CAM Software Aids in Quick Turnaround Tooling
A need to be even quicker in delivering its quick turnaround tooling led Wallingford, CT-based J&L Plastic Molding to look at a number of CAM packages to see what would be the best fit with the company. J&L primarily serves the medical market—but also a diverse number of industries including electronics, connectors, aerospace—with rapid turnaround, prototype services to multi-cavity, production tooling and molding capabilities.
The search for the best CAM program to suit J&L’s needs led the company to CAM supplier Geometric Technologies’ (Scottsdale, AZ) CAMWorks software. “It was really the need to be quicker that led us to CAMWorks 2008,” recalls J&L owner Jason Rossicone. “We were looking to fine-tune our operations, beat our competitors and get more work. We wanted to be able to produce tools the quickest way possible, so we looked at the whole picture from the standpoint of machining centers to what technology and equipment we needed in-house, and to what point we needed to get personnel trained. CAMWorks is just one piece of that whole puzzle that works very well. It’s how we function. Even our newer toolmakers—who have worked with all sorts of programs—love what we have put together.”
Geometric Technologies’ Hushedar Mehta, Sales Head for the Americas, points out that CAMWorks produces efficient machining programs directly from solid models. “The seamless integration between CAMWorks and SolidWorks provides interoperability, associativity, and data integration that allow manufacturers to engineer, design and build better products faster and more accurately,” Mehta states. “CAMWorks is a feature- and knowledge-based CAM system that runs within both SolidWorks and Geometric’s CAMWorks Solids, an integrated solid modeler. This CAD/CAM software combination can significantly speed time-to-market.” Rossicone adds that J&L uses CAMWorks in conjunction with SolidWorks 2009.
CAMWorks features include Automatic Feature Recognition (AFR), which programs complex parts in minutes; Interactive Feature Recognition (IFR), which defines features that cannot be automatically; knowledge-based machining to associate tooling, operation strategies and machining parameters; and associative machining, which identifies and recalculates toolpaths based on changes to the part model.
Rossicone says that CAMWorks has been easy for his employees to learn. “There is not a great deal of training that has to take place,” he says, “and our guys have picked up on it real quick. The great thing is, we’re not doing part design, we are doing tool design. So once we get the solid model from our customer, it usually converts very well to SolidWorks, and then we design the tooling components from that solid since CAMWorks is in SolidWorks as an add-on. When you open SolidWorks, there are CAMWorks tabs in there for it, so you are not trying to translate from one program to another. You can work on the solid model right in SolidWorks.”
J&L Molding is very satisfied with the way CAMWorks and Solidworks work together. “You buy both products, get a model from your customer in SolidWorks, draw your components in SolidWorks, then begin machining using CAMWorks right in SolidWorks, so if you make any changes to that, it automatically updates to your toolpaths. That saves a lot of time,” explains Rossicone.
“With us it is all about upfront setup and how quickly we can cut,” Rossicone concludes. “Since we are doing one-off stuff instead of production work, we need to be cutting as quickly as possible while being able to make changes. We are able to turn jobs around very quickly. CAMWorks fits our business model very, very well.”
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