For parts it supplies to Team Winston, Alan Johnson Cylinder Heads reduces design and manufacturing leadtime with Esprit software.
THE SPEED AT WHICH Alan Johnson Cylinder Heads designs and programs new parts plays a major role in NHRA Team Winston's racing success. The company not only manufactures cylinder heads and other performance parts for Team Winston but also for automobile, motorcycle, and marine racing. With an Esprit programming system from DP Technology, the shop simplifies its processes, reduces errors, and quickly brings new designs to market.
"The geometry of a high-performance cylinder head can be extremely complex," says Alan Johnson, owner and crew chief for Team Winston, "but Esprit gives me all the tools I need to define it to a T. This software also simplifies the process of defining tools and cutting parameters in advance. As long as I am working with machines and material for which I have technology pages defined, I can typically go from CAD model to finished CNC program in an hour or two."
Besides reducing Alan Johnson Cylinder's design and manufacturing leadtime, Esprit substantially reduces errors. It does so mainly by generating the CNC program directly from the CAD model. To further reduce errors, the shop also simulates the manufacturing process in Esprit prior to producing actual parts. It finds and fixes problems in the software, so real-part production is usually trouble free.
A new design process starts with a sketch of the part geometry produced in Esprit. This sketch then goes to the CNC programmers, who finish up the details.
"When I have finished a design," says Todd Bastian, primary CNC programmer at Alan Johnson Cylinder, "I may ask Johnson to check it as I rotate, pan, and zoom the model." Once a model is okayed, Bastian specifies the tools to use and cutting feeds and speeds. In most cases, this involves opening the appropriate Esprit technology page that defines the standard tools and the most common machining parameters for that particular machine. While Alan Johnson Cylinder uses standard tools whenever possible, custom tools are available as a menu selection.
"Since we have been using Esprit," comments Johnson, "its developers have made important improvements that have helped us further reduce the time it takes to produce new products. One major example is the way this CAM system automatically generates toolpaths for pocketing. Once the part geometry and tool are defined, the program takes over and creates the toolpaths and the code needed to run them."