CAM Streamlines Manufacturing Operations
Northwood Industries uses Mastercam to consolidate operations so that more can be performed at the machine during a single setup.
Mill, Lathe, Dynamic Motion
Heavy Industry, Job Shop
Northwood Industries in Perrysburg, Ohio, provides precision-machined component parts, mechanical assemblies, and engineering design services to manufacturing companies throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. More than half of its work comes from the coatings and solar energy industries.
One of their largest and oldest customers—a manufacturer of fluid coatings equipment for the application of paints, coatings, and sprayed materials—came to Northwood Industries with an order for 50 trigger parts for one of its commercial paint spray gun handles. Just two months before, Northwood Industries had helped this customer re-design that trigger part (for better fit and handling for smaller hands) and had produced three prototypes. Now, the customer was eager to get 50 spray guns with the newly-designed trigger handle out into the field as soon as possible.
“When we initially programmed the trigger part,” said Kevin Carter, Turning Operations Leader at Northwood Industries, “it was the first of its kind for us, and it took me six hours to machine just that one part. But by the time the order for 50 parts came in, we had upgraded our software to the latest version of Mastercam, figured out how to better utilize the software, and reduced the job from two operations to one.
“We started with the Model Prep feature, but it was the Dynamic Motion technology that really helped us achieve shorter lead time and faster production time. Also, Mastercam’s OptiRough feature made it easier to polish the part right there, eliminating the finishing step. We got the job done and out the door in no time.”
Dynamic Milling uses proprietary algorithms programmed into the software to automatically detect changes in the material as the tool cuts through. The tool remains engaged with the material, minimizing air cuts and allowing the machines to be pushed to full capacity. Depending on the speeds, machining time can be cut between 25 to 75 percent.
According to Northwood Industries Owner and President, Kurt Miller, the company now seizes every opportunity when it can consolidate manufacturing operations so that more can be performed at the machine during a single setup. The reduced set-up time and improvement in manufacturing productivity have been remarkable.
Miller identified two features of Mastercam – the Dynamic toolpaths and Verify (Mastercam’s simulation function) – that have given Northwood Industries valuable competitive advantage when it comes to meeting the quick turnaround needs of its customers.
“Mastercam allows us to prep a model without really checking anything. If the model’s right, put a toolpath to it and start cutting as soon as you’re done programming,” Miller said. “As long as it looks good in Verify, it’s going to look good on the machine.”
“The idea is to get the spindle running,” he added. Mastercam is a tool that helps us get our machine tools operational. Our customers aren’t buying programs. We don’t sell programs. We sell parts. With the help of Mastercam 2019, we’ve reduced cycle time by 5 to 10 percent.”
But, he cautioned, it’s not only about a fast turnaround. According to Miller, the quality of Northwood Industries’ machined products has also improved, he said, based on the toolpath selections that are made and the way that the parts are now machined.”
Recently, Northwood Industries committed to a redesigned In-Process Inspection Plan which places greater emphasis on inspection at the bench level for each operation, and is less dependent on the inspection room.
“During machining cycles, we’re making sure that the parts are being inspected throughout the process,” said Carter. Inspection points are customized based on the quantity being produced, the value of the part, or the complexity. “For example, if we’re making one part, the inspection count is one. If we’re making 100, maybe it’s every 50. If it’s more complex, we’re checking every five or 10.”
“Conducting a quality inspection during the machining cycles places the responsibility of machining accurate parts where it should be, with the machinist, and allows us to address any quality issues early on,” said Miller. As a result, the number of quality issues identified in the inspection room during the final inspection has dropped significantly.”
Improve manufacturing productivity in order to make precision-machined component parts for customers requiring a quick turnaround.
Mastercam strategies for efficient CAD/CAM operations.
- Improves manufacturing productivity by reducing set-up time and consolidating manufacturing operations.
- Dynamic Motion can reduce machining time between 25 to 75 percent and reduce cycle time by 5 to 10 percent.
- Verify feature increases confidence in the model so that cutting can begin as soon as programming is complete.
- Dynamic Milling can extend tool life up to 10 times longer by taking larger diameter cuts and using the whole side of an end mill.
“It was the Dynamic Motion technology that really helped us achieve shorter lead time and faster production time. Of course, OptiRough made it easier to polish the part right there, eliminating the finishing step. We got the job done and out the door in no time.”—Kevin Carter, Turning Operations Leader, Northwood Industries