thumbnail group

Connect With Us:

ME Channels / Controls & Software

News Desk Software: Toolgrinding Software Simulations Help Speed Medical Device Manufacturing


Edward Sinkora

Edward Sinkora is a senior product manager, United Grinding Technologies Inc. (Miamisburg, OH), a developer of tool-grinding systems and related software.

Manufacturing Engineering: What are some recent technical advances in tool-grinding software?


Ed Sinkora: Probably the most important advancement has been the ability to create increasingly complex cutting tools, to the point where individual parameters can vary from cutting edge to cutting edge, and within a given cutting edge. For example, the latest software allows the user to vary the helix individually per tooth and even along the same cutting edge, or vary the rake from tooth to tooth, and so forth. One market survey showed that by 2009, 80-90% of the new tools being developed had such variable parameterization.

Why so many? One reason is that the major vendors are making it relatively easy to program complex tools. One approach is to provide simple wizards that walk you through setup and pull feeds and speeds from a database. Our software, Helitronic Tool Studio, goes beyond this to provide an elegant and interactive interface that immediately shows each change you make in 3-D. For example, let’s say you’ve created a tool with different helix angles on each tooth. A very simple slider allows you to specify the point on the tool where the indexing should be uniform, normally at the halfway point of the grinding length. The software will make all the necessary adjustments and show you the result immediately. The same applies to any other geometric attribute you want to adjust.


ME: What industries can best take advantage of advanced grinding today?


Sinkora: Anyone who needs to machine hard materials, like Inconel or cobalt-chromium, should consider grinding. And if he needs to make complex forms, this often requires advanced five-axis grinding, especially if the accuracy requirements or other factors demand doing the job in one setup. Key examples of this are certain orthopedic implants, like femoral knees, and some of the turbine components that go into the ‘hot’ portion of the engine.


ME: What key grinding and software tools can help medical device builders?


Sinkora: Orthopedic implants are typically designed and modeled in a CAD package and Siemens PLM’s NX appears to be the most popular choice. So the most useful grinding package would use the NX CAM package to create the machining program and also provide an easy operator interface for the machine. That’s exactly what we’ve done with our NXis Ortho solution. The key factor for us was switching to the FANUC control some years back, since it runs industry-standard G-code. That also means we can build postprocessors for different CAD-CAM packages as the medical device market dictates.


ME: How important is the 3-D simulation offered in your new Helitronic Tool Studio v1.9 software?


Sinkora: Three-dimensional simulation is critical to speeding the design of new products, as the engineer can immediately see what is and isn’t possible given the reality of grinding wheels and machine moves. He can also see weak points, like an overly aggressive rake, and make adjustments on the fly. The 3-D simulation also gives the machine operator a great deal of confidence in running the machine and it’s a great learning tool. Plus full 3-D simulation—to include the machine, wheel and workholding—is necessary for eliminating the risk of collision. Finally, 3-D simulation enables us to automatically optimize the feed rate based on the volume of material being removed at each moment. We even offer a plug-in that automatically calculates the center of mass of the tool based on the 3-D model and then helps you tweak the tool balance. That’s important given the individual parameterization discussed earlier, as tools are generally now asymmetrical. And of course users want to employ high-speed machining, where tool balance is critical.


ME: What other medical software do you offer, such as the NXis Ortho package for 3-D simulation of your grinding machines?


Sinkora: We offer Helitronic Tool Studio for cutting tools and NXis Ortho for orthopedic implants. The NXis solution can also be applied to other non-cutting tool components, such as turbine components.


ME: How does the current economic environment appear for manufacturing?


Sinkora: It’s extremely good for precision grinding. Our customers are very busy and need to increase capacity. At the same time, it’s difficult to find enough qualified people to run machines. So manufacturers turn to the machine tool suppliers with the best applications team and the ability to deliver flexible, automated solutions. That’s us! ME


Edited by Patrick Waurzyniak; for more info, contact him at (313) 425-3256 or send an e-mail to


PLM Market Showing
Strong Growth


The PLM market grew at healthy levels in 2011 as manufacturers continued to make investments in PLM technology, according to market researcher CIMdata Inc. (Ann Arbor, MI).

