Software and Tooling Team Up to Supercharge Manufacturing Time
The late Jerry Magnuson is a legend in the hot rod racing and aftermarket industry. Extending his love of the sport beyond the track, Jerry and his wife Maureen Magnuson started Magnuson Products in Ventura, California, after many years of designing and building supercharger kits for the aftermarket (and now OEMs). In 2010, they sold the company to Kim Pendergast who has continued their legacy while continuing to invest in new technologies.
Superchargers are like air pumps that pump the air forced into the engine to create more horsepower. According to Hubert Gromek, machine shop manager at Magnuson, every little part of the superchargers, down to the most miniscule component, is important. After many years of outsourcing various machining processes, they invested in eight CNC mills and three lathes, and Mastercam to power the operation. Today, nine machinists help churn out roughly 3,000 to 4,000 parts per month. Eighty to ninety percent to percent of all products are produced inhouse, in two shifts per day.
The supercharger’s sand castings, made from sand-casted aluminum, are challenging to machine due to the material’s abrasive surface, which takes a toll on endmills. At the suggestion of his tooling distributor, Gromek tried Helical endmills which feature a proprietary Zplus coating that holds up to the rigors of machining these abrasive surfaces.
“The porosity and abrasiveness of these castings eats up endmills pretty badly, but the coating on the Helical endmills seems to hold up very well. I’m getting a lot of tool life out of these. Plus, the finishes come out amazing,” said Gromek. He believes it’s better knowing that, when his machinists grab an endmill out of their tool crib, they know it will work with all of the feeds and speeds and programs rather than taking chances and extra time reproving out programs. It has made a big difference with production times and part quality.
To program the toolpaths for the company’s Master Patterns and Core Boxes, Gromek creates the shape inside the large aluminum billets so the foundry can make the cores that go inside the castings. Surface finish is important so that the sand does not stick to the core box. The accuracy of the mold is critical. Gromek used to program a standard pocket routine which took a long time to rough the material out before programming standard toolpaths to finish the job. Then Sean Bellemeur, training manager at Mastercam Reseller CAD/CAM CONSULTING SERVICES, showed Gromek how to use Dynamic OptiRough toolpaths to save considerable time.
OptiRough toolpaths use Dynamic Motion but in a more precise way. The cut uses the entire flute length of the tool, but a small percentage of the tool’s diameter on the first cut, followed by several successive shorter cuts that bring the part into the net shape desired. “To be able to run at 200- to 300-inches-per-minute, almost 1” deep with a ½” endmill, just ripping through the material…something that used to take hours to hog out can take maybe an hour,” reflected Gromek. “The finishes and quality of the part have improved.”