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Cam system improves productivity by 30% at precision parts manufacturer

Tech CADCAM : 22 March, 2011  (Application Story)
The GibbsCAM system at Double M Engineering in High Wycombe has enabled the company to produce CNC programs in 10 minutes instead of an hour or more,
Double M Engineering manufactures precision parts for F1 racing teams, marine, oil and gas, and aerospace industries. Typical components include valve bodies, brake and fuel hose connectors, and critical parts for Martin-Baker ejection seats. The company has considerable experience in working with titanium, stainless steel and exotic alloys, and is ISO 9001 registered. Some of the materials are supplied by its customers, so manufacture has to be right first time. The GibbsCAM system plays a key role in achieving this, and has enabled Double M Engineering to build close relationships with its clients.

The ease of use of the GibbsCAM system and advice from Tech CADCAM led Managing Director Mark select the software. “We looked at a lot of systems, but GibbsCAM was by far the easiest to use. It is predictive, making useful assumptions about what we want to do next. We are also able to quickly move and edit operations in response to what is happening on the shop floor, enabling us to optimize our machining processes.” The company receives both paper drawings and CAD models, so the Parasolid modelling capability in GibbsCAM helps the company to create and manipulate its customers designs ready for production. Models created in CATIA V5, NX 5, Pro/Engineer and SolidWorks can all be imported directly into the software ensuring its compatibility with all Double M Engineering’s clients. Mark Phillips adds, “We can produce a CNC programme in 10 to 15 minutes, which enables us to meet the delivery demands of our F1 customers, which can be as short as 4 hours.”

Double M Engineering has three Hardinge Quest lathes with C-axis and sub-spindle, two Hardinge Conquest T42 lathes, two Miyano lathes, two Hurco VMX 5-axis machining centres and a Hardinge VMC600 4-axis machining centre. Programming the different axes is simple in GibbsCAM. The software generates a plane to match the axis requirements of each part of the job, automatically extracting the profile that needs to be machined. Mark Phillips says, “For C-axis and sub-spindle work it makes it easy to visualize the cutting process and avoid collisions. The software also takes account of the reversed Z-axis when working on the sub-spindle, eliminating the possibility of error. For the valve bodies we machine, we can quickly get the compound angles we need to cut different faces of the part. The visualization allows us to examine the methods we have chosen so that, for example, we can see if we are drilling across an existing hole, which can cause inaccuracies in the finished part, and take corrective action.”

Fast and reliable programming has enabled Double M Engineering to machine much more complex parts than was previously possible. Mark Phillips says, “We can evaluate the job more effectively and allow ourselves plenty of time to order special tools and develop the most effective cutting methods. The downtime on the machines through programming is much reduced, and productivity has improved by around 30%. The complex components and tough materials which we can now cut with ease are more profitable, enabling us to build improved partnerships with our customers.”

“Technical support has been excellent,” says Mark Phillips. “When we have a query, we usually get an answer within 30 minutes. GibbsCAM is very important to us, as it is the first stage of the process, and every part we produce goes through it.” Tech CADCAM tailored the postprocessors to suit Double M Engineering’s working methods and machines, ensuring the reliability and accuracy of the CNC code. Mark Phillips continues, “We trust the results it produces completely. It has enabled us to maintain our high quality standards, achieve shorter delivery times and react quickly to urgent requests from our customers. We thought that 5-axis machining would be difficult when we first introduced it, but it is easy with GibbsCAM, which has given us the confidence to invest in new machinery this year in response to an anticipated growth in our business.”

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