Integrated CAD and NC Software Gives Moldmaker a Competitive Advantage
The right software allows moldmaker to tap into new revenue opportunities by making different kinds of products as efficiently as possible, while maintaining the highest quality standards.
L&Z Tool and Engineering, Inc. is an ISO-9001-208 registered producer of plastic molds, dies and tools. With each and every one of its products fabricated at its NJ facility, the company prides itself on its use of only the finest-made American materials, which conform to the strictest engineering standards. After five decades of excellence in craftsman and precision, as well as dedication to customer satisfaction, the company has grown to become an industry leader.
“We are a proud, third-generation American business founded by my father and his partner in 1952,” says L&Z owner Thomas LaMarca, Jr. “My father came to this country from Sicily at the age of eight. He started working at the young age of 10, doing all types of menial jobs in his pursuit of a career as a toolmaker.
At one point in time he even had a short stint helping no other than Mr. Thomas Edison himself while working at one of his companies. Eventually, my father joined a major aluminum company that made their own tools. He quickly rose to the level of a top toolmaker, but his dream was to run his own business, and that’s how L&Z came to be. Shortly after L&Z was formed, he and his partner parted ways, and with a combination of creativity and skill, he was able to singlehandedly turn this company into the successful entity it is today.”
Company founder Thomas LaMarca Sr. understood the importance of progress and evolution, and knew that in order to thrive, his company would have to branch out into other types of tools. He also recognized that German toolmaking companies were quite proficient in the process of duplication.
“My father was one of the first to buy a 3-D duplicating machine, which allowed him to rapidly build and trace a model in full detail, and easily scale it up or down. This really came in handy, since the company was doing quite a bit of automotive work, which required an extensive amount of body matching. He was also the first in the state to purchase an EDM,” LaMarca Jr. adds.
As the business continued to grow, LaMarca Jr. joined his father in managing the business. L&Z continued to innovate, replacing manual duplicating with a hydrocopy machine in the late 60s, which automated milling and cutting processes. They later upgraded further to an electronic impulse stylus, which enhanced production workflows significantly.
Then, computers came into play. “CNC machines opened up a whole new world for us,” he continues. “We began leveraging software to generate cutter paths. But it still had its shortfalls. For example, we could create shapes, but were unable to marry them together.”
When a new project came along that required L&Z to create some very complex parts, the LaMarcas saw it as an opportunity to evaluate a new generation of NC software that could help them tackle such projects.
“We had all the vendors come in for demos and each one could practically do miracles with their software,” recalls LaMarca Jr. “But when we asked them to run our job they all fell flat.” That is until they met the Cimatron team. “They were able to run the job and create the complex curves and shapes that we needed to deliver.”
L&Z was one of the earliest users of Cimatron NC in the U.S. Selected originally to provide the continuous 3-D cutting capabilities the company was lacking, Cimatron NC delivered advanced functionality that has helped the company continue on its quest to make strategic use of technology to improve its operations.
Since these early days, L&Z has continued to expand the use of Cimatron software throughout its entire operations from design to manufacturing. “We are always looking for new ways to do things faster and better,” explains LaMarca Jr. “Cimatron has enabled us to produce more per hour, so we can compete more effectively with companies overseas. And when it comes to the really difficult stuff, no other software can do what Cimatron can.”
With Cimatron, the company has the ability to actively participate the customer in the entire development process—from concept through design and into production. The L&Z team is often relied upon to help a customer come up with a new concept, perfect it, and ensure it is a viable, moldable product already in the early stages of product design.
And, according to Lance LaMarca, the third generation to run the company, “Where Cimatron really shines is in the area of tool design. We now have a completely seamless transition from CAD to CAM, with absolutely no translation required. We’ve also been benefiting from Cimatron’s advanced machining capabilities, including its cutting movement efficiency and its precision in calculating remaining stock.
“Moving into five-axis technology has really elevated our capabilities to a new level,” adds LaMarca. “When you can attack the tool from five different directions you get beautiful blends without spending time on multiple setups. We have top of the line five-axis machines that do the work, but Cimatron is really the brain behind it.”
“In our business, companies that stay in place simply cannot survive,” adds LaMarca Jr. “Things just change too rapidly and you need to keep pace. For example, at one time automotive products accounted for as much as 85 percent of our business. As that industry changed, so did demand for our services.
Additionally, as the requirements of our own customers have changed and evolved, we need to be able to help them respond to the demands of their respective markets by re-styling products to stay on top of new trends. Cimatron gives us the ability, and more importantly, the agility to tap into new revenue opportunities by making different kinds of products as efficiently as possible, while maintaining the highest quality standards.”
In one recent case, LaMarca recalls, a customer called L&Z with a complex job that required the use of five-axis technology. “They initially sent to another shop, but that shop could not get it done with their five-axis technology. Using Cimatron, we were able to complete the project and even exceed the customer’s expectations. Following that experience, we realized how powerful of a competitive advantage Cimatron 5-Axis gives us over other shops, and we decided to buy another five-axis machine. Cimatron helped us set this machine up in no time, so we could be productive right away.
“We’ve used countless technologies as we’ve continued to innovate and diversify over the years,” LaMarca Jr. concludes. “Cimatron has consistently proven its value and passed the test, time and time again.”
A lesson on shear induced melt variations ends some confusion regarding balancing runner systems for multi-cavity molds.
Integrated CAD/CAM software that combines CAD, CAM, electrode design and CMM programming capabilities in one system can save you time and effort in the following five ways:
This machine tool diagnostic device allows the detection of errors noticeable only while machine tools are in motion.