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Meeting The Need For Speed

Meeting the Need for Speed

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.”

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ESPRIT Announces New On-Demand Learning Center For Programmers

ESPRIT Announces New On-Demand Learning Center For Programmers

ESPRIT has announced the release of its on-demand training platform, ESPRIT Learning Center, to the general public.

Traditionally, ESPRIT’s applications engineers lead in-person trainings in ESPRIT offices and also on-site at customer facilities around the world. While application engineers offer some of the best CAM courses in the industry, the ESPRIT team understands that not everyone who needs software training has the resources to travel to an ESPRIT office.

To support customers throughout the pandemic, ESPRIT began conducting instructor-led, online training sessions in early 2020. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. To further satisfy users’ growing appetite for high-quality online training, ESPRIT now introduces the ESPRIT Learning Center to the general public.

The ESPRIT Learning Center is an online training platform with on-demand, self-paced training courses created specifically for ESPRIT CAM programmers. ESPRIT’s top engineers and instructors have poured a huge amount of effort and energy into creating these courses. The first learning paths to be released are “New User Milling,” “New User Turning,” and “New User Mill-Turn.” Each learning path includes five to seven training courses that guide users through several different machine models and part models to introduce different machining processes in ESPRIT.

The main purpose for creating discrete online learning paths is to replicate what a student can learn from an on-site training class. Users may take the course anywhere, and at any time. ESPRIT customers can learn at their own pace while saving the time and cost associated with traveling. Each learning path also comes with one ESPRIT student license for each learner, so users can take the courses at home or in their free time, without interrupting their daily programming or production work.

“ESPRIT Learning Center gives us the exact learning experience that we’ve been looking for. The courses are very thorough, wasting no time getting to the point. Having all the supplied files and models within the course window makes access quick and convenient.” said Scott Hornbeak, programmer at Cassavant Machining. “This online training will not only make it easier for existing ESPRIT users to transition to the new ESPRIT—it will also help our new programmers rapidly get familiar with ESPRIT, without the need to travel to a training site.”

 

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Achieving Quick And Easy Machining

Achieving Quick and Easy Machining

In choosing ESPRIT to write programs for its CNC grinders and wire EDM machine, MCC Tooling found a CAM system so user friendly that the owner’s young grandchildren sometimes use it. More importantly, ESPRIT’s efficient programming is saving MCC Tooling time and money.

MCC Tooling makes and resharpens custom cutting tools, step drills, form tools and dovetail cutters, in quantities ranging from one of a kind to as many as 100 pieces, for customers in the oil, airline and medical industries. Marcus Alexander founded MCC Tooling in 1984 in Garland, Texas, with leased space and a single grinder. It has since grown into a 10-person business with a variety of machines: a Mitsubishi MV1200-R wire EDM with B-axis, a Walter Helitronic Vision CNC grinder, a Walter Power CNC grinder, a Walter Mini CNC, a TRU TECH grinder, 10 K.O. Lee grinders, a Harig surface grinder, a Gallmeyer surface grinder and a Cincinnati #2 centreless grinder. The company works with metals including carbide, stainless steel and high-speed steel.

MCC Tooling began using ESPRIT in 1999, when it purchased its first wire EDM machine, a Mitsubishi FX 10. “After hours of extensive research and vetting different programs and software, we felt ESPRIT would fit our needs and our price range perfectly,” Marcus says. “ESPRIT is user friendly, works seamlessly with our machines, and it integrates well with SolidWorks. It’s so easy that my grandchildren have come here and programmed their own things for us to cut out for them.”

In 2013, ESPRIT helped the shop move to a Mitsubishi MV1200-R with B-axis, which Marcus purchased because it could hold closer tolerances. Initially unfamiliar with the ins and outs of programming it, MCC machinists resorted at first to trial and error. ESPRIT enabled them to get up to speed quickly with the machine.

“One thing that helped us was being able to see the heads moving on the simulation in ESPRIT before running it on the EDM. This ensures we don’t waste time running an incorrect part and saves us money by not scrapping parts,” says Marcus.

The B-axis, a MMK Matsumoto, changed MCC’s world, making indexing from tooth to tooth far more accurate. MCC cuts a lot of multiple flute form cutters. Before the B-axis, making these parts took the shop several operations on different machines and a longer setup time on the EDM. Now, it takes less than two minutes to set up the B-axis, and using ESPRIT, MCC can program tools in only four additional steps.

