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Advancing Aerospace Manufacturing With CAD/CAM

Advancing Aerospace Manufacturing With CAD/CAM

CNC Software (Mastercam) explains how today’s CAD/CAM can help you succeed in the increasingly competitive aircraft component manufacturing space.

Innovation in the aerospace industry is experiencing a resurgence of sorts, with the idea of tourist flights into space becoming more of a reality with the new technologies coming out of Blue Origin, SpaceX, and Virgin Galactic. From space age materials to tiny, tight-tolerance components, to cutting-edge engine and propulsion technologies, aerospace manufacturers have always been the visionaries of innovative design. Innovative design brings with it, however, the need for innovative manufacturing practices. A design is no good unless it can be turned into an actual part. 

Machining technology has evolved ten-fold since that first rocket ship was built. As has the computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software to power those machines. Here, we shall discuss the latest innovations in CAM software and how the new functionality helps push the machines to their full potential, yielding parts never before imaginable in record time.

Commercial Aviation Industry: Current Industry Snapshot

As of January 2020, the global commercial aviation industry, with a market value of nearly $5 trillion, was expected to grow slowly but steadily thanks to soaring travel demand, increasing globalisation, rising gross domestic product, liberalisation of air transport, and urbanisation. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting disruption to the global economy have led to a “wait and see” approach to determine the full impact on aerospace manufacturing and whether or not it will make an already highly competitive situation even more so.

While order backlogs decreased slightly with the reduction in fleets, it remains to be seen as to whether these orders will be filled in the near-term. For now, the aerospace industry is contending with the fallout of the COVID-19 crisis and adjusting as necessary.

Industry Challenges: Aircraft Component Supply

Aerospace component manufacturing is one of the most demanding industries and will be for the foreseeable future. Part design and development innovations have exploded since the order boom first began about 10 years ago. New materials and effective, profitable production processes have also followed suit. 

However, despite the fact that aerospace component manufacturing is more high-tech than ever, the pressure is still on for quick turnaround times to meet high delivery rates. Although the current statistics show a slowdown in orders, the production and delivery backlogs are still very real. Generally speaking, the supplier must take a systematic approach with the optimal CNC machine tools, spindles, fixtures, cutting tools, coolant systems, controls, and software. 

How CAD/CAM Software Can Benefit Aircraft Component Manufacturing

Focusing on one aspect of the system, CAD/CAM software, is one area of opportunity for improved aircraft component production. One might not initially think that it is a vital aspect of success in making aircraft components. However, it is an important behind-the-scenes player in producing the complex parts specified by aerospace manufacturers.

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Flexible Production Capacity

Flexible Production Capacity

With the right tools and state-of-the-art CAM software, toolmakers and mould makers can keep their production capacity flexible, and will be able to ramp it up by up to 85 percent once the economy picks up again. Article by Michael Knauer, Hoffmann Group.

Flexible Production Capacity

Parabolic Performance Cutting (PPC) with a larger effective radius achieves better surfaces in less time.

Toolmakers and mould makers are amongst the companies keeping a firm handle on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Many companies are asking themselves how they can weather the storm unscathed as far as possible and adapt their capacity quickly once the market improves. This has placed the spotlight on production methods such as ‘circle-segment milling’, also known as ‘Parabolic Performance Cutting (PPC)’ or ‘barrel milling’.

PPC tools enable the finishing work for a tool mould to be completed up to nine times faster or, alternatively, the surface quality to be improved up to 80-fold. For example, Koller Formenbau GmbH has used PPC milling cutters supplied by the Hoffmann Group to reduce the finish machining time for geometrically defined surfaces from 100 hours to 15 hours. The PPC method is also ideally suited to finish machining work on 3D-printed parts.

Reasonable Expense

On PPC tools, the main cutting edge on the milling cutters is curved. Compared against a classic ball-nosed slot drill where the effective radius is half the tool diameter, PPC tools have a much larger effective radius, up to 1,000 millimetres, thus permitting a significantly larger engagement length on the workpiece. However, their more complex geometry means they place higher demands on the CAM software. The software not only needs to offer the ‘circle-segment milling’ strategy, it must also have a tooling database which holds the exact geometries of the PPC tools. What’s more, since the tools are aligned obliquely to the workpiece, the method can only be employed in conjunction with a 5-axis milling machine. Not all 5 axes need to be in use here. Often, once the tool has been set up, the draft angles can also be finished with 1 to 2 axes clamped. It may also be possible for flat faces and freely accessible surfaces with no interfering contours to be machined on a 3-axis machine. In the past there were only a few software programs that offered the ‘circle-segment milling’ functionality. However, that is no longer the case. Koller Formenbau, for instance, already used a 5-axis machine and the Hypermill software, so they only needed the right tool. At reasonable expense, the company was able to boost productivity by up to 85 percent, thereby increasing its capacity without having to procure a new machine. 

