CAM Software Helps Precision Fabricator Get to Market Faster
This technical information has been contributed by
Magnus Hi-Tech Industries Inc.
The company eliminates time wasters in the design-to-machining process with software that speeds engineering and CNC programming times while providing true associative machining.
Melbourne, Florida-based Magnus Hi-Tech Industries Inc. (www.magnusht.com) has built a diverse, high-tech customer base by providing high-quality, turnkey manufacturing services that meet a wide range of customers' fabrication needs. The ISO 9001:2000 certified company employs advanced sheet metal fabrication and machining technology, coupled with rigorous quality methodologies, to produce parts for the defense, aerospace, medical, communications, fiber optics, and other demanding industries. Parts produced by Magnus Hi-Tech include holding brackets and complex components for military simulators, as well as housings, struts, mounting blocks, impellers, and military chassis, to name just a few.
Often called on to respond quickly and efficiently to a diverse array of fabricating and machining needs, Magnus Hi-Tech utilizes an equipment lineup that includes laser cutting and EDM (electrical discharge machining), as well as CNC turning and milling machines. The newest member of this lineup is a Mazak 5-axis CNC milling machine. "It is able to machine five sides of a cube in a single setup, drastically reducing changeover times and machine downtime," reports Mike Blake, methods engineer / program manager for Magnus Hi-Tech. It also has the ability to perform its own in-machine measurements and data collection with a CMM-type touch-probe, essentially self-adjusting its programming and tooling to ensure that close tolerances are maintained by monitoring tool wear and part-to-part variations.
The Mazak is an impressive machine that reflects Magnus Hi-Tech's commitment to high-quality precision machining and fabricating. However, part of being good consists of "knowing that you are never good enough," and this commitment to continuous improvement led the company to seek a way to reduce engineering and CNC programming times and decrease time to market. They found it in CAMWorks® (www.camworks.com).
CAMWorks is an intelligent, intuitive, solids-based CAM solution from Geometric Technologies, Inc., (Scottsdale, Arizona), a subsidiary of Geometric Limited. It provides an array of tools to simplify and automate even complex programming tasks, speeding design and programming changes. Its intelligent connection between the solid model and tool path generation provides associativity between CAD and CAM functions, allowing CAMWorks to identify and recalculate toolpaths based on the changes to the part model.
For example, when the depth of a pocket is changed, CAMWorks can update the toolpath automatically. CAMWorks also supports CNC programming of multiple parts for production machining and offers an accurate representation of the virtual machining environment. The design and layout of machine components, parts, work pieces, clamps, and fixtures provide a realistic representation of the machining environment. This not only helps the manufacturing engineer as he or she develops the program, but also the shop-floor machine operator, who has access to set-up documents that show where the parts and fixtures are positioned on the machine.
A key aspect of CAMWorks is its seamless integration with SolidWorks®, the powerful features-based CAD program used by many progressive metalworking shops, including Magnus Hi-Tech. "We offer our customers a fabrication house that can produce their products from prototype to production," says Blake. That journey from prototype to production is rarely a straight line. Changes frequently occur as problems and opportunities surface, and those changes can be time-consuming. "We used to have to reprogram the whole part with our previous CAM software," recalls Blake, "or else use the CAD package associated with that software, which would not bring our SolidWorks model up to the new revision."
Magnus Hi-Tech purchased CAMWorks, in part, in the hope that it would eliminate such problems. They were not disappointed. "There have been parts, for instance, where a customer has needed to move some hole positions, or a pocket was moved to a different location," says Blake. "We used to have to reprogram the model. With CAMWorks, which can work inside SolidWorks, we just change the model to the new revision, automatically regenerate the tool path, then repost it to our Mazak mills, and we're ready to run.
"CAMWorks' ability to automatically accommodate changes to the part model, eliminating a lot of time-consuming CAM system rework due to design updates, makes true associative machining possible," he continues. "Time savings are considerable." This type of scenario is not uncommon, says Blake, and with some customers, it's routine.
One of the ways in which CAMWorks is able to speed CNC programming is through Intelligent Machining, a suite of tools pioneered by Geometric Technologies that automates the generation of toolpaths. One of the tools within this suite is Automatic Feature Recognition (AFR). Through its ability to automatically identify and define prismatic, machinable features, AFR has the potential to cut hours off the time required to move from design to finished part. Automatic Feature Recognition Technology accomplishes this by analyzing the solid model geometry and identifying mill features, such as holes, slots, pockets, and bosses; turning features, such as outside and inside profiles, faces, grooves, and cutoffs; and wire EDM features, such as die openings. It recognizes these features regardless of the CAD system in which they were created.
