Article From: 3/18/2008 Production Machining, Lori Beckman ,
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This medical machine shop has a total of four high-speed milling machines, two Mori Seiki machines for metalcutting and two other machines for graphite electrodes. All machines can run at 20,000 rpm, according to Ed Smith, chief of manufacturing engineering.
Automating the CAD/CAM process allows for smooth transition from design to toolpath, which translates to reduced setup time on the shop floor.
When a shop designs, develops, manufactures and markets a range of high-accuracy, high-volume components, it must depend on high-speed machining capabilities incorporated in its machines’ CAD/CAM software.
Oscor Inc. (Palm Harbor, Florida) is an example of a shop that heavily relies on its CAD/CAM software for rapid production of its minute medical components.
“We do a lot of R&D and constantly come up with new products,” says Ed Smith, chief of manufacturing engineering. “We often must be able to go from prototype to production in a matter of days. One of the ways we are able to do this is to produce all our tooling in-house. This gives us control over the development and helps us achieve very fast turnaround on every tool.” He adds, “On our higher-volume parts, we produce in the range of 100,000 parts per month. Typical tolerances are 0.0002 inch.”
Oscor operates high-speed CNC vertical mills and a Roku-Roku turning center with a robotic loading system. “We have a total of four high-speed milling machines, two Mori Seiki machines for metalcutting and two other machines for graphite electrodes,” Mr. Smith explains. “All can run at 20,000 rpm. The CNC mills use very small cutters, down to a 0.005-inch diameter ball milling cutter for the electrodes.” The company also runs six Star Swiss-turn machines.
To keep up with its more demanding machine tools, Oscor needed to get up to speed quickly with the CAD/CAM software that could support these high-speed machining capabilities. A combination of the right tools and software is key for the company. This led management to recently incorporate Delcam CAD/CAM software.
“We now use PowerShape CAD and PowerMill CAM software for our mills. I’ve always liked Delcam because it is not a limited product; it has a lot of flexibility for the user built into it,” he says.
With PowerShape CAD software, Oscor can analyze its mold models for duplicated or missing surfaces, interactively inspect draft angles and see hard-to-mold areas for the tiny leads. “Ninety percent of the parts we have to make can be created with solid modeling, but for the other 10 percent, we found that the surface modeling flexibility of PowerShape has been very helpful,” Mr. Smith comments.
“PowerMill lets us write our own software code to automate our work,” Mr. Smith adds. “We first create a Visual Basic program and link it back into PowerMill. This ability has allowed us to automate the robotic handling of electrodes and tell the machine how many and what kind of electrodes we want it to produce. Little things like that add up to a lot of time saved.”
Another benefit is PowerMill’s range of high-speed machining techniques that help to ensure rapid delivery of high-quality mold tools and components for Oscor. According to Mr. Smith, that ability is a big reason customers come to his company. “We can do these micro-molds faster than most shops could ever hope to,” he says. “Our specialty is the quick prototype-to-production work in the range of 30,000 parts per month, and that is where the Delcam software really helps us to be responsive to our customers.”
Many job shops take about 6 to 8 weeks to produce production molds. However, since Oscor has implemented Delcam software, the company can produce these molds in about a week.
Because Oscor’s goal is quick turnaround, high accuracy and high volume while producing small medical parts, the shop must rely not only on its machines, but the software that operates hand-in-hand with them. Delcam is helping the company accomplish its goals in the most efficient way