Danny Close, Engineering Director, says “We needed to get parts right first time as, with low volumes of, for example, five components, and expensive materials there was no room for error. Also, the parts we supply are critical to the safety of the aircraft, so we cannot afford to make mistakes.”
The company has two seats of SolidWorks and SolidCAM, in Birmingham, supplied by SolidCAM UK, and additional licences in its Alcester and Leicester factories.
To minimise setting times and be able to economically manufacture small batches of parts, Bromford Industries has a flexible manufacturing system (FMS) with a 5-axis MAZAK Variaxis 630 machining centre.
SolidCAM supports the enhanced functionalities of the MAZAK machines, thus giving top efficiency and flexibility in production.
A benefit of running MAZAK machines with SolidCAM is full machine verification where all the complex machining can be inspected before it runs on the machine, including removal of stock material by turning and milling tools. The combined solution “SolidWorks+SolidCAM” enables Bromford industries to design the fixturing for this machine and all the other CNC equipment it has directly from the component model.
Carlton Chamarette, Senior Manufacturing Engineer, says, “The solid simulation and collision detection is very powerful in SolidCAM, giving an accurate view of what will happen on the machine. For the 5-axis operations we perform it gives us absolute confidence in the results, warning us if tools are too short or if there is a rapid move into the part. Being able to prove out programmes reliably offline significantly reduces the time required to produce the first component, making our machines far more productive.”
Programming in SolidCAM is easy and the quality of its postprocessors produces reliable CNC code. John Rowland, CNC operator, adds: “SolidCAM is the fastest and easiest CAM system I have ever used. The interface ensures that you have not missed anything, and the simulation allows you to compare the finished part with the model, ensuring that the component has been completely machined. The postprocessor is also highly configurable, producing canned cycles and 100% reliable G codes.”
The company machines a wide range of materials including aluminium, titanium, inconel, stainless steel and cast iron forgings.
Accurate time calculations within SolidCAM help the company to estimate the cost of manufacture, and the tool library helps to consolidate the range of tools used. Carlton Chamarette says, “Simulation and collision detection consider the complete tool and its holder and we can include feeds and speeds optimised for the different materials we cut. The cycle times we get from SolidCAM have proved to be very reliable and we use them to help us calculate the cost of manufacture.”
Danny Close concludes, “We plan to expand the use of SolidCAM at all our sites and carry out further in house training to increase our expertise. The software has significantly increased our productivity.”
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