Here’s how ESPRIT is helping Quick Drive keep up with the constantly evolving demands and innovations of the racing industry
Quick Drive LLC is a Colorado-based manufacturer of a proprietary line of high-performance drivetrain components for auto racing. Their parts are designed, engineered, prototyped, and manufactured in-house. That’s no small feat for a company that serves customers all over the globe.
“We have clients on every continent with a racetrack, from the United States to South Africa and beyond,” says Brock Graves, Quick Drive’s owner/operator.
Brock and his team get it done using milling, turning, and mill-turn processes on a number of machines. On the Quick Drive shop floor, you’ll encounter both a Haas VF-2SS and a VF-4 vertical machining centre, a Haas UMC-750 5-axis machining centre, a Haas ST-20Y live tool lathe, a Takisawa EX-100 lathe, and a Mazak INTEGREX 200sy.
Originally, Quick Drive relied on a third-party company to produce their programming. But working with an outside agency began to present challenges as the company grew and their production increased.
“As we started to ramp up our development, prototyping and constant part changes posed a big issue with quick turnaround times. In 2017, we made the decision to bring programming in-house,” says Brock. But shifting to internal programming meant choosing a CAM software to keep up with their shop’s brisk pace.
“After shopping many of the CAM options available, we decided to go with ESPRIT,” Brock says. What was the deciding factor? “ESPRIT could offer us proven post processors generated by their team of experts to work directly with our specific machines. And the simulation capabilities were like nothing else existing in the industry.”
The sheer breadth of components manufactured by Quick Drive is one element of their success.
“We build drive units, torque converters, and specialty pneumatic products for drag racing, monster trucks, tractor pullers, drag boats, land speed vehicles, and various high-end custom vehicles,” says Brock. “Our drive unit is composed of more than 20 individual components. The most complex part is a full-billet aluminium case that starts life as a 113-pound cube. It gets machined down to around 11 pounds over the course of about 27 hours of 5-axis machine time. Our converters are made from 6061 aluminium and use a combination of ProfitMilling, trochoidal channel roughing, and the 5-axis impeller strategy to complete.”
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.
FARO Technologies Incorporated has released its latest CAM2 2020 Software. The release includes a variety of performance and user interface improvements, new features and a new subscription licensing option. Users can now achieve greater control over their full manufacturing process at a lower up-front cost in this latest iteration of the metrology software platform.
The new subscription model empowers users to benefit from CAM2 with a lower initial investment. It offers scalability through a flexible licensing model and ensures users always have access to the latest and most up to date version of CAM2.
“FARO CAM2 is a powerful, intuitive and application-focused 3D measurement platform designed to help users efficiently fulfil their quality assurance and inspection tasks. We’re pleased to offer a software experience developed directly from our customers’ feedback, based on the metrology needs they encounter every day,” said Michael Carris, Vice President of Product Marketing. “What’s more, this release strengthens the relationship between quality assurance and production operations with new capabilities that ensure even greater process control.”
FARO CAM2 2020 is helping users get the most from their manufacturing processes, with an intuitive, streamlined and application-focused platform. Through a continuous improvement process, user feedback and requirements are continually collected, integrated and deployed. FARO CAM2 2020 is the culmination of these efforts, which lead to a variety of new features, including an enhanced measurement experience and an updated statistical process control tool that assists users in identifying production data trends that may indicate when a process is moving out of a specified parameter. Being able to predict this kind of error reduces wasted time, scrap and rework, and helps keep production capacity at full strength. As part of an established line-up of smart features, this release represents a fully realised solution for the everyday production tasks of the customer.
Hypertherm has announced a minor version update to ProNest 2019, its advanced CAD/CAM nesting software for automated cutting. This new release contains targeted features and enhancements designed to make customers more efficient and profitable. New features include:
PDF import so programmers and operators can directly import vector-based PDF files such as engineering drawings or specification sheets, eliminating the need for separate .dxf and .dwg files to make the importing of parts and job quoting easier and faster.
Scribe textadditions that make it possible to automatically mark parts during import with unique identifying information such as a part name, customer name, or work order number.
Reposition work zones allows parts to span multiple work zones in a single nest as reposition machines can now cut parts in sections, beginning the cut in one work zone before repositioning and completing the cut in another zone.
“These feature additions incorporate feedback directly from our customer base, providing users with the specific tools they need to increase both productivity and profitability,” said Tom Stillwell, Marketing Project Manager for Hypertherm CAD/CAM software products. “At the same time, the software remains easy to use with a highly intuitive user interface that benefits both new and experienced users.”
In addition, Hypertherm is announcing several major improvements to its ProNest LT software, designed for light industrial cutting. New features being added to ProNest LT include:
Cutting techniques used to specify how parts should be cut based on sections of a part’s geometry. For example, automatically adjusting cut speeds for corners, leads, and arcs.
Automatic height control can be automatically disabled based on certain parameters such as interior profile size, crop cuts, skeleton cuts, or lead-outs.
An injection mould manufacturer—Alpha Precision—has seen a recent resurgence of toolmaking in its native Irish Republic, and the software they are using has helped them through the recession by giving them a competitive edge to work in high-end markets. Contributed by Vero Software
The manufacturer is based in Tubbercurry, Ireland, and they operate an almost full suite of VISI modules by Vero Software.
Brendan Feely, director, Alpha Precision, said: “Several years ago Ireland experienced an exodus of toolmaking contracts as work went overseas, particularly to China. At the same time, the VISI CAD/CAM software for the mould and die industry was rapidly developing and adding new features. Even companies which were not computer literate were investing in the technology to survive. The software had a huge effect on the toolmaking industry, giving us a competitive advantage to weather the storm.”
