Specialist mould and die maker automates EDM, with help from Sescoi CAM software, to remove a production ‘bottleneck’ and increase capacity by at least 30%
In 2003, German mould and die maker, Kegelmann Technik drew up a specification for an automated system, which would guarantee smooth workflow without production ‘bottlenecks’, paper, missing data and double entries. Starting with its EDM section the company envisaged four steps. 1 – Extraction of the electrode shape from the CAD data.
2 – Electrode toolpath programming.
3 – Machining and inspection.
4 – Feeding the erosion machine with the correct information and electrodes to cut the part.
The company selected the Winstat Framework software from Zwicker Systems in 2004.
The system uses transponder chip technology to achieve automation, recording shop floor activity and eliminating the risk of error.
It manages the delivery of technical information and electrodes to the correct stations on the shop floor.
The existing close cooperation between Sescoi and Zwicker Systems was a major advantage in integrating the systems, said Sescoi to manufacturingtalk.
Sescoi was ready to help, when Kegelmann was having difficulty finding suitable software to extract electrode data from its CATIA CAD system.
* Functionality and integration – at Kegelmann Technik, Stephen Kegelmann said: ‘We have collaborated with Sescoi on other projects so we had already had experience of its willingness to develop solutions to suit our particular needs.’ It took a few months to complete the development on WorkNC’s electrode module to achieve the functionality and integration required by Kegelmann’s engineers.
Kegelmann continued: ‘We did not want compromise, but wanted to work in a fully automated way with few menus and little data input.
This included direct recovery of all data from the CAD system, and the ability to generate roughing and finishing electrodes, erosion gaps and other attributes with one click, as well as automated data transmission to Winstat Framework and the corresponding workstations’.
He added: ‘Intensive work by the Sescoi project manager and the other team members resulted in solutions for every task.
This was a highly innovative achievement for both parties’.
* Paperless automation – since 2006 all the electrode manufacture at Kegelmann Technik has become paperless and automated.
Documentation is created with one click of the mouse and is displayed in HTML format on shop floor terminals.
Kegelmann said: ‘The operator no longer needs to physically transfer data from the drawing to the machine.
This is now fully automatic.
We have virtually eliminated the risk of using incorrect data and, as a result, our engineers are more relaxed and can concentrate on their task.
Our erosion machines were previously a bottleneck in the production chain.
This has now completely changed as automation has led to a capacity increase of at least 30%’.
FoKegelmann Technik has now begun its next project and expects aluminum and steel milling to be automated before the end of 2008.
The company has already invested in a robot and two machining centres and is expanding the use of Winstat Framework and Sescoi WorkNC.
* About Kegelmann Technik – Kegelmann Technik has developed into a specialist supplier of prototype components and low volume aluminum and plastics parts.
Starting in 1989 as a pioneer in rapid prototyping, using stereolithography and laser sintering, the company expanded into tool making to increase its range of services and now employs 60 people.
It attributes a large part of its success to process automation, and by integrating Zwicker Systems’ Winstat Framework and WorkNC, Sescoi’s automatic CAM/CAD system.
The company did not want to be a run of the mill tool maker.
It intended to establish a modern and efficient business right from the start.
The company adopted standardized processes.
The methods, such as origin point clamping and workpiece palletisation were installed in 1998 and have since become common practice.
Ten years ago, Stephan Kegelmann had envisaged an automated tool making process, which the company is intent on achieving.