WorkNC helps ensure machining optimization and reliability at Atlantic Modelage Composite

October 08, 2012 - Atlantic Modelage Composite (AMC), a company based in the south of the Loire-Atlantique region of France, is specialized in the design, development and fabrication of models, molds and prototypes made from composite materials. The company, created in 2000 by two associates who are the current joint directors, is a result of an encounter between the two men with complementary areas of expertise - a model maker and a mold maker. AMC's traditional sector of activity: marine/naval industries.

Today, the company continues to grow in the marine industry - its core business (60%) as well as other industries such as military, automotive, construction and civil engineering. The company has a staff of 20 with a projected turnover of Euros 2 million in 2012. Since its inception, AMC has offered its services to all types of resin processing industries. It provides its customers with molds specially adapted to their production requirements. The complete product development cycle is managed internally, from initial design through to manufacturing and including engineering and feasibility studies.

" Before, we did all the design and engineering work in house and then outsourced the machining phase", says Jean-Claude Simonneau, co-director of AMC. " That represented a sizeable cost, between 250 and 300 thousand Euros par year but, above all, we didn't have complete control over the project management. That could have significant impact on aspects such as cost, quality, security and confidentiality." In 2010, AMC decided to invest in a High Speed Machining Center in order to handle project management in house from A to Z..

" Our desire was to support our customer with the best possible conditions throughout the entire life cycle of their projects and even beyond", adds Jean-Claude. The first CNC machine arrived in 2010, closely followed by the implementation of WorkNC CADCAM. " After an in-depth analysis of the market and running benchmarks using our own parts - not those suggested by the software vendors... That would be too easy! We chose WorkNC and its automatic 5-axis module", he tells us.

This led to a 'mini-revolution' within the enterprise. " This new organization did, to some extent, unsettle the workshop, at least at the beginning", remarks M. Minambrès, a programmer at AMC, the only person with CAM experience and who knew WorkNC. Any reluctance was overcome thanks to the assistance and support of the local WorkNC Technical team during the changeover. WorkNC's ease of use and its intuitive design soon won over the users.

Due to the expertise of AMC’s two founders, marine and naval industries are naturally AMC’s main focus. " We know this business. As you may expect, the leading players in this sector with whom we have already worked – for example the BENETEAU Group - have continued to place their trust in us”, says Jean-Claude. One of the biggest constraints in this domain concerns the size of the parts. " When it comes to working on hulls or decks, or even the interior design of a boat, we are not talking about small parts, far from it. We may spend several thousand hours making a complete tool, where there can be over one hundred hours of machining related jobs alone depending on the size and complexity of the parts", he adds.

Well executed machining routines significantly reduce finishing times. Stock model management of these parts also provides a competitive advantage, both in terms of cost and leadtimes. Post-processing and machining simulation are also critical ... " An important asset for avoiding collision risks and to produce the part successfully the first time round.". WorkNC rapidly became the 'linchpin' of the workshop along with the CMS 5-axis machining center made by ANTB CMS France. And Jean Claude adds, with a nod of approval: " I never hear anything about the CAM, so that must mean that everything is OK."

Due to the excellent initial results with the machining center, AMC quickly invested in a second 5-axis machine, barely 8 months after the first one. Understandably, the company renewed its trust in WorkNC and purchased two new licenses of Version 21. " That was really a major step forward for us", said M. Minambrès. " The 64 bit version has enabled us to halve calculation times. It's an important development which offers us some great advantages." And he adds: " Before, we weren't able to run a machining programming cycle at the beginning of the afternoon because we weren't sure that we would obtain the results the same evening. Today, the question no longer arises." WorkNC V21 has allowed the management of toolpath programming to be streamlined, affording a flexibility which is greatly appreciated by its users. 5-axis machining is easy to implement. " We don't do a lot of 5-axis simultaneous machining yet as we are more focused on 3+2 positional machining which has become a standard strategy at AMC."

The last point, but not the least important, is stock model management optimization. Once again, this has been another source of improvement in terms of cost, especially for very large parts. Jean-Claude Simonneau concludes: " In just a few months, we have expanded the WorkNC team from one to three. Our team has quickly learned to address any machining-related shortcomings. We remain constantly in touch with the needs of our customers and we are proud to say that we work very closely with them. Today, AMC enjoys a unique standing in the field of machining composite materials, whether it be on a regional or national scale, in our traditional sector of activity as well as others. The company set about an important change of direction in 2010, a challenge taken on and conquered thanks to our staff but also due to the introduction of digital technologies such as CAM which allowed us to rise to this challenge with total confidence."

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