NewsDesk Software: CAM Software Helps Machine Shops Stay Competitive
Bill Gibbs is the founder and president of Gibbs and Associates (Moorpark, CA), developer of GibbsCAM software. He is also president of Cimatron North America (Novi, MI) and vice chairman of Cimatron Ltd. (Givat Shmuel, Israel).
Manufacturing Engineering: What are some key technical trends affecting CAM users today?
Bill Gibbs: CAM customers need to reduce costs to be competitive. They need to cut parts faster, spend less time in setup, less time programming, and less time correcting mistakes. They need their tools to last longer. They even need lower electrical bills. Technologies that address all of these are maturing and as a result, acceptance of them in CAM software by customers is increasing. High-efficiency roughing VoluMill, in the latest GibbsCAM release, cuts parts faster, extends tool life, and actually does lower energy usage. GibbsCAM continues to advance its feature-based automatic programming capabilities to reduce programming time, including the improved ability to import and use CAD software’s feature data to automate and speed up part programming.
Multi-task machines (MTM) continue to be a very popular type of CNC machine with increasing diversity in configurations. The opportunity to reduce setups and labor costs is significant. GibbsCAM continues to develop new kinematic support for the latest designs. GibbsCAM’s Machine Simulation will catch mistakes before they get to a machine, as well as prove-out setups. Gibbs is looking ahead to support emerging technologies like metal 3D printing, ensuring that GibbsCAM can handle our customers’ future machine needs as part of an integrated manufacturing strategy.
ME: How are medical manufacturers employing CAM systems? Are there specific issues and techniques for machining medical parts?
Gibbs: Medical is a booming market segment in many areas of the world. Whenever we look at a specific industry segment of CNC manufacturing, there are many similarities with and also many differences from other industries. Many CNC programming and machining issues are the same for all industries. Some areas specific to the medical industry include the fact that medical parts are small in general, and include materials that are compatible with the human body; stainless steel, titanium, plastics, etc. Surface finish and tolerance requirements can be high. Part volume can range from moderately high, to custom one-off parts for a single individual. High complexity, high value, low-volume parts are a natural for metal 3D Printing, which is making in-roads in personalized parts, including dental. On the high-volume side, Swiss-style machines are popular for bone screws, and other long, thin turned parts.
ME: With the difficulty of finding good machinists, supporting manufacturing education is key; tell us about the new low-cost Student Edition available online from Gibbs.
Gibbs: Lack of qualified machinists and CNC programmers is a major problem today, as is a lack of mold-and-die designers. GibbsCAM is currently used in a variety of educational facilities around the world. Some, like Stanford and Harvard, use GibbsCAM in their engineering degree programs. Other educational customers provide trade-focused training for people getting into manufacturing as a career. In both cases it is helpful for students to be able to use the software outside the classroom for practice and for projects. We make student versions of GibbsCAM available to students at our online store, for a very reasonable price.
ME: Last year, Gibbs began working with DMG / Mori Seiki on a standardization effort to improve the flow of data between CAM systems and machine tools. What’s the status of that development?
Gibbs: Mori Seiki has developed Mori-APT support for basic turning, as well as for three-to-five-axis milling. Gibbs has developed matching capabilities in GibbsCAM’s Mori-APT option. Mori has not yet released their product. I understand they are signing up beta sites for a beta program beginning mid-year 2013. Development of Multi-Task Machine support will follow afterwards.
ME: How does the current manufacturing business climate look for 2013?
Gibbs: In spite of all the various uncertainties, manufacturing seems to be chugging along nicely. We encounter continued examples of re-shoring to North America. On the Cimatron side, there are some very busy mold-and-die manufacturing companies. We have every expectation of continued growth in CNC manufacturing. ME
CAMCAD Technologies Inc. (Winter Springs, FL), a value-added reseller of Surfcam software, announced March 25 its partnership with Earthrise Space Inc. (ESI; Orlando, FL), the parent organization of the Omega Envoy team competing for the Google Lunar X Prize.