At CIMdata’s recent North American PLM Market & Industry Forum, CIMdata offered its perspective on current and future trends in PLM. "While the PLM market came back very strong based on the global market numbers, we believe that there is a ‘New Normal’ in the business environment," says Peter Bilello, CIMdata President. "One way to look at the market is that companies are using PLM strategies to do more with less. They are not necessarily hiring people, but they need PLM strategies and enabling technologies to get their work done in a more accurate, repeatable, and efficient manner."

During 2011, manufacturing companies invested in PLM technology and services, which experienced 15.2% growth in 2011 to $29.98 billion, notes Stan Przybylinski, CIMdata’s director of research. "At last year’s forum there were some questions about our optimistic forecasts for calendar year 2011, but our estimates show outstanding growth," he says. "Growth was strong throughout the year, particularly in licenses, which bodes well for services growth and continued market expansion in the next few years. CIMdata strongly believes that the expansion in investment supports our long-time claim that PLM is a strategic imperative that will help companies enhance product and process development and improve their competitive position as global
markets rebound."

For more information or to obtain the full report, see


New Releases


Simulation software supplier CGTech Corp. (Irvine, CA), developer of Vericut Composite Programming (VCP) and Vericut Composite Simulation (VCS), has added a new product to its suite of software named Vericut Composite Paths for Engineering (VCPe). VCPe gives a composite part designer, mechanical engineer, or process engineer access to the same software tools NC programmers use to create NC program paths that are subsequently used in the workshop to lay up a composite part.

"By using VCPe, the part designer or engineer can easily create and experiment with various Automated Fiber Placement (AFP) path options and evaluate the effects AFP manufacturing has on a composite part’s design intent," notes Bill Hasenjaeger, CGTech product manager. "Experiments to determine producibility can be performed long before the design has been sent to manufacturing, and even before it is known what type of AFP equipment will be used." The VCPe reads CATIA V5, NX, STEP, or ACIS surface models, as well as FiberSim, CATIA V5, NX, or other external ply geometry and information. VCPe then adds material to fill the plies according to user-specified manufacturing standards and requirements. Layup paths are linked together to form specific layup sequences.

By producing actual AFP tape courses that could be used to program AFP fabrication equipment in the workshop, users can measure and evaluate the effects of AFP path trajectory, material steering, surface curvature, course convergence and other process constraints as they would be applied in manufacturing. The software also provides produceability analysis of the fiber angle based on the curvature of the part, and overlap and gaps needed for structural analysis. Tape course geometry can be written to various CAD formats for further evaluation by the user’s existing analysis methods and tools.


Web Update


Workholding developer Kurt Manufacturing Co. (Minneapolis) has launched its enhanced Web site that now includes the ability of users to download 2-D and 3-D models of the company’s workholding products.

The updated site allows downloading Kurt files directly from product pages. Products appear in a 3-D PDF viewer format and can be rotated 360º on the X, Y, and Z axes and evaluated for different workholding applications. The file can be downloaded in any one of 20 different formats, including popular formats such as Autodesk, AutoCAD, Solidworks and ACIS. The site features easy-to-navigate tools and include links to Kurt product videos on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Google. For more info, visit


This article was first published in the May 2012 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine.  Click here for PDF.   


Published Date : 5/1/2012

Editor's Picks

Advanced Manufacturing Media - SME
U.S. Office  |  One SME Drive, Dearborn, MI 48128  |  Customer Care: 800.733.4763  |  313.425.3000
Canadian Office  |  7100 Woodbine Avenue, Suite 312, Markham, ON, L3R 5J2  888.322.7333
Tooling U  |   3615 Superior Avenue East, Building 44, 6th Floor, Cleveland, OH 44114  |  866.706.8665