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Hexagon: Time-Saving And Productivity Enhancements In Latest VISI

Hexagon: Time-Saving And Productivity Enhancements In Latest VISI

A raft of new and enhanced functionality features in VISI 2021 – the latest release of Hexagon’s specialist mould and die CAD/CAM software.

CAD:

CAD analysis benefits from a new function which improves the suite of analysis shading modes. Draft Analysis has been added to the existing Undercut and Accessibility shading, performing an on-the-fly analysis of the draft angle. This uses the same technique as in the undercut mode, but extended to more ranges. The colours and angular value of each range can be changed by simply clicking on the colours or numeric labels on the graphics toolbar.

Repair functions used in the Repair Invalid Faces of Bodies command are now integrated in the Validate command. It is now also possible to zoom in on any potential issues using the Auto Zoom function.

Developments to the CAD Reverse module enhance the Reverse and Casting processes. VISI Product Owner Marco Cattaneo explains that the scanning operation has been improved with the shaded view, giving better and faster feedback.

With Point Scanning, the shaded point cloud is now shown during the scanning operation, giving the operator an immediate view of what has been correctly scanned, and if anything is missing.

An additional option has been added to automatically create a mesh as a scanning result, which he says is particularly valuable when a quicker, rather than detailed, result is needed.

Enhancements to probing during the Reverse process now detect the correct diameter of the part in relation to the position of the probed points. A Circle/Slot probing feature has been added for probing and designing a circle or slot, giving several options to guarantee the probed element is the correct size and in the correct position.

MOULD – Body to Mould

Additional options to existing commands, along with new items of functionality, make part position management considerably easier.

With Body to Mould, there is a new option to select multiple elements, including solids and surfaces, and move the selected bodies to the mould position. During the part positioning, ‘non-uniform scaling values’ can now be defined by the user, and the system automatically sets the relative shrinkage data in a special Assembly Manager field (Bill of Materials).

With Mould to Body, the system allows multiple element to be selected, including solids and surfaces, and to move the complete mould back into Body position. “This will be valuable for operators using CMM to check tools in the body position. When they select the part to move back, they get an option to select multiple elements to go with the tool back to Body position,” says Marco Cattaneo.

PROGRESS – Part Unfolding

To provide a powerful and complete solution to this new unfolding approach, additional features have been included for flanges and non-linear bends.  The Part Definition feature has been improved, giving better and faster part analysis, identifying the different face types, defining material, and setting linear bends unfolding. Different colours can be set, relating to different neutral fibre values, giving quick identification for unfolded linear bends and fibre value.

A new feature manages flange unfolding on the analysed part, and shows the result in preview mode, so the operator can evaluate the result and set different parameters, while preserving the link with the original part. This automatically recalculates the flanged part, meaning all linked parts can then be rebuilt in reference to a modification on the original.

CAM Simulation

An interface with Hexagon’s G-code simulator, NCSIMUL Advanced comes as a cost option in VISI 2021. Marco Cattaneo explains that NCSIMUL manages the complete machining process from the NC program to the machined part.

 

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Efficiency And Speed Make Kencoa Aerospace Machining Top Notch

Efficiency and Speed Make Kencoa Aerospace Machining Top Notch

Using CAD/CAM software has helped this aerospace parts manufacturer achieve increased efficiencies and shorter lead times. Article by Mastercam.

Efficiency and Speed Make Kencoa Aerospace Machining Top Notch

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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Hypertherm Releases Version Update Of CAD/CAM Nesting Software: ProNest 2021

Hypertherm Releases Version Update Of CAD/CAM nesting software: ProNest 2021

Hypertherm has released ProNest 2021, a major version update of its advanced CAD/CAM nesting software for automated cutting. This new release contains new features and enhancements designed to make customers more efficient and profitable. These features include:

  • Redesigned 2D CAD package provides improved font support, ability to shape text, and other new features that are especially popular among sign makers.
  • CAD editor preference users to set a default CAD program for edits to parts in the ProNest part list. Select the embedded ProNest CAD software or choose a third-party software such as AutoCAD.
  • Part report quickly opened from the part list so users can add individual part reports with an image of the part, plus dimensions, size, material, class, process, costing information, and more.
  • Interior bridge cutting to add bridges to text and other interior geometry so that pieces don’t drop when cut. This helps minimise interior cutouts on parts for aesthetic purposes and reduces tip-ups.