Further speeding the design-to-machining process is Geometric Technologies' TechDBTM, a technology database that uses knowledge-based machining technology to associate tooling, machining strategies, and parameters to the features. When operations are generated, CAMWorks applies these settings automatically. Significantly, the rules in the TechDB are fully customizable, enabling companies to incorporate their best practices.
"I routinely use Automatic Feature Recognition in creating fixtures for our machining operations," notes Blake. "Together with the Technology Database, it enables CAMWorks to automatically select the right drills and taps. We used to spend most of the day programming fixtures. Not anymore."
Blake cites a major project that Magnus Hi-Tech recently completed: machining critical components for a military chassis. Consisting of a series of complex prismatic parts, the job had to be done accurately and on time. Using CAMWorks, Magnus Hi-Tech was able to create complex machining programs for its Mazak five-axis mill in optimum times, quickly make any required revisions, and generate designs and toolpaths for the needed fixtures. The result was a win for both the military and the company.
Blake also notes that CAMWorks' tight integration with Magnus Hi-Tech's SolidWorks environment facilitates true associative machining, so that any revision to a part design updates not just the SolidWorks solid model, but the CAMWorks file as well. CAMWorks can then automatically generate the new toolpaths, the tool list, and—if required—the fixture modifications as well. This has resulted in time savings on revisions ranging from 20 to 60 percent.
The drawback, it would appear, is that an array of features this powerful must be difficult to install and learn, right? Wrong, says Blake.
"CAMWorks is very easy to install," he insists. "The standard CAMWorks is easy, and the more advanced stuff, like 5-axis machining, is not too hard once you have an understanding of how the toolpathing works. In addition, the interface is clean and easy to understand." Similarly, support—an obstacle in many software applications—gets high marks. "I have always had support when I asked for it," says Blake. "Everyone I've talked to was very easy to work with."
Looking ahead, both CAMWorks and Magnus Hi-Tech, which now has two CAMWorks seats, seem to be similarly focused. "CAMWorks is always making improvements to their product and staying abreast of technology," reflects Blake. "That is the same philosophy we have at Magnus Hi-Tech."
Geometric Technologies is a specialist in engineering solutions, services, and technologies. According to the company, its portfolio of Global Engineering services and Digital Technology solutions for Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) enables companies to formulate, implement, and execute global engineering and manufacturing strategies aimed at achieving greater efficiencies in the product realization lifecycle. Geometric's Desktop Products and Technologies (DPT) business unit develops cutting-edge point productivity software that is said to enhance design and improve manufacturing operations.
End-user products from Geometric include CAMWorks®, eDrawings® Publisher, DFMPro, and GeomCaliper®; key technologies offered by the company include NestLib®, Feature Recognition (FR), GeomDiff and 3DSearchIT®. Geometric licenses these technologies to OEM partners and designs and implements customized process solutions using these technologies for customers. For more information on CAMWorks and Geometric Technologies, visit www.camworks.com or call (480) 367-0132. The company also has a video on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gUexOaDFV0.
The copyright/trademarks of all products referenced herein are held by their respective companies.
Turnkey Contract Manufacturer Offers More than Precision Machining and Sheet Metal Fabrication Title
Magnus Hi-Tech Industries, founded in 1965 by Angelo Bonarrigo Sr. on Long Island, N.Y., has made extensive efforts to distinguish itself from the more traditional, precision sheet metal and machine shop business models. The company's primary business at the time of its founding was sheet metal fabrication for the numerous computer and aerospace firms in the New York area. But after establishing a satellite facility in Melbourne, Florida in 1984 to service its growing number of Southeastern customers, Magnus Hi-Tech continued to expand. The company eventually consolidated its Northeastern and Southeastern operations in Melbourne and, in the 1990s, accommodated its customers' requests to augment its manufacturing capability by adding machining services. At this point, the company was ready to offer what it calls "total turnkey solutions" to its customers.
Today, Magnus Hi-Tech combines in-house sheet metal and laser fabrication with 3- , 4- , and 5-axis machining capabilities, as well as welding, painting, silkscreening, engraving, and mechanical and electrical assembly. In addition, the company offers laser scanning and CMM inspection, and in-house plating and finishing. "When you choose Magnus Hi-Tech, you choose a supplier that offers complete turnkey solutions, all at one location," the company states on its website (www.magnushi-tech.com/about.htm). "Encompassing a variety of services, we are not limited to just sheet metal components or machined items." The company goes on to say that it recognizes the value added for customers that need to manage only one supplier, rather than numerous suppliers, and can help minimize cumbersome logistics while maximizing its customers' sourcing efficiencies. "Our philosophy is to grow and incorporate more services so that our customers can have a go-to supplier for all their needs," the company says.
Magnus Hi-Tech Industries has been ISO 9001:200-certified for sheet metal fabrication and precision machining since 2001.
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