hyperMILL is On-Point for Subcontractor
Founded in 1995, Point CNC has provided a high quality and flexible CNC machining service to its customers in the medical, aerospace, surveillance and automotive sectors since it opened its doors for business. The evolution of the company down the years has seen the Kent manufacturer invest in high-end machine tools from YMT and CAM software from OPEN MIND Technologies.
The Sevenoaks subcontractor produces components and sub-assemblies for high precision surveillance and ANPR camera systems in use by police forces, security agencies and rescue services as well as high-technology parts for the motorsport and specialist road-car sector. With the ever-increasing complexity of components, Point CNC has invested in hyperMILL® from OPEN MIND as it is recognised as an industry-leading CAM solution for 5-axis machining and the production of challenging components. The ISO:9001:2015 subcontract manufacturer has been growing at a rapid rate in recent years, consolidating several facilities by bringing them into one large factory, a site that facilitates all of the company’s 20 CNC machine tools. “We are implementing more automation to maximise our output and we are also undertaking more automotive, audio and MoD work at present,” says Joseph Goldsmith of Point CNC.
Referring to the implementation of CAM software from OPEN MIND Technologies, Mr Goldsmith states: “When I first came here, we were using different software and I had come from a hyperMILL® background. The software we had was nowhere near as good as hyperMILL®, so I put my case forward to the directors of the business, highlighting that at the rate the company was growing and the turnaround requirements from our customers, we needed to be moving to hyperMILL®.”
With a well-made case and business leadership that is always striving to enhance its capabilities, service and performance, the South-East company invested in OPEN MIND Technologies hyperMILL® CAM system. As Mr Goldsmith continues: “The facility to use things such as the tool library in hyperMILL® and to teach all of the apprentices all the cutting speeds and feeds in a simplified format to build their confidence, has been invaluable. hyperMILL® helps to give the apprentices a good grounding in everyday processes. Additionally, skilled engineers do not have to watch the apprentices all the time, giving apprentices the responsibility and confidence to evolve.”
Alluding to some of the savings that hyperMILL® has generated, Mr Goldsmith says: “The other advantages with the tool library within hyperMILL® is that it will calculate and optimise all of your speeds and feeds. Once the information has been inputted, hyperMILL® can calculate the speeds and feeds for you and this determines how hard you can be hitting the workpieces. It really has speeded up our programming. By reprogramming existing components in hyperMILL®, we have shaved a lot of time from our programming and production processes.”
“Essentially, we can input the tool data from the cutting tool manufacturer into hyperMILL® and it will crunch the numbers and push the machining strategy to its limits. Every time I program hyperMILL® I generally think we won’t get away with running at such extremely high speeds and feeds, but we do. It works without fail. On one of the first jobs where I really pushed hyperMILL®, it was probably running 20% faster than I would have liked to have done the job. It was running so fast, there was steam coming off the chips and evaporating out of the machine. It really is helping these machines achieve what they are made to do.”
Referring to how hyperMILL® helps to conserve tool life, Mr Goldsmith says: “There are a lot of different factors in play here. For example, the benefits depend upon the type of tooling and what materials you are cutting, but hyperMILL® goes a long way to helping with things like that. It creates greater tool engagement, which improves material removal rates, cycle times and subsequently tool life.”
“Since coming to this company and helping migrate over to hyperMILL®, cycle times have improved by at least 20% and programming times have improved even further. The speed that I can program jobs has been sped up significantly, as the previous software didn’t have all the facilities and tools I needed to do the job. This is especially the case with 3D work. The previous CAM system just wasn’t capable of doing what we needed.”
From a collision avoidance and security perspective, Mr Goldsmith states: “One of the beautiful things about hyperMILL® is that when you are putting all of your models together, you can build up a library of all your machine tools, your fixtures, vices, your chucks and your cutting tools. You can put all of this information into the system and it will give you a 100% accurate picture of what is going to happen before you push the button. This allows you to avoid collisions and highlight things you might have missed.”
With three seats of hyperMILL® and a significant investment in 3 to 5-axis machining as well as several CNC turning centres, Mr Goldsmith alludes to the capabilities of hyperMILL® with regards to the company’s turning activities, saying: “hyperMILL® has had a major impact on turning operations. Basically, it is now allowing other people to undertake programming tasks. Before, all the programming for turning was done on the CNC consoles on the shop floor. This is very time consuming and when the machines are being programmed, they are not running or making any money. Now that we have hyperMILL® we can program all of the turning in the office on hyperMILL® whilst the machine is running. Once the parts are programmed in the office, we can just pop the programme into the machine, run it through to make sure it works and we’re good to go. This has drastically reduced non-cutting times in the CNC turning department by virtually eliminating on-machine programming.”
Asked if the software is as important as hardware when investing, Mr Goldsmith concludes: “I believe that software is an equally important investment as the hardware and hyperMILL® demonstrates this with its significant savings that are being created both in the programming office and on the shop floor.”