Performance Bike Builder Goes for Speed

Aug. 5, 2010
JETCAM nesting and CAM software streamlines cutting for Trek Bicycle

Trek Bicycles designs and builds a range of bikes for different users, including mountain bikes, triathlon models, urban and trail bikes, and others.

The bike builder streamlined program nesting for its three Gerber DCS 2500 CNC knife cutters, choosing JETCAM Expert because it offered a combination of automation and desired interaction that allowed it to maximize material yield.

Wisconsin-based Trek Bicycle Corp. has a global market for its high-performance bikes, and concern about its environmental impact. The company emphasizes its carbon footprint as much as it does its manufacturing quality, even in its recent effort to streamline nesting for its three Gerber DCS 2500 CNC knife cutters. Recently, it adopted the JETCAM Expert CAD/CAM software platform, which allows users to program any combination of CNC machines with a single CAM system

Ben Fisher, product manufacturing engineer at Trek Bicycle, explained: “Prior to purchasing JETCAM, static nests were being generated manually. These static nests could take several hours to create and were often inefficient depending on the creator and the part shape. We were looking for an opportunity to decrease our nesting time, maximize our material yield, and possibly to generate dynamic nests for daily production. Dynamic nesting could not have been done effectively with our current method of manual nest building.”

Trek’s technicians evaluated the market and narrowed their choices to two systems. However, JETCAM delivered a combination of automation and desired interaction that Trek had identified in its list of particular goals.

Furthermore, Trek had created a special format to set the cutting speed based on the number of layers to be cut per pattern, and no system other than JETCAM was found to handle this. Claude Drehfal, a manufacturing engineer who also worked on the implementation noted: “Based on sample nests of common parts we were able to justify the cost with less than one year payback. Also, JETCAM distributor NestOne allowed us to fully evaluate the software to ensure it met our needs.”

The system was installed in December 2009. Five engineers were trained, with the full installation taking just one week. JETCAM Expert, High Performance Nesting and Remote Control Processing (RCP) were installed to act as a “black box” automatically nesting orders. JETCAM Orders Controller (JOC) was used to manage kits to be nested. Users could batch process nests to determine optimal kit quantities, and also provided the ability to import files from DXF or CATIA generated XML files. JETCAMs advanced security module also provided user level access rights to functions.

Immediately after going live a number of benefits came to light. Programming time was virtually eliminated, as orders were queued in JOC and then passed to RCP for automatic nest processing. Single Component Automatic nesting (SCAP) is also used to process CAD files, creating geometry and applying profiling automatically.

Composite material is expensive to buy and sometimes difficult to source. “After going through and replacing our manual static nests with JETCAM built nests, we have seen a 5% increase of material yield,” which Ben cited as delivering a quick 'hard dollar' savings.

In the six months since installation, Trek Bicycle has already received one update that provided new functionality, and Fisher expresses confidence in the service he has received from NestOne; “The support we received from NestOne before the sale made us much more comfortable purchasing the system. They have a great support team there and we receive quick and helpful responses.”

Trek Bicycle is on target to see a complete return on investment within nine months of the installation. Several programmers are using a single system, accessed through remote desktop and automated through RCP. They also plan to move to complete dynamic nest generation along with laser kitting at the machines.

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