“ProNest 2021 builds on the strong foundation of ProNest 2019 to make the programming process more efficient,” said Tom Stillwell, Marketing Project Manager for Hypertherm CAD/CAM software products. “Whether using plasma, waterjet, laser, or oxyfuel cutting, this new version provides the powerful tools fabricators and manufacturers need to increase material savings, boost productivity, lower operating costs, and improve part quality.”

In addition, Hypertherm is releasing upgrades to its ProNest LT software for lighter production environments. Users with an active subscription, and customers with an active maintenance plan can upgrade to the new version of their respective product at no additional charge and continue to receive unlimited technical support, and other benefits.

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Integrated CAM/Postprocessor Module Simplifies Creation Of Part Programs In CNC Cutting Machines

Integrated CAM/Postprocessor Module Simplifies Creation Of Part Programs In CNC Cutting Machines

CNC specialist NUM has launched a new HMI (human-machine interface) software package that features a fully integrated CAM/postprocessor module to further simplify and accelerate the creation of part programs for CNC cutting machines. The software also includes two new real-time analytical functions for water jet cutting applications, designed to improve cutting accuracy and quality.

Many of the world’s leading manufacturers of water jet, laser and plasma beam cutting machines nowadays choose to base their products on NUM’s CNC systems, in no small part due to the inherent functionality and control flexibility of the company’s Flexium+ platform. Launched in 2012, Flexium+ has acquired an enviable reputation amongst machine manufacturers and end users for its control flexibility and ease of use – and NUM continuously enhances the platform to address users’ changing needs and new cutting machine technology.

The latest version of NUM’s software for CNC cutting machines is the result of significant development work. It embodies Industry 4.0 connectivity principles and features an entirely new HMI, known as NUMcut, which incorporates functionality that previously required separate CAD/CAM postprocessor computing resources.

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Users generally prepare part programs for CNC cutting applications upstream of the machine in the production area, on some form of CAD/CAM system. A key element of this work involves post-processing the resultant ISO file to incorporate machine-specific cutting data. This is a highly iterative procedure, which can lead to interpretation errors and time-consuming resolution of machining issues.

To shorten the path, NUMcut includes a powerful, machine-resident CAM/postprocessor module. The only data that needs to be transferred to the machine prior to commencing cutting operations concerns the geometry of the part and the desired quality of each cut. This data can be derived from virtually any type of CAD/CAM software, running, for example, on a standard PC.

All other necessary data, such as cutting speeds, abrasive quantity as a function of the material to be cut, etc., are calculated by the control system itself. The CAM/postprocessor module utilises a technology database containing all the relevant information needed by the control system in order to automatically generate an executable part program. The values in the database are preloaded by the machine manufacturer, and can be modified or added to by users if necessary – for example, to accommodate new materials.

The database itself – which effectively contains the expertise of the production company – can either be located on individual cutting machines, or stored on a network drive so that it can be accessed by several machines.

The NUMcut HMI displays all files that are available to the machine operator in a clear, unambiguous style. Using the CNC system’s touch-sensitive screen, the operator can determine each successive machine action simply by clicking and dragging icons from the pool of files into a ‘job list’. Both the job that is currently being processed by the machine, and the current position of the cutting tool within the job, are marked graphically. If required, the operator can change the job list while it is being processed to accommodate different production needs, such as express deliveries.

NUMcut also offers two real-time analytical functions for water jet cutting applications. During water jet cutting, the processing speed needs to be decreased before corners in order to reduce the wake of the cutting jet and thus maintain the cutting quality. Using data from the technology database, NUMcut’s adaptive feed control (AFC) function analyses the path geometry and automatically optimises the cutting speed to best suit the curve radius or corner angle.

Another inherent characteristic of water jet cutting is that the shape of the kerf changes with the cutting conditions, which means that a significant change of gap width can develop, depending on the speed. If this inaccuracy needs to be compensated for, NUMcut offers a variable offset control (VOC) function. This allows the cutting path to be changed automatically, so that the final contour of the part remains true to size despite the changing radius of the cutting jet, thereby maintaining the dimensional accuracy of each cut part.