CAMCAD Technologies will provide a postprocessor for ESI’s CNC mill, Surfcam training and additional support to help streamline the company’s manufacturing processes, which will allow ESI to significantly reduce costs and produce quality parts. ESI has been granted a full license of the five-axis Surfcam software.
“We look forward to working with Team Omega Envoy, particularly the student interns,” CAMCAD Technologies CEO Alison Wildblood said in a statement. “There are so few opportunities for students to get real-world experience learning CNC programming and machining in Central Florida.”
Earthrise Space, through its Omega Envoy project, is a team of scientists and students pursuing the Lunar X Prize. A total of $30 million in prize money is available to the first privately funded team to safely land a robot on the surface of the Moon by the end of 2015. The robot must travel 500 meters over the surface of the Moon and send back video footage, images and data back to the Earth’s surface.
CNC developer Fanuc FA America (Hoffman Estates, IL) on March 22 introduced FASOPC for easy retrieval of CNC machine production data. The FASOPC is an OPC server designed specifically for getting machine production data out of Fanuc CNCs and off the shop floor.
OPC has been an industry standard for years, and many industrial software packages have built-in support for OPC specifically for data retrieval. These systems can now be connected to a Fanuc CNC with ease. FASOPC server is designed exclusively for communicating with FOCAS-enabled Fanuc CNCs to efficiently read and write data.
The configuration utility’s intuitive user interface utilizes wizards specifically designed for the Fanuc CNC to guide users through the processes of setting up controls. Once a control type is identified, then data only relevant to that control type is presented to the user. There is no need for additional knowledge of Fanuc CNC capabilities to use FASOPC. FASOPC supports OPC DA specification 3.0, 2.0, and 1.0, giving it the flexibility to serve data to most OPC clients on the market today.
Siemens PLM Software (Plano, TX) on April 2 announced the release of its updated Syncrofit software for designing and manufacturing complex assemblies and large aerostructures. The updated Syncrofit version 13 introduces new fastener layout and part-sizing functionality that helps airframe engineers reduce the time to generate fastener patterns, perform initial part sizing, validate designs and adapt to subsequent design changes by as much as 40%.
Syncrofit 13 eliminates the need for manufacturing engineers to manually verify that the hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of fasteners in an airframe structure are properly consumed according to plan and that the assembly meets design requirements. The updated software also expands integration with Siemens’ Teamcenter product data management software.
Syncrofit 13 also strengthens Siemens’ product portfolio for airframe development by integrating its production-proven Airframe Manufacturing Environment (AME) module into Siemens NX CAD/CAM/CAE software solutions.
ERP developer Epicor Software Corp. (Dublin, CA) Feb. 28 introduced a new version of its Epicor Vision business management software that enables automotive replacement parts distributors to provide pricing, parts maintenance and other “central services” to independent jobbers who use the Epicor Eagle store-management solution. Epicor Vision software also allows distributors to operate their own stores without the need of a separate business management solution.
Simulation developer Ansys Inc. (Canonsburg, PA) on April 3 announced that it has acquired Even-Evolutionary Engineering AG (Zurich, Switzerland), a developer of composite analysis and optimization technology relying on cloud computing. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Even-Evolutionary Engineering will become a wholly owned subsidiary, Ansys Switzerland. The 12-employee company has collaborated with Ansys since 2008, supplying its composite technologies through a product called Ansys Composite PrepPost, which is tightly integrated with Ansys Mechanical in Ansys Workbench and with Ansys Mechanical APDL. Ansys Composite PrepPost is a pre- and postprocessing solution for layered composite materials integrated into the Ansys software portfolio. The solution empowers users to efficiently model the most complex composite structures and to fully understand the potential failure of product models.
Edited by Senior Editor Patrick Waurzyniak: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was first published in the May 2013 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine.