Using CAD/CAM software has helped this aerospace parts manufacturer achieve increased efficiencies and shorter lead times. Article by Mastercam.
When Kencoa Aerospace began its operations 20 years ago, they were a small company focused on defense applications. But, according to Troy Boston, engineering manager for the company’s U.S.-based operations, they have also progressed into commercial aerospace over the past five to six years and consider themselves very diverse in terms of the parts they can machine for well-known clients such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Gulf Stream, and more.
While headquartered globally in South Korea, the U.S.-based aerospace operation is a Tier-1 supplier of multiaxis precision machined aerostructures, jet engine components, and major assemblies of commercial, military, and business/regional jets.
“We machine anything from plastics, stainless steel, titanium, all the way up to Inconel,” Boston says. He continued to explain that the part sizes they create can range from the size of a quarter up to 20-feet long. The majority of these parts are internal structural components for aircraft and can range anywhere from wing components to cargo floor skins.
To create the parts needed for these defense and commercial aerospace clients, Kencoa turned to Mastercam CAD/CAM software (CNC Software Inc., Tolland, CT) for their machining solutions. Their 40,000 square-foot facility, based in Eastman, Georgia, employs 20 machinists, and of these, five are full-time programmers. Boston explained that their programmers have been trained through various methods, making each one valuable in different ways. Some have had formal programming training and classes, while others were formerly machine operators in their shop and worked their way to programmer. This prior experience helps as they can understand the machining side of the job. “We’ve been able to bring them in, and give them on-the-job training plus Mastercam tutorials, either online or print.”
All About the Software
The software allows these programmers to work on challenging orders including those with specifications that require holding close tolerances where their true position is 0.001 or a diameter that is ±0.0003” to 0.0010.” When presented with any manufacturing challenges, the software has helped with so many issues that it is hard for Boston to choose just one benefit it provides.
“What has impressed me over the last several years has been the OptiRough toolpath and how it has progressed and how easy it is to use. You can basically set the size of your stock, and even for a large hog-out, within a few minutes you can have a very good roughing program to be able to remove large amounts of material without a lot of programming time,” says Boston.
This was a time-consuming process that required quite a bit of geometry creation and many separate toolpaths. OptiRough toolpaths use Dynamic Motion but in a more precise way. The cut uses the entire flute length of the tool, but a small percentage of the tool’s diameter on the first cut, followed by several successive shorter cuts that bring the part into the net shape desired. “Now, with the OptiRough program, you can select a part, select your stock, pick a tool, and it’s almost cheating to be honest, because it makes it so easy,” says Boston.
Now, their machines can run aluminum upwards of 400-in/min. Even with titanium, they are able to run their machines at over 100-in/min.
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