 

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Faster Robot Programming With Hypertherm Robotmaster Version 7.2

Faster Robot Programming With Hypertherm Robotmaster Version 7.2

Hypertherm, a U.S. based manufacturer of industrial cutting systems and software, has announced a new version update to Robotmaster V7, its CAD/CAM based offline robot programming software. This new release contains targeted features and enhancements designed to make customers more efficient and profitable. New features include:

  • Path Transform

Path Transform allows users to copy, move, array, or mirror the path(s) in different or multiple locations on the part. This new feature eliminates redundant work and expedites the programming.

  • The All-New Intelligent Cell and Tooling Creator

Integrators, partners, and end-users can now set up their robotic cell inside of Robotmaster themselves. Its intuitive user interface with real-time visual feedback enables users to calibrate, optimise, validate, and commission their robotic cell and tooling up to 10 times faster with unparalleled ease!

  • New Welding Tools

The new welding tools will highlight how easy path creation has gotten in welding. The new welding selection method improves path creation in a visual method which virtually eliminates the need to modify the geometry to select the welding seams while minimising the number of clicks. This method and the new touch sensing grouping not only speeds up the process up to 10 times faster but also simplifies the overall workflow.

  • Geometry Filtering 

New Geometry Filtering feature automatically filters out bad geometry edges to create quality paths, without worrying about bad geometry edges being unusable. The geometry filtering not only allows for cleaner path creation, but also smoother robotic motion.

  • Video Tutorials 

Maximise the full potential of your software and get up to speed faster than ever with a new library of video tutorials—from step-by-step part programming videos to brand new Cell and Tool Editor tutorials.

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FARO Offers New Capabilities With CAM2 2020 Software

FARO Offers New Capabilities With CAM2 2020 Software

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.

 

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RADAN Powers Paradigm Shift To Digitally Focused “Web Shops”

RADAN Powers Paradigm Shift To Digitally Focused “Web Shops”

Manufacturers’ analogue business processes are being converted into digital-focused “web shops,” based on the leading sheet metal software, RADAN.

RADAN’s German reseller, 3D Concepts, who are renowned for their innovative CAD/CAM solutions, have worked with a number of their customers to analyse the digital change philosophy of Industry 4.0, and developed individual concepts.

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Thomas Menholz, from 3D Concepts, says digital building blocks such as CAD/CAM, MES, MRP and ERP can all come together in SQL-based systems to form data-driven Smart factories. “Every company needs to find its own unique path on the basis of a dedicated digitalisation strategy.

“An important aspect of the digital trend is the introduction of a web shop for the procurement of sheet metal parts, where customers can request components online, be provided with an offer, and place the order. Web shops operate autonomously, and are accessible 24 hours a day.”

As an increasing number of products are being developed in 3D CAD systems, web shops are based on 3D sheet metal parts provided in STEP and other similar files, along with 2D cuts from files such as DXF format. “The digital twin is created as a forerunner to the real product which comes later. Also, it’s likely that 3D data will replace 2D data in future, and that will simplify the processing without the need for further queries.

READ: Hexagon Upgrades VISI CAD/CAM Software

“At the moment, additional queries prevent seamless process handling, which is why this paradigm shift is very welcome for many suppliers and contract manufacturers in the sheet metal industry.”

3D Concepts has recently implemented a web shop for Trio Metall und Design GmbH, in Luhe-Wildenau. Trio is a contract producer of sheet metal components, providing a complete service from consulting, designing and planning, through to manufacturing ‘ready-for-assembly’ components, ranging from single parts and small runs, to large quantities. Using latest laser technology, they also work with non-ferrous metals such as copper, brass and titanium.

The digital strategy began early last year, focused around digitising internal processes and creating a web shop, Trionline 24, for the procurement of sheet metal parts. “At the same time, we linked these new processes to their existing ERP system, and controlled their new laser machine tools with RADAN.”

READ: Hexagon Launches Specialist Sheet Metal CAD for CAM

Trio’s Key Account Manager Christian Weinberg says the web shop automates their quotation preparation, which was time consuming when carried out manually. “We’ve also noticed that larger inquiries, such as for complete welding assemblies, are now sent directly to us via the web shop, which led to us investing in RADAN’s offline quotation module, Radquote, for calculating complete assemblies.  This almost halved the time taken in preparing quotes.”

 

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