November 24, 2014 -- Die-cast aluminum components, which play a central role in the production of lightweight engines and transmissions, are in demand today as never before. That’s good news for Heck & Becker, a forerunner for die-cast mold production that has focused exclusively on the construction of sophisticated molding tools since the 1990s.
Established as a model factory in 1936 and dubbed Dautphe by founders Ludwig Heck and Jakob Becker, the family business known today as Heck & Becker has grown from an original eight to 160 employees. As one of the most successful and innovative mold makers for the automotive sector, the company — based in Dautphetal, Germany — is actively involved in the development of emerging automotive technologies. In addition to producing parts for conventional combustion engines, the company manufactures lightweight components, as well as alternative-energy parts.
Progress Through CAD and CAM Software
Over the years, Heck & Becker has demonstrated that it’s not just at the technological forefront when it comes to embracing new production processes, but new design and programming methods as well. Modern computer-aided-design (CAD) and computer-aided-manufacturing (CAM) techniques were implemented by the company in the early ’90s, when it invested in Catia CAD software, by Dassault Systèmes, due to its direct cooperation with automobile manufacturers. The mold maker then added NC programming to its repertoire by installing WorkNC, a CAM system by Vero Software.
Achim Klein, who manages the production control department that handles CAM, HSM and EDM for Heck & Becker, believes that early developments in manufacturing software led to a revolution in the tool and mold-making industry. Today, with the use of design software and WorkNC at Heck & Becker, a part model is created on a PC and imported into WorkNC system. A program is then generated with a few clicks of the mouse and directly transferred to the machine tool. The entire milling job, which in the past could take more than a year, now only takes a few days — or even a few hours.
“WorkNC is the CAM System for Mold and Die Making”
Heck & Becker has been using WorkNC for over 20 years, and the primary reason for its initial choice remains the same.
“WorkNC is the CAM system for mold and die making. It is easy to use and includes all the special milling strategies we need,” according to both Klein and Ralf Fett, Heck & Becker’s production manager since 1983.
Today, Heck & Becker employs five programmers who use WorkNC V22 to power a total of 16 machining centers and EDM machines. To make their jobs easier than ever, WorkNC provides optimized milling strategies for 2-, 2.5- and 3D machining, as well as advantageous automatic functions for 3-, 4- and 5-axis machining. WorkNC plays a crucial role in the journey from art to part at Heck & Becker — and that journey begins with CAD interoperability.
“As our customers use different development and design systems, WorkNC offers direct interfaces to all major systems,” Fett says.
Fett adds that WorkNC, in addition to its feature-recognition capability, is also valuable for its ease in tool management, as well as for its collision detection and simulation functions. Along the lines of simulation capabilities, the company takes advantage of the WorkNC Viewer, which allows machine–tool operators to analyze and simulate CAM programs before production, and provides detailed information more quickly and accurately than can printed drawings and process reports.
Viewers Save Time and Walking Distances
In order to quickly provide important information concerning parts and die-casting molds for other divisions of the company, Heck & Becker also invested in several licenses of Vero Software’s WorkXplore 3D viewer five years ago. This fast-acting software is designed for the direct representation, analysis and collaborative addition of 3D CAD data without the need to acquire the original CAD software. After a test period in the purchasing, finance, and assembly departments, Heck & Becker employees cannot imagine life without it. Even the programming department uses WorkXplore 3D to rapidly check original customer data before starting the actual programming work.
For Klein and Fett, this ease of use, ability to verify data and simulate programs makes for a powerful package. Ultimately, customer satisfaction and quality production make WorkNC the strongest player on the stage.
Part of the Vero Software Group, WorkNC is a leading automatic CNC software for surface or solid models in mold, die and tooling businesses for 2 to 5-axis CNC programming. WorkXplore contains many features usually only found in CAD systems, enabling the user to perform diagnostics, create assembly instructions and prepare the production of 3D models.
Vero is part of Hexagon (Nordic exchange: HEXA B), a leading global provider of design, measurement and visualisation technologies that enable customers to design, measure and position objects, and process and present data.