Customized Software Speeds Design of Complicated Tool
When Woodland, WA-based injection mold manufacturing facility AIMMco needed a software program to create an extremely complicated tool, they looked no further than manufacturer Delcam (local Pasadena, CA office) to provide a CAD/CAM solution to best fit the company’s needs.
AIMMco’s services include: quick-turn tooling, prototype and production plastic injection molds, over-mold and insert tooling, die cast tooling and prototype parts.
A Seamless Transfer
When asked about the end product, the LG-417 Lasergrip for the GLOCK 17 and 19 series pistols made by Crimson Trace Corporation—a leading maker of grip-based, laser aiming devices located in nearby Wilsonville, OR—Glen Hendrickson partner and designer at AIMMco notes, “It would be impossible to build this without PowerSHAPE and PowerMILL because it is wrapped around on both ends, which makes it very difficult to tool. This part is complicated because of the action in the tool that is required to pull all of the undercuts. Delcam makes it easy for me to visualize, by using PowerSHAPE visualization tools like draft shading and minimum radius shading, transparent shading and dynamic sectioning.”
AIMMco exports directly from PowerSHAPE to PowerMILL. “We built it in an approximately six- to seven-week leadtime because of the ease of importing geometry from other CAD systems, seamless communication between CAD and CAM, and automation of PowerMILL and PowerSHAPE using VB—Visual Basic, a software we use to write automation scripts that can do repetitive tasks for design and programming.”
AIMMco is manufacturing its growing number of products even faster and better by writing its own software to customize Delcam’s products to integrate with its own unique workflow. The company has two seats of PowerMILL that it uses to program four vertical machining centers and four seats of PowerSHAPE. “We’ve been using Delcam for about eight years,” says manufacturing engineer Larry Sarkinen. “Our focus is the quick turn. We’re trying to fill that gap with bridge and production tooling. We’ve developed methods for tooling fast with PowerSHAPE and PowerMILL. We’ve built some software around them; we’ve automated a lot of our commands … to do our designing and our programming.
“Customers require more complex parts as the engineers get better at drawing ergonomic shapes,” Sarkinen continues. “We’ve had phenomenal feedback and support from Delcam. They regularly have educational webinars to show new features in their software and how to utilize them. Delcam stays up with technology by updating their software, as well as putting in customer requests and speed enhancements like adding the parasolid kernel to PowerSHAPE and making it so PowerMILL will use multi-processors.”
In addition, Delcam provides an API (application programming interface) so AIMMco can write applications with Visual Basic to speed up the design and programming process. “For example, we created an application for PowerSHAPE that will create tapped or counter bored holes automatically and a similar application for PowerMILL that will program them with only a few mouse clicks,” continues Sarkinen.
“The automation we’re able to do—going directly from our modeling software, PowerSHAPE, to our programming software, PowerMILL—transfers seamlessly and shortens the overall build-time of the mold, which is always the goal of the customer.”