CAM Software Helps Contract Manufacturer Machine Complex Airliner Barstools

When Aerotech Precision Manufacturing Ltd. (Poole Dorset, United Kingdom), a sub-contract machining company specializing in high-end parts for the naval, aerospace, medical, oil, and nuclear industries, was approached by an international commercial airline to create three barstools for each first-class section of the upper bar area on 12 airliners, the contemporary shape of the barstools posed a challenge. Manufactured from a solid billet of L93 aluminum, the barstools were roughed and finished on a multiaxis bed mill.

“With the barstools, there was an application challenge and we resolved it,” said Aaron Houston, business development director. “The product was extremely complex in terms of shape and surface finish.”

To rough the shape of the stools, programmers created high-speed toolpaths using Mastercam’s Dynamic Motion technology, which allows for constant chip loading for rapid material removal. Proprietary algorithms programmed into the software sense changes in the material so the tool remains constantly engaged with the aluminum, minimizing air cuts and tool breakage.

Given the size and shape of the finished product, machining the barstools meant removing a significant amount of billet material. The software’s 3D machining, with automatic leftover removal feature, more than proved its worth: the product in the semi-finished state started at 551 lbs. and was cut down to 24 lbs. The final product dimensions were 980 mm x 235 mm x 415 mm.

Solid-model cut verification and machine simulation via Mastercam’s Verify function ensured cutting accuracy. “You can prove it all out electronically,” said Aaron Houston, business development manager. “The graphics are very sophisticated…You can effectively see the tool do its job first before you get anywhere near the cut metal.”

After roughing and initial finishing were complete, the semi-finished barstools were transferred to an outside manufacturer for mirror polishing, gold plating and leather binding.

Producing such a complex piece demonstrates Aerotech’s ability to meet stringent design requirements and keep pace with production demands. “Mastercam helps us shorten lead times by giving us machine codes quicker,” said Andy Harvey, operations director. “We wouldn’t be able to do some of our jobs without it.”

By expediting machining processes and tackling complex geometries, Mastercam CAD/CAM software continues to help Aerotech Precision cut a path to ongoing success. For this contract manufacturer, the sky is certainly not the limit.