C.A. Tooling cuts cycle times by 25% with WorkNC

Reduced machining times

Compared with its old programming system, WorkNC CAD/CAM software has reduced machining times by 25% at C.A. Tooling based in Lynchburg, Virginia, U.S.A. The company specializes in foundry tooling and general machining, has a turnover of $5 million, and is growing rapidly.
 
Darrel Gallier, Tooling Shop Manager says, “We were having mishaps with tool holder collisions, which prompted us to look for some new software. We evaluated a lot of systems and WorkNC came out on top for the way in which it reduces the number of rapid moves, and keeps the tool in the job for much more of the time.”
 

“WorkNC is a vital part of our operation and has made a significant contribution to cost reduction and productivity”

Darrel Gallier, Tooling Shop Manager

Quality benefits
The company has two seats of WorkNC and nine CNC machine tools which have 3 and 4-axis machining capability. To encourage its employees to take pride in their work, C.A. Tooling allocates complete projects to each of its machinists. They are then responsible for programming as well as machining the whole tool. Not only does this make their work more interesting and rewarding, but it also has a positive impact on quality.
 
The company runs Unigraphics® for tool design and sends the CAD data to WorkNC for programming. WorkNC converts the files and the five machinists share the two WorkNC workstations to prepare their programs. An ergonomic interface and automated machining cycles make this a simple process. Darrel Gallier adds, “This way of working gives us much better control over the production and quality of our tooling projects.”
 

Reliable collision avoidance

Tools can take 8-10 weeks to manufacture and may comprise many core boxes, patterns, and parts. The company’s largest machine has a capacity of 40” x 84” and it frequently fills this. It cuts deep cavities with shrink fit tooling, which allows it to utilize longer cutter assemblies while minimizing run-out. Darrel Gallier says, “A block of 4140 tool steel can cost around $50,000 and we typically machine away 60-70%, so the reliability we get with WorkNC is crucial for our success.” Tool and holder collision checking within the software make it possible for the user to safely machine deep pockets. WorkNC allows for the definition of a safety margin around the tool and its holder, and includes collision avoidance technology, just machining the areas it can reach with the selected cutter. The software also suggests the tool length required to finish the job. C.A. Tooling then uses the verification within WorkNC to make absolutely certain that the program is error free, allowing it to run its machines overnight and at weekends without interruption.
 

Unmanned machining

To enable it to operate seven days a week, C.A. Tooling prepares its WorkNC programs and sets its machines during normal working hours. Roughing operations to get to the net shape can be relatively quick, but finishing operations take a considerable amount of time, 60- 80 hours is not unusual. Darrel Gallier comments, “We frequently machine down to a 1mm fillet, so WorkNC’s smooth cutting trajectories help us to avoid shock loading the tools, and keeps the stresses within them as low as possible. Not only does this increase tool life and reduce wear, but it enables us to run unmanned for long periods.” With such lengthy cycle times, C.A. Tooling also uses laser probes. These periodically check for tool wear and automatically select a replacement when necessary. By combining probing with the reliability of the WorkNC toolpaths, the company is able to operate out of normal working hours with absolute confidence, optimizing the utilization of its machinery and minimizing costs.
 
Easy to learn and use WorkNC’s ease of use is important to the machine operators, enabling them to program efficiently with the minimum of effort. Automatic cycles for roughing and finishing greatly simplify programming and make sure that the cutter stays in the job as much as possible, technology which has reduced C.A. Tooling’s machining times by 25%. Darrel Gallier says, “We have a continuous learning program, where the operators increase their expertise by exploring the software and using the tutorials. Support from the WorkNC team comes over the Internet and we have found it to be very good indeed. These self teaching methods save us a considerable amount of time, as well as travel costs.”
 

Supporting expansion

C.A. Tooling’s existing 12,000 sq ft factory is already full, so it is about to increase its size by a further 8,000 sq ft. The company is already using WorkPLAN Solutions, the ERP management system to support its business growth, and investment in new machinery will follow. This will include 5-axis machining centers, so the company’s reliance on WorkNC will increase. Darrel Gallier concludes, “WorkNC is a vital part of our operation and has made a significant contribution to cost reduction and productivity. Expanding its technology to meet the demands of our new facility will ensure our success for the long term.”
 

About the Company

Name: CA Tooling

Web: www.catooling.com

 

Benefits Achieved

  • Reduced machining time by 25%
  • Run machines overnight due to confidence in error free machining
  • Able to program efficiently with the minimum of effort
 

Comments

“WorkNC is a vital part of our operation and has made a significant contribution to cost reduction and productivity”
 
Darrel Gallier, Tooling Shop Manager

 

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