Machine Shop Eliminates Programming Step with Mastercam
Located in Saukville, Wisconsin, Oldenburg Metal Tech, Inc., specializes in complex, progressive stamping dies. The 25,000 square foot machine shop also produces welding fixtures, production parts, and prototypes for anything from automotive steering brackets and frame components to dental trays. Volumes can run in the hundreds for stamping die components and production plate work or into the thousands for small production components.
The stamping dies feature complex geometries with tight tolerances that can take time to produce due to tooling changes, breakages, or programming challenges. In order to minimize time and costs, Oldenburg invested in 10 vertical machining centers, four turning centers—one with live tooling dedicated to production machining—and a powerful CAD/CAM software package to make programming easier, more efficient, and more functional.
Mill, Dynamic Motion
Tool and Die, Automotive,Medical, Job Shop
According to CNC programmer Vinny Decker, most of the jobs that come through Oldenburg Tech have complex geometries with tolerances within 0.001” to 0.002” but can go within tenths of an inch when necessary. “We do so much hard milling here, that with some of the tighter tolerance or 3D work, the stamping box will be heat-treated, and I’ll need to perform a secondary hard mill operation to achieve certain tolerances, finishes, etc.” Decker relies on the different functions of Mastercam to get those tolerances and finishes while removing material at record rates.
One key aspect is Dynamic Motion Technology which allows the shop to push the machines to their speed limits. Through proprietary algorithms programmed into the software, the tool remains constantly engaged with the material, automatically sensing changes in geometries programmed into the highspeed toolpaths by Decker. They do a lot of highspeed area roughing with highspeed mills. The waterline and raster finishing paths are done with carbide end mills and saw mills. Dynamic milling is also used for deep pockets with the machines removing material at a rate of 150” to 200” per minute. Typical end mill and ball mill sizes range from 1/8” to ¾” while the highspeed ball mills for roughing range from ½” to 2”.
The toolpaths have allowed Oldenburg to take on bigger and more complex jobs such as larger dies requiring 3D contouring and hard milling for tighter tolerances. The number of toolpaths available has allowed them to cut machining times in half.
Mastercam’s Verify feature provides Decker and the machinists the confidence to run the machines at high speeds without worrying about tool and part breakage, or damage to the machine. He “collision checks” parts where there might be some deep pockets or 3D contouring and uses Verify’s compare function to ensure that he didn’t accidentally hit something in the toolpath. The Accurate Zoom feature allows Decker to get an idea as to what the finish will look like.
Decker’s favorite software features are found in the Model Prep function because they are simple to use and save him a lot of time. “A couple of years ago, I might not have been able to close up a surface or fill in holes on a 3D surface,” he recalled. “At that time, I would have to go to our designers and ask them to create a separate model without the holes in order to run 3D paths on it.”
Decker said that 99 percent of the time he can suppress any feature on the solid model he chooses. He can extend 3D surfaces, move them up and down to add more clearance, or add more stock if necessary. By eliminating the need to create a separate surface model, he saves anywhere from five seconds to an hour in programming time.
Oldenburg recently machined 16 large, complex 3D stamping blocks measuring roughly 24” x 16” and 4” to 5” thick. The top of the blocks featured 3D contours in small radiuses. The surfaces were roughed, heat treated, and hardened to 60 Rockwell then hard milled. The total process took about 20 hours per block, including figuring out which of the many toolpaths available would work best and the different cutter technology for hard milling. Decker had to account for the finishing process, so he took all of the 3D surfaces and projected them up to about 0.0020” to reflect the extra stock needed.
Decker has always used Mastercam software and relies on his local Reseller, ShopWare, Inc. for support when questions arise and to train machinists in the software’s milling functions. He also explores the CAD/CAM capabilities of the software during lull periods, to discover additional functions and features that will make his work life easier. “It pays to invest a little of your time in learning the features because it’s going to save you a lot of time down the road.”
“The best part of the software for me is the Model Prep feature for sure. Just by adding those model prep features in Mastercam, it basically eliminated a step in my process, because I no longer need new designs to suppress or change features on a 3D model.”– Vinny Decker, CNC Programmer, Oldenburg Metal Tech, Inc.
“The folks at ShopWare will drop in and see if we have any questions or concerns for stuff that we need help with. We’ve sent people to ShopWare for basic mill training; to learn how to get around Mastercam at a basic level. They also came here and did a little bit of in-house training. They’re very supportive and are there to answer our questions when we have them.”– Vinny Decker, CNC Programmer, Oldenburg Metal Tech, Inc.
Manufacture progressive stamping dies with complex geometries and tight tolerances in less time without tooling changes and breakages during hard milling processes.
Mastercam, the most widely used CNC software for CAD/CAM operations
- Mastercam is easy to learn.
- Dynamic Motion technology allows the machines to run as fast as possible.
- Hard milling for tighter tolerances is possible due to availability of different types of highspeed toolpaths.
- Collision checks allow programmers to determine when tool changes are necessary and to preview part finishes.
- Model Prep feature allows programmers to change surfaces without having to create a separate solid model.