Shop Solutions: Turbo-Charged Design
An important part of a German subcontractor’s success is its in-house tool production. Kleiner Stanztechnik GmbH (Pforzheim, Germany) produces more than 60 highly complex progressive forming tools a year. Since switching to VISI for 3D Tool Design from Vero Software (Forest Lake, MN; Gloucestershire, UK), Kleiner now has an integrated process chain based on 3D data, covering everything from quotations through to design and NC programming.
Combining extensive experience of high-performance stamping tools and precision stampings with new technologies and developments, Kleiner manufactures parts for the automotive, plastics, electrical, medical technology and electronics industries. Kleiner operates Bruderer and Haulick & Ross presses running up to 1200 strokes per minute and can process strips with a width of up to 320 mm and a thickness of 0.06–4 mm on 38 hydraulic presses with a pressing force up to 250 t.
Kleiner’s product portfolio extends from micro stampings to populated lead frames which replace the commonly used printed circuit boards. An example of their expertise in complex precision-stamped parts are snap domes with spots of gold for buttons and switches. The small amount of gold used by the spot galvanization delivers an immediate cost saving.
In the field of renewable energy and electric mobility, Kleiner offers solutions for high current contacting of hybrid and electric vehicles’ photovoltaic systems. A recent example of this is plug coupling for charging electric cars, in which Kleiner designed and manufactured electrical contact elements in the signal and high-voltage areas. This included replacing the plug connectors, originally designed as turned copper components, with stamped parts.
As well as the electrical and insulation design, the challenge was to optimize the geometry of the parts in such a way that they could be produced easily with a progressive tool, which Kleiner also designs and manufactures. “We design new projects exclusively in 3D using VISI, which is tailor-made for our type of work,” said Ego Kugele, head of design.
About three years ago, an increasing workload prompted Kleiner to improve on its existing system for faster tool design. That, coupled with the fact that the company needed more advanced systems to handle circuit boards and functions for the strip layout, meant that design switched exclusively to 3D through VISI.
“We originally trialled a fully parametric system, but the system constraints were not very suitable for efficient tool design. We subsequently trialled VISI and were immediately comfortable with the design process, not just because it’s extremely easy to use, but because the special modules for stamping tool design were already well established in the market and the software gave an impression of being well-engineered,” said Kugele.
The company now has VISI Modeling and the cutting and stamping tool module VISI Progress, for processing, strip layout and tool construction, installed on 14 workstations in the design department, along with one other workstation used for quotations. There are three further VISI Machining installations in the production department for programming the milling machines.
Once the tool design is complete, manufacturing begins with all programs created using VISI Machining (with the addition of VISI PEPS Wire for two and four-axes planned for later this year) for the AgieCharmilles and Hurco CNC machines. A third VISI Machining workstation is used to drive a high-speed Röders machine dedicated to hard milling and the manufacture of copper electrodes. The CAM operator prepares all NC programs offline so the machine can be used to produce multiple jobs at the same time. And since the same CAD model is used in VISI for design and NC programming, integration and interoperability of the data are always guaranteed.
Two VISI workstations include the automatic feature recognition module, Compass Technology for processing and automatically applying approved company-standard toolpath data to common geometric features such as multidepth holes and open and closed pockets. The introduction of Compass Technology has dramatically reduced the programming time by more than 60% for certain 2D and 2.5D milling tasks on complex bolster sets. ME
For more information from Vero Software, go to www.verosoftware.com, or phone 205-556-9199.
This article was first published in the October 2013 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine. Click here for PDF.