“We can mount the tool in B-axis and walk away knowing that we’ll get the perfect tool every time,” Marcus says. “Also, with ESPRIT, we can check all the clearance and rake angles on tools to make sure they will work well and that the dimensions are correct.”

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DP Technology Releases The Updated ESPRIT 4.6

DP Technology Releases The Updated ESPRIT 4.6

DP Technology, a leading developer of computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software, announces a new update to their popular New ESPRIT series. The New ESPRIT 4.6 includes features such as turning toolpath enhancements, support for contour-type features in pocketing, and automatic tool orientation for 5-axis toolpath, improved support for multi-spindle and multichannel machines, and a new connection to the Machining Cloud tool catalog.

Version 4.6 includes a series of toolpath enhancements for turning cycles. These enhancements will reduce perishable tooling consumption, minimise intervention from the machine tool operator by creating more predictable machining processes, and reduce the need for manual NC code editing, further improving users’ efficiency.

The new support for contour-type features in pocketing allows users to use ESPRIT’s ProfitMilling cycle to rough out a profile without creating extra boundary geometry. Programming is easier, faster, and it enables automation with KnowledgeBase (KBM) integration. KBM is a centralised database that supports consistent institutional knowledge across an organisation.

5-axis composite automatic tool orientation is a new programming method for the composite cycle. “This is a big leap forward for simplifying 5-axis programming and improving toolpath continuity,” says Yijun Fan, Director of Product Marketing at DP Technology. “It makes it much easier to program 5-axis composite, especially in parts with hard-to-reach areas.” Automatic orientation gives precedence to toolpath continuity, creating a better surface finish on a completed part.

ESPRIT 4.6 enables support for multi-spindle machines with off-center sub-spindle with X-axis slide including machines with tailstock and sub-spindle mounted on the same X-axis slide.

Multichannel machines can be controlled with a new interactive method that synchronises motions within a cycle. This new method enables advanced optimisation for shaving seconds off the program of a high-volume production lathe.

Machining Cloud is the fastest way to find, select, and assemble tools from leading tool manufacturers. ESPRIT improves the connection to Machining Cloud with a simplified workflow and with the introduction of a new job manager for full control over the import of the tool assemblies.

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Hexagon Enhances Its Smart Manufacturing Solutions Portfolio With Acquisition Of D.P. Technology Corp

Hexagon Enhances Its Smart Manufacturing Solutions Portfolio With Acquisition Of D.P. Technology Corp

Hexagon AB, a global leader in sensor, software and autonomous solutions, has announced the signing of an agreement to acquire D.P. Technology Corp. (“D.P. Technology”), a leading developer and supplier of computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) technology. 

The ESPRIT CAM System, its flagship solution, is the smart manufacturing solution for any machining application. Supporting any class of CNC machine via a common interface and workflow, it provides high-performance CNC machine programming, optimisation, and simulation for a broad range of precision manufacturing applications.

Well known for its machine-optimised, edit-free G-code (toolpath), ESPRIT leverages a digital twin simulation platform to model the finished part, tools, and CNC machine. AI-based algorithms eliminate manual data input and provide machine operators with greater assurance of what will happen on the shop floor. The result – simplified programming, increased tool life and utilisation, reduced cycle times and improved productivity. 

“D.P. Technology is an innovator with a strong focus on building smarter, data-driven manufacturing solutions. When combined with our production software portfolio, it cements our market-leading position in CAM, particularly around CNC manufacturing processes, and accelerates the development of our Smart Manufacturing portfolio,” says Hexagon President and CEO Ola Rollén. 

“Additionally, the D.P. Technology team has built excellent working relationships with leading machine tool providers and other manufacturing technology experts, which will prove invaluable in our open and interoperable manufacturing ecosystem approach.” 

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Tool And Die Shop Reduces Production Time To Machine Die Form Plates

Tool and Die Shop Reduces Production Time to Machine Die Form Plates

Here’s a look at how a tool and die maker reduced time to machine die form plates from 11.3 to 4 hours.

