CAD/CAM Helps Shop Move Up and On

KA Tooling now manufactures more than 100 high precision molds a year.

KA Tooling Director Alex Hill says VISI’s Compass Technology automates the manufacturing  of bolster sets. A bolster plate is a large metal block on which the bottom portion of a die is clamped;
“It’s rules-based machining, by setting parameters for different features within a bolster plate. Thanks to Compass, we’re now using just one machining center, rather than two, to produce bolsters. 
“The bolster assembly has all the features attached to each individual plate, and instead of each plate being programmed separately, we just hit one button and the machining file is ready for the whole bolster set.”
Depending on the complexity of the tool, mold designer Director Kien Chung will run a VISI plastic flow front simulation to analyzse how the part will mold, highlight the best gate location, and check for weld lines, air traps, and if there are any gassing issues. “We use Flow-Lite where we need to produce more demanding technical tools, as it gives us the information we need to assess a component’s moldability.
“Otherwise, I go straight to VISI’s analysis features to check aspects such as draft and wall sections prior to tool design. I don’t want to design the tool and then find the wall section’s too thick or too thin, or there are no draft angles.” 
Using VISI has cut average tool design time by half from two days to less than a day. And means KA now undertakes around 90 percent of designs in-house.
“We generate 2D drawings to send to customers, and VISI also exports 3D models in a number of native CAD formats if the customer requires those. When everything’s been approved, the job is issued to the three operators who keep our nine machines running.” 
And he says VISI 3D machining is now an essential part of the manufacturing process. The software creates intelligent toolpaths on even the most complex 3D parts. Dedicated high speed milling techniques and built-in smoothing algorithms create highly efficient NC code, reducing cycle times, improving productivity, and continuously producing their high quality mold tools. 
“We have a greater variety of 3D machining strategies now. Using these in conjunction with the powerful rest area machining options reduces both fresh air machining and programming time.”
Hill says integration between the VISI modules also aids efficiency. “We know there can’t be any data input error as there’s just the one system handling all aspects of analysis, design and machining, including electrode production. After installing VISI we realized we could benefit from using VISI Electrode, so invested in a Mitsubishi EX spark eroder with tool changer. It’s invaluable for creating and managing electrodes and their holders for manufacturing the detailed and hard to machine features on our molds. And the comprehensive holder design, simulation and collision checking ensures our electrodes will operate correctly first time.”

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