Cutting-Edge Machining

Anderdon Machine Tool & Manufacturing, Inc., uses Edgecam automation to increase efficiency while reducing human error and generating reliable programs.

Numbers don’t lie, which is how manufacturers know when they’ve achieved the kind of greater overall efficiency and competitiveness to which every manufacturer aspires.

Such is the case for Anderdon Tool & Manufacturing, Inc., of Oldcastle, Ontario, a 30-year-old producer of metal-stamping dies — including progressive, transfer and line dies — as well as prototype parts and gauges. By offering a host of in-house design and engineering services, Anderdon is a one-stop die shop that enhances communication between project managers, designers, engineers, tool makers and customers.

Dedicated to the production of reliable, high-quality tooling and striving to meet or exceed its deliveries, Anderdon retains loyal, repeat customers and attracts new business by maintaining a reputation for excellence.

“Fostering an innovative environment allows Anderdon Tool the flexibility to quickly and efficiently take on new products, as well as to embrace R&D projects, new machining techniques, and new work in the areas of prototype parts, reverse engineering, and experimental parts,” says CNC Manager Mark Klem of Anderdon Machine Tool.

To increase efficiency, Anderdon needed a computer-aided-manufacturing (CAM) solution capable of generating accurate NC code for numerous components ranging from simple to complex. Though it had previously used a different CAM package, the company’s former system would not allow Anderdon to integrate 2D and 3D machining without the need for multiple software packages to achieve the desired speed and accuracy.

 “The automation allows programmers of different experience levels to produce the most efficient and consistent result for machining.”

Mark Klem, CNC manager
In 2009, the company made the switch to Edgecam, by Vero Software, and purchased the solution from experienced distributor Ambo Technologies Canada, Ltd.

Dedicated to exceeding the expectations of its partners and accelerating Canadian innovation in manufacturing, Ambo offers consulting services and solutions designed to meet the specific needs of customers.

In need of greater cost effectiveness and efficiency, Anderdon combined forces with Ambo to implement Edgecam 2D and 3D automation strategies. Anderdon’s goal was to increase competitiveness by reducing programming time on repetitive tasks, enforcing company standards, and reducing error.

Ambo began the restructuring of Anderdon’s programming process by implementing 2D feature-based automation strategies customized specifically for Anderdon’s needs. Among those strategies was the color-coding of features to be machined — such as holes, pockets, and bores — at the design stage to indicate the dimensional tolerance and surface finish required.

The custom Edgecam strategies were built to capture this color code and machine the features accordingly, based on the machining practices perfected over the years by Anderdon.

Built to be both simple and user friendly, the custom automation allows the programmer to select from a menu of options — such as which side of a plate is to be machined (top or bottom), which types of drills are to be used, and whether to tap, ream, or mill selected features. Once the options are set, the programmer “plans” the job and “executes” the plan. All features are then completely machined in accordance with the specifications.
 
The drilling strategies used offer built-in intelligence that help to decide if, for example, a hole feature needs to be spot drilled, based upon the hole’s size. That same intelligence takes into account the machine tool and associated post processors used for any specific job when determining vital job details, such as whether a preferred tool selection is made, and if the correct tooling is available in the tool library.

If spot drilling was not performed so there is no chamfer at the hole edge, the chamfering strategy will recognize this and chamfer the hole later in the process. This level of attention to detail ensures that all features are being machined completely while keeping tool changes to a minimum.

After implementation of the custom 2D automation strategies, a typical two-hour programming session at Anderdon has been reduced to 7-10 minutes, Klem says.

“The automation allows programmers of different experience levels to produce the most efficient and consistent result for machining,” he says. “We have been able to tailor our machining practices to stay on the cusp of tooling and machining technologies with very minor alterations to the automation strategies. We are now manufacturing with more controlled results.”

To automate 3D machining strategies for Anderdon’s more complex 3D components, Ambo used Edgecam’s JavaScript-based macro language to apply machining instructions and generate toolpath based on the solid model supplied from engineering.

Some of the challenging 3D components machined by Anderdon require multiple roughing and rest-roughing processes using tools of various sizes for reaching tighter areas on the part, as well as multiple surfacing processes to machine the part completely.

The custom-built Edgecam automation script is extremely flexible, and allows the user to select only one machining process, or as many as necessary. This allows the user to progress step-by-step through the machining process or, if possible, completely machine the part with one operation.

“Everything worked out well with the 3D Automation because Ambo was able to write the script to exactly what I wanted,” Klem says. “This will be a definite game changer for Anderdon, with 2D and now 3D automation. Once again, Ambo is helping us be more cost effective and competitive. What a great partnership!”

As with the establishment of 2D automation strategies, ease of use was an important consideration when developing Anderdon’s 3D automation macro. Using the custom 3D macro, the programmer launches one dialog box with multiple pages, sets the process or processes that are required, sets the tooling for each individual process, chooses whether to use containment boundaries to localize the area in which the toolpath should be created, and then hits the “OK” button. Geometry selection, if required based on the settings made, is performed before creating any toolpath. After this, the tools are called up and the correct toolpath is generated without any further user input.

Following Ambo’s creation of custom 3D Edgecam automation strategies, a typical five-hour programming job was reduced to 15-20 minutes, Klem says. The automation strategies have also helped the company to substantially reduce machining errors and eliminate inefficient cutter paths, tool selection, and tool use. The combination of these benefits has resulted in reduced cycle times and tooling and carbide consumption, as well as increased output volumes.  

As all machining strategies are proven, a “hidden benefit” of the automation is that Anderdon employees with lower skill levels are now able to operate the company’s machinery at 100 percent output.

“As a direct result of having these custom strategies and automation macros developed by Ambo, programming time for our vast array of components was drastically reduced, and we were able to virtually eliminate human error in the programming process while assuring

consistent and predictable programs and NC code for our machines,” Klem says. “This has also allowed us to process schedule changes quickly and still maintain our lights-out machining goals on a daily basis.”


About

Name: Anderdon Machine Tool & Manufacturing, Inc.

Information: Producer of metal-stamping dies — including progressive, transfer and line dies — as well as prototype parts and gauges.

Web: www.anderdontool.com

 

Benefits Achieved

  • Increased competitiveness by implementing 2D and 3D automation strategies
  • Reduced programming time for repetitive tasks
  • Implementation and enforcement of company standards has resulted in reduced error

Comments

“The automation allows programmers of different experience levels to produce the most efficient and consistent result for machining.”

Mark Klem, CNC manager

 

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