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Five-Axis CAM Slices Into Food Processing

Jim Lorincz
By Jim Lorincz Contributing Editor, SME Media

Urschel Laboratories has come a long way since its founder William E. Urschel introduced the gooseberry snipper to Michigan canneries in 1910. Today, the company’s innovative machines are used by virtually every food processing manufacturer worldwide to slice, dice, trim, grate, and process foods that are stored in pantries and refrigerator shelves. For the record, Urschel’s gooseberry snipper machine handled the removal of a stem and thick bud appendage from the berry.

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Open Mind’s hyperMILL five-axis programming is streamlining manufacturing of Urschel Laboratories’ food processing machines used throughout the world.

Urschel’s manufacturing floor takes up more than 70% of its 385,000 ft2 (117,348 m2) facility in Chesterton, IN, where more than 400 employees produce a comprehensive line of food processing machines that helps feed the US and the world. One of the continuing challenges at Urschel is exploring new ways to streamline and improve the existing manufacturing process, according to Bill Monroe, senior manufacturing engineer, who researched the potential of five-axis machining and five-axis CAM programming.

“I felt that we could make parts faster and with more accuracy, including new parts with complex geometry that we couldn’t build with our existing equipment and CAM software,” said Monroe. First he wanted to experiment with five-axis machining, though he had absolutely no idea of what could be created using this method. But he did know that the possibilities would materialize once he got his hands on a fast and accurate five-axis machining center and the CAM software to control it.

Urschel purchased a high-speed DMG Mori DMU 50 milling machine and began the search for the right CAM solution. All 3D design work at Urschel is done using Solidworks, and Urschel wanted a CAM software solution that was directly integrated into Solidworks. Open Mind’s hyperMILL CAM satisfied this requirement and has been a SolidWorks certified Gold CAM product for more than 10 years, providing integration of CAD and CAM with all hyperMILL strategies enabled.

With SolidWorks integration available, Open Mind was able to support Monroe, who was anxious to get up to speed fast with training, ongoing support, and help with five-axis machining strategies to meet current and future needs.

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Urschel chose Open Mind’s hyperMILL CAM software for its sophisticated five-axis programming.

The result is that Urschel is transitioning its prototyping, tooling, and production processes, and upgrading to high-speed five-axis milling. Urschel uses five-axis machining to create complex geometries quickly and precisely in one setup without having to reposition the part for each milling operation, saving time and money by eliminating realignment issues. It is able to produce parts that can’t be produced on its three and four-axis machines.

“The Open Mind technical support team was great to work with,” said Monroe. “The training experience was great. Instead of going out to classes, the Open Mind staff came here and then we would go out to our lab and work together with our parts on our machines. Our team could not have been happier.”

Monroe also needed an ongoing, responsive working relationship with a CAM company that would be there with expertise and advice to guide and work with him to fulfill Urschel’s needs over the long term. While making this buying decision, Monroe checked off all these factors and decided on Open Mind’s hyperMILL CAM solution. In a few months, based on the cost and time-saving benefits of five-axis machining, Monroe was able to go beyond what he originally thought was possible. “We bought a second machine along with another seat of hyperMILL and are now loading it up with production jobs,” said Monroe.

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Urschel wanted five-axis programming for its high-speed milling machine with a CAM software solution that was directly integrated into SolidWorks for all its 3D design work.

“Working with Open Mind’s hyperMILL team has been a positive experience all the way through,” said Monroe. “We chose hyperMILL because we were already familiar with its interface, and that was critical. Being able to have a package that was big enough and comprehensive enough to grow with us over the long term was also extremely important. We didn’t want a pared down package just because it worked in SolidWorks. We needed and have found a solution that is comprehensive and that we can grow with. Having really good support is key,” said Monroe.

With help from the Open Mind team and hyperMILL CAM software, and by adopting the latest manufacturing techniques and machines, Urschel Laboratories is now positioned to continue its growth.
“We wouldn’t have been able to move to production as quickly as we did without the Open Mind staff teaching us along the way. Also, they didn’t try to oversell us, which was a huge deal. Our relationship with Open Mind will continue to grow for a very long time,” concluded Monroe.

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