & Automation’s six Hurco machines running 24 hours per day. Simon Doleman, Manufacturing Manager, says, “Our previous CAM system was too cumbersome. WorkNC was recommended to us and, in fact, Rolls-Royce asked us to use it to enable us to share native CAM files.”

As part of its turnkey service to one particular luxury vehicle manufacturer, the company supplies multi cavity trimming fixtures and the associated 5-axis WorkNC trimming program for finishing the parts on the customer’s own machinery. Simon Doleman adds, “The vacuum fixture we supply contains a complete set of panels for one car, which suits the customized nature of the vehicle and the relatively low volumes. Sescoi worked with us to optimize the 5-axis trimming programs, enabling us to deliver a complete and proven solution to our customer.”

Expert Tooling & Automation organizes its WorkNC programs to maximize its machine utilization and minimize risk. Programs are written so that roughing operations are completed during the day shift and the long finishing operations overnight and at weekends, when the factory operates on a skeleton staff. Simon Doleman says, “Roughing is higher risk as tips may need to be changed, while the finishing operations produced by WorkNC never give us any problems. The latter can be successfully run unattended out of normal working hours. Operators already manage more than one machine during the day, so the unmanned working means we achieve nearly 100% machine utilization while eliminating the majority of our labor costs, which makes us very competitive.

The efficiency of the cutterpaths produced by WorkNC, the powerful toolpath editing and the tool library are features of the software which Expert Tooling & Automation greatly appreciates. Simon Doleman adds, “We have set up all the feeds and speeds for hard steel, aluminum and wood, which makes it easy to select the right cutting conditions. We have also noticed that WorkNC produces smooth cutting trajectories with very little wasted movement, and its graphical toolpath editing is fast and efficient and ensures that we are always climb milling. When we visit our customers we sometimes see our competitors tooling. The surface finish on ours is far superior.

Since installing WorkNC, programming of toolpaths has become easy and reliable. Simon Doleman concludes, “WorkNC is of paramount importance to us and we are very pleased with it. What used to be a source of problems for us has now become a routine exercise, which gives us absolute confidence in the results that WorkNC produces. We are also delighted with the support we get from Sescoi. Their engineers helped us at our customers sites, making sure the 5-axis programs we supplied worked perfectly on their machines.”

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