Cimatron software helped Regal Prototypes move to 5-axis machining to produce marine propellers.
Because of the challenges presented by the automotive industry, Regal Prototypes Inc., a tooling supplier that specializes in sheet metal stampings, production tool and die and assembly/welding, wanted to diversify its business, and move into the production of propellers for racing boats. However, the new venture required that Regal Prototypes incorporate and master 5-axis production to machine the complex propeller shapes accurately while meeting short delivery times.
After evaluating several software packages, Regal Prototypes selected CimatronE NC 5-Axis software from Cimatron Technologies Inc. (www.cimatrontech.com) to support its transition to 5-axis work. The software got Regal Prototypes' NC experts up-to-speed on 5-axis production, and enabled them to program and build prototypes within three months.
"To get a true, concentric propeller blade, we needed to move to 5-axis, which requires just a single setup as compared with multiple setups using 3-axis machining," says Steve Hamrick, tooling manager at Regal Prototypes' sheet metal facility. He says with single-setup machines, the challenge is to make sure that the setup is correct, and that origins are there and safety clings are at the right spot.
"I never had a problem seeing 3D, so moving around the propeller was not an issue for me, but working from the one single (model) origin was something I had to learn," says Hamrick. "It took me about two weeks to get used to it, and after I got the process down and understood the way the post and software worked, I was ready to move forward."
Moving forward meant Hamrick had to learn a new style of cutting, and could not use his usual style, but he says he first had to learn what the software was going to do, then he had to convert based on what the software required. "CimatronE NC 5-Axis offered a gamut of new options, enabling me to ultimately choose the best style for my work. The software facilitated a manageable learning process that helped me meet my timeline," he says.
Another aspect of the 5-axis transition was getting the post processor to work properly from the start, says Hamrick. While developing 5-axis post processors can be difficult, the post processor worked the first time because of the Cimatron software, he said.
Regal Prototypes further benefited from simulation capabilities for collision avoidance that is part of the Cimatron software. "We run the program through the Cimatron Verifier and can see if the holder or spindle will hit. Working with tight tolerances, there are times when the holder looks like it is going to hit, but using the Verifier confirms it is not. The option double checks everything before I send a program out," says Hamrick. Also, the shop's 5-axis machine holds 32 tools, all of which are programmed into the software's library.