Shandong Weifang Foton Mould Co. Ltd. is China’s largest manufacturer of molds for automotive body parts such as doors, roofs and side panels. As well as mold manufacture, the company has mold design capability and reverse engineering and digitizing facilities to produce parts from the clay mock up. Its customers include the largest vehicle manufacturers in China such as Dongfeng Automobile, Tianqi Motor, Yantai Automobile, Beijing Jeep and Shanghai GM. The introduction of WorkNC CADCAM software in 2007 was a major step forward for the company and has helped it to cement relationships with its customers through higher quality and faster delivery.
Problems with previous CAM system
Foton Mould Co. selected the WorkNC CADCAM system after experiencing significant quality problems with its previous CAM system. Mr. Liu of the company explains, “With our old CAM system we were experiencing ripples and stripes on the finish machined surface. Many of our panels have very large radii as part of the styling and the old software was not accurate enough to reproduce these properly. We tried numerous solutions, and put in a lot of manpower and effort, but nothing worked, resulting in us having to hand finish tools to achieve a satisfactory result. This was time consuming, expensive and inaccurate.”
CAM accuracy and mold quality
Mr Liu heard about WorkNC’s success in China and invited local WorkNC engineers to come and evaluate the difficulties Foton Mould Co. was experiencing. He says, “We used WorkNC’s machining strategies for roughing and finishing and the result was remarkable. Using the same parameters as we had before, the software solved our problems easily, producing smooth curves without any ripples or stripes. Additionally, it produced a much brighter and higher quality surface finish straight off the machine.”
WorkNC achieves this through very high accuracy interpolation of 3D forms, generating copious amounts of NC data and keeping well within the surface tolerance. The software also considers the volume of material to be removed at every stage of cutting, resulting in a constant tool load, which minimizes any problems due to deflection of the machine or its cutters. Fine detail can easily be generated through picking out operations which blend perfectly with surrounding surfaces, virtually eliminating polishing operations on the finished cavity. Powerful handling of CAD files and digitized data ensures the finished part conforms to the original design, resulting in improved quality for the body panels produced in the company’s molds.
Speed and efficiency
The demands of automotive manufacturers have become increasingly sophisticated, which led Foton Mould Co. to carefully examine and review its production methods. Added to this, raw material costs have gone up considerably so, to achieve an overall cost reduction, the pressure on it to improve productivity was immense. Making full and appropriate use of its WorkNC CAM software has provided some very significant advantages. Program preparation times are much faster, thanks to the automated strategies and high speed calculations in the software, while WorkNC’s optimized toolpaths result in shorter cutting times, longer tool life and reduced labor costs. Overall, it makes much more efficient use of both human and machinery resources.
Mr Liu explains, “Before we had WorkNC an ordinary small mold would take around a week to complete. With WorkNC, we can do the same task in 2-3 days. For us, WorkNC’s automated CNC toolpaths and high speed calculations are its most important features and have produced a 30% reduction in our overall mold manufacturing times. We have run many tests and evaluations to optimize how we use the software and we have absolute confidence in the stability, repeatability and accuracy of our CNC programs and the molds we produce from them. Now we use WorkNC for nearly every mold we manufacture.”
Oct 12, 2011
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