Dynamic Thinking: 4 Steps to Strategically Expand Product Variety
When shops are busy, it is easy to get caught in a rut. There is no time to experiment with new ideas or learn new concepts during normal production. Any time you experience a slowdown that reduces the demands on your production line can be frustrating, but it’s also an opportunity. Expanding your shop’s capabilities can bring in new customers and new jobs. It may even give your business added security in the future. This unexpected time can be put to strategic use in order to look for new jobs, reevaluate repeating jobs, and experiment with new ways of making parts.
Here are four—easy to implement—suggestions you can use to strategically take advantage of downtime in your shop and expand the variety of the product you can deliver.
1. Experiment with 5-axis
Bolt on a rotary device to your 3-axis table to unlock 5-axis indexing techniques. The complex parts you will be able to make with 5-axis machining are sure to take your shop to the next level. Whereas many complicated shapes are inexpedient on a 3-axis because of their many setups and specialized fixtures, 5-axis machining can make producing those same parts a breeze.
2. Learn Dynamic Toolpaths
Dynamic Motion Technology is a set of proprietary algorithms that are designed to maximize cutting efficiency. Dynamic Motion constantly assesses the stock material for split-second changes and makes cutting adjustments immediately to keep chipload even. This keeps machine wear to a minimum, extends tool life, and slashes cycle times.
3. Evaluate your Tools and Holders
Be sure that your tool holders are not holding you back. The set-screw type holders may be worn out or slightly out of center, which will cause vibration and excessive tool wear. Tapered shrink fit holders can give you extra rigidity and more access at the same time. Chatter free cutters, used with Mastercam’s Dynamic Motion Technology, can dramatically increase tool life while reducing cycle times. Inspect the insert pockets on your tools and make repairs to the seats and threads.
4. Think about Effective Fixturing
Using effective fixturing means striking a balance. If the part is gripped too loosely, cutting accurately is impossible. If the part is gripped too tightly, it may become warped or experience spring-back. Creative fixturing is an art. Spend some time learning about cutting strategies that reduce the need for multiple setups. Mastercam’s Manufacturing Lab has many YouTube videos to learn from. The Chainguard, Optical Mount, and Aerospace Latch videos are a few examples that cover this topic.
Steps to expand product variety in your shop can be a part of your long-term strategies for manufacturing success. If you are a Mastercam user, run a machine shop, or are simply looking for more ideas to keep a shop running at peak safety and productivity, check out additional content in our Dynamic Thinking series. This series includes training opportunities, webinars, and more to help you find ways to adapt to changing conditions and expectations in manufacturing markets.