Mr Feely described his manufacturing process as skilled staff building high end mould tools with good software. “The technology promotes a more automated process, and means our staff need a different skillset nowadays, to use the software to its full potential.”
To explain fully how he felt the software acts as the glue in the complete toolmaking environment, he likens his toolroom to a football team. “We need our goalkeeper, defenders, midfielders and strikers. We have a variety of different machines doing different jobs, so our operators have different skills. The software’s applied on the back of the machining, and because there are several disciplines, such as design, milling, wire and spark eroding, the software fits naturally into its given area. The operator in that area is just trained on the one particular software module.”
Continuing the “team” analogy, Mr Feely said the toolroom is like a group of people from different countries with none of them speaking a language other than their own. “One language is design, with others including flow analysis, milling, wire eroding, spark erosion.”
The software is the common language that unites all processes, ensuring everything moves fluently through the toolroom from one discipline to another.
Operating with 12 employees, the company produces an average of around 40 tools a year, ranging in size from 100mm x 100mm x 100mm, up to 600mm x 1,000 m, mainly for the automotive, medical, packaging and electronics industry sectors.
Two of their current projects: Producing a number of high cavitation tools for one of their many medical customers; and a contract for two-shot plastic injection tools, which involves an overmould. “Although two-shot production adds another element by involving a second material and process, VISI keeps it simple and efficient.”
With the software’s programs running their high speed milling on Röder, and F3 and F5 Makino machining centres, the challenges posed by the medical industry requiring very fine micro levels, are readily overcome.
“We use the 42,000 rpm spindle speed for very small detail finishing, and cut our electrodes on the Makino F3, with high definition being done on the F5. And we can also machine a cavity in just one night, that would otherwise take a week. Using VISI Machining we can quickly produce a highly polished medical part with fine detail, a milled finish, and a split line within micron accuracy,” explained Mr Feely.
The software is also capable of powering the manufacturer’s electrical discharge machining systems for spark eroding, and wire eroders. Mr Feely said parts of the tool will have been cut on each of the machines, and when it is ready for shipping it is a very fine-micron, accurately controlled finished tool for, typically, the medical or automotive industry.
Having invested in the software’s modules which include modelling, analysis, flow, mould, progress, the wire cutting and electrode systems, along with 2D milling, 3D milling and high speed milling, the software is used at every stage of their process, beginning with providing an accurate quotation for the customer.
“We use the software’s analytical tools to check the drafts and all the different features we’ll need to build into the mould, such as the core and side pieces. When the order’s been placed, we work closely with our customer’s moulders on the design concept, including flow analysis and tool layout,” explained Mr Feely.
“Once the 2D design is broken down and we have the tooling in full 3D we really begin to see the huge power of VISI, which controls everything from design, through milling to wiring in one environment. Because we’re not going across translators there’s a perfect understanding within the technology, taking it right through every stage,” added Mr Feely.
Combining the software’s Compass technology with its 2D and 3D milling capability, all milling for hard prepping and high speed finishing is handled quickly and accurately, which he said is vital to their operation. “We make a lot of one-off custom components for each mould, meaning we only run a program once. As pattern cutters we need to be very good at generating CNC code time after time, and VISI is exceptional at doing that job for us.”
Although injection mould tools forms Alpha Precision’s core business, they also provide a blow moulding and forming tool service, and have experience in specialised press tooling. But Mr Feely concluded by saying they are currently embarking on an exciting new journey, working closely with one of their major customers on injection rubber.
The Radan 2018 R1 will focus on CAD/CAM and Industry 4.0, and includes a number of items with new functionality. An example of this is Radmanager. The system now accepts feedback from the shop floor regarding the cutting progress. This means the stock management and order processing functions can immediately update the stock control.
All aspects that make an impact on how much it costs to bend a part will be taken into consideration with Radquote, such as how many bends are required, how many turns or flips the operation needs to provide an accurate cost calculation. In addition, it calculates the cost of an entire 3D assembly, rather than individual parts.
CamInstructor has new online CNC programming training courses for manufacturers. The course offerings are designed for people new to CNC machine tool programming as well as for more experienced programmers who may need a refresher or get up to speed on the latest software release.
It includes comprehensive training in Mastercam CAD/CAM software, Solidworks CAD software, CNC programming and instruction on setting up and operating CNC machines.
The PTC Creo 3.0 is an integrated workflow developed by PTC and Stratasys, in a joint effort to enable users a seamless workflow from design to 3D print.
Users can perform informed design specification, file preparation, print optimisation and print execution for Stratasys 3D printing solutions using the PTC software.
This integrated solution also overcomes conventionally cumbersome and inefficient processes in additive manufacturing by combining the use of multiple tools with 3D CAD software. This would essentially benefit all additive manufacturers of the different industries.
Mastercam’s latest version of its CAD/CAM software features dynamic motion toolpaths that maximises safe engagement and can reduce cycle times by 25 to 75 percent. The dynamic motion feature enables material removal analysis and results in shorter cycle times, and longer tool and machine life.
The software’s accelerated finishing technology, called Finish, enables reduced finishing cycle times and improved surface finishing. The updated version also features milling advances that allows improved stock awareness, smoother hybrid toolpaths, and deeper control over tool motion aspects.
Massachusetts, US: The developers of Mastercam, CNC Software, have partnered with Kennametal to provide customers with the ability to import tool assemblies directly into Mastercam 2018. The integration of Kennametal’s software suite Novo allows users to save time searching for desired tools and building 3D tool assemblies that can be brought directly into Mastercam for use.