CAD/CAM Innovation Helps Shop Compete and Improve in Evolving Transfer and Progressive and Die Industry
X-Cel Tooling, Inc. has operated its 62,000 square foot facility—with 54,000 of that devoted to its tooling manufacturing and assembly operations—for 40 years. It employs 68 people, including eight full-time design engineers, 24 full-time tool makers, tooling machinists, and machine operators working two shifts producing precision manufacturing components for the appliance, automotive, computer, electrical, lawn and garden, and off-road vehicles industries.
Appliance, Automotive, Computer, Electrical, Lawn and Garden, and Off-Road Vehicles
“We build progressive and transfer dies for all sorts of different industries; automotive being the biggest,” said Manufacturing Manager Mike Mamerow. “John Deere, Toyota, Doosan, and Bobcat are big customers for us, and we’re a Tier One Ford supplier.”
X-Cel puts its manufacturing space to good use, running a full complement of the latest industrial machines.
“We have 11 CNC machining centers, including one horizontal; all the rest are vertical machining centers. We have six Wire EDM machines, a Flow CNC 6012 Integrated Flying Bridge Waterjet, and we have a flat Mitsubishi laser and one 5-axis Mitsubishi (3122VZ20) laser.”
The company has six active licenses of Mastercam: four seats for machining, one for the Wire EDM, and one for the 5-axis laser.
“We’ve been using Mastercam for two years now,” Mamerow said. “The biggest challenge we had was that our previous software was becoming slow and antiquated by today’s standards. We were getting outdated in how we were machining things, so we jumped into Mastercam to try to be more progressive and innovative with our techniques, using the latest features that are now available.”
The ability to ramp up its feeds and speeds was a key selling point for X-Cel Tooling, too.
“The Mastercam Dynamic Milling toolpaths was another reason we wanted to switch,” Mamerow said. “That was a feature we physically could not program with our old software, and we watched videos of it ripping material off a block like crazy and said, ‘We’ve got to try to get this here!’ Getting into Dynamic Milling also changed a lot of our tooling itself. We determined that we could cut material out faster with a half-inch coated mill than we were with a 2-inch cutter before. We invested a lot of money in the tooling along with the new software because of our new capabilities. That helps us get our speeds and feeds faster on the floor.”
Machining form blocks posed a bit of a challenge to the team. They needed to figure out the best way to attack the part with the shortest endmill in the shortest cycle time. The form block which started as a 4.5” x 7” x 9” block of D2 steel, required a contour tolerance of +/- 0.0005”. They were able to achieve optimal cutting speeds using the Dynamic OptiRough toolpaths with 2” High Feed mill at a spindle speed of 1350 @ 275 IPM. Finishing operations were performed using the OptiRest toolpaths which allowed rapid material removal with minimal tool stress. “Dynamic OptiRest makes reworking areas with smaller radii very efficient,” observed NC Programmer Mark Ebert.
Using the software’s Verify function to run simulations before performing cuts is a huge bonus to their capabilities, said Ebert. “It’s definitely a huge upgrade from what we had,” Ebert said. “I mean, it basically shows the exact way to handle it on the floor. It eliminates a lot of the errors.”
The ability to have one CAM software program across all machine types streamlines the entire shop floor operation. This is especially beneficial for the one wire programmer who is charged with operating six wire EDM machines. He downloads the part model from CATIA, then programs the toolpaths in Mastercam Wire across all the machines. This is also true of the flat laser.
Mamerow was able to create an X+ set up sheet in the software (it is available as an add-on) keeping everyone on the same page and establishing a set of instructions and parameters for all to follow.
The support Mamerow and Ebert received from Mastercam and their Reseller, ShopWare, helped ease their transition. “It’s a big deal, because it was hard to let go of the vehicle that we had done for fifteen years and switch to something new,” said Mamerow. “Mastercam was very good at helping us get there.”
“Getting into the Dynamic Milling also changed a lot of our tooling itself. We were determined that we could cut material out faster with a half inch coated mill than we were with a 2-inch cutter before. We invested a lot in the tooling along with the new software because of our new capabilities here. That helps us get our speeds and feeds faster on the floor.”– X-Cel Tooling NC Programmer Mark Ebert
“With ShopWare (Elgin, Illinois), Mastercam has been available for a phone call, or somebody has come in pretty much whenever we’ve needed it — which is a big deal, because it was hard to let go of the vehicle that we had done for fifteen years and switch to something new. Mastercam was very good at helping us get there.”– X-Cel Tooling NC Programmer Mark Ebert
X-Cel Tooling wanted to stay innovative with toolpath strategies, as clients demanded more precision machining. Their previous software could not keep up and they felt outdated in their machining capabilities. They needed a CAD/CAM software package that included strong CAM programming strategies as well as the CAD.
Mastercam, the most widely used CAD/CAM software for machining applications.
- Dynamic Milling toolpaths offer constant chip loading at high speeds.
- OptiRough toolpaths allow fast material removal for 3D shapes.
- Verify feature to run simulations before performing cuts.
- Ability to drive the 5-axis flat laser.
- Mastercam is the most used CAD/CAM software in manufacturing.