Burr OAK Tool Inc. produces dies used to manufacture two types of fins for window air conditioners: evaporator fins on the side of the air conditioner inside the window, which transfer heat from the inside air to the cold refrigerant flowing through the evaporator coil; and compressor fins located on the side of the air conditioner outside the window, which move heat from the now hot refrigerant to the outside air. Burr OAK Tool dies progressively stretch and reform the fins through a series of metal forming operations that extrude and reduce the thickness of the fins. The very complex geometry of the dies must be controlled within +5/-0 ten thousandths of an inch in order to meet fin tolerances.

Simulating machining operation with ESPRIT.

Simulating machining operation with ESPRIT.

Until recently, the company finished and semi-finished form plates on a grinding machine because its machining centres could not hold the required tolerances. It took 9.2 hours to produce form plates with a waffle form and 11.3 hours for sine wave form plates. Burr OAK Tool recently purchased a Mazak VTC-800 4-axis vertical machining centre with the goal of reducing machining time for these dies. The new machine is much more difficult to program than any of the machines used previously by the company. Adding to the challenge is the fact that parts are designed in 2D because they have so many holes and other features that it would take prohibitively long to design them as solid models.

David Schwartz, CNC Programming Manager for Burr OAK Tool.

David Schwartz, CNC Programming Manager for Burr OAK Tool.

Back in the mid-1990s, Burr OAK Tool used a CAM software package that did not accurately simulate machining operations. The company mounted many of the parts it machined on workholding devices called tombstones, and it was not unusual for a spindle driven by a new program to crash into a tombstone, which often required expensive repairs.

“We switched to ESPRIT CAM software from DP Technology because it accurately simulates the machine, spindles, tools and workpiece in real-time operation,” said David Schwartz, CNC Programming Manager for Burr OAK Tool.

After the purchase of a new 4-axis machining centre, Burr OAK Tool programmers attended ESPRIT training for the Mazak VTC-800 and the company purchased a Solid Mill Free-Form 3-Axis add-on for one of its ESPRIT licenses.

Completed fin die.

Completed fin die.

With ESPRIT, Burr OAK Tool programmers detect crashes and gouges during the programming process before downloading the program to the machine. ESPRIT’s simulation capabilities have eliminated crashes while substantially improving the productivity of the company’s programming team. Over the time it has used ESPRIT, the company has reduced its programming team from 13 to six people through innovation while substantially increasing its programming volume and capabilities.

The first step in programming the form plate is importing the 2D models that contain the part definition. Only a few clicks are needed to extrude the 2D models to create the 3D surface geometry. The next step is to define features such as holes and bosses which map into machining operations. Burr OAK Tool programmers currently perform this step manually although in the future they plan to investigate the automatic feature recognition capability of ESPRIT. Burr OAK Tool programmers use ESPRIT’s mill between curves feature to define the surface to be milled.

Fins produced on Burr OAK dies.

Fins produced on Burr OAK dies.

Most machining operations are performed with the spindle tilted at 30 deg with respect to the workpiece because ball nose end mills perform better when cutting on their sides than on their points. The milling operation is typically run at a 250 inches per minute feed rate and produces an 8 ra finish, which matches or even exceeds the finish produced by grinding. This new procedure works so well, they were able to eliminate a separate roughing operation on the vertical machine centres and go directly to a tilted head semi-finishing operation on the VTC-800 that leaves only 0.002 in for the finish. A small ball nose end mill removes the last 0.002 in.

ESPRIT simulation automatically identifies any moves where the spindle or tool passes too close to the part or machine. The programmers closely compare the simulation results to make sure it matches the design spec. As a final step, programmers use the ESPRIT post-processor for the Mazak VTC-800 to produce code that runs perfectly every time. Thanks to its accurate simulation and code, Burr OAK Tool programmers feel confident enough to run lights-out even with high precision, single run, custom parts.

“We have reduced machining time to 3 hours on the waffle dies and 4 hours on the sine wave dies, substantially reducing the cost of producing these critical tools,” Schwartz concluded. “Programming the form milling operations on the dies takes only about 2 hours, which is remarkably low considering the complexity of the part. We are confident that once we fully incorporate the capabilities of ESPRIT into our programming methodology, we will be able to reduce fin die programming time to only 1 hour.”

 

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