December 8, 2014 -- VISI software was at the heart of a mould maker’s recent move to new 6,500 square foot premises. KA Tooling say VISI gave them confidence to invest in additional CNC machines and move to larger premises to meet the growing demand for their bespoke injection mould tools.
According to Director Alex Hill, VISI ensures jobs are finished on the machines much faster than with their previous software. “When we first installed VISI the efficiency gains in terms of speed and accuracy enabled us to take on more work, but we were becoming limited by the size of our premises and number of machines.”
They moved to their new premises in Leicestershire in the summer, and installed three additional CNC machines; now having four Hurcos – two each of VMX 42 and VM 10 – a Haas VF7 with a 2-metre x 800 envelope, a number of Cincinattis, and a Mitsubishi EX spark eroder.
He says they utilise VISI to the full – four seats of VISI Modelling and VISI Machining, a VISI Viewer package, and a seat each of VISI Mould, Electrode, Flow-Lite and Compass Technology.
“We maximise technology to reduce costs and improve turnaround, especially in the aluminium market, and VISI enables us to achieve this with top quality moulds. The days of producing aluminium tooling to get the customer’s product to market and then replacing it with a P20 steel tool after around 50 shots off it, have gone. We make aluminium tools where customers produce over half a million mouldings.”
As KA Tooling now manufacture more than 100 high precision tools a year, Alex Hill says VISI’s Compass Technology is particularly important for automating the process of manufacturing bolster sets. “It’s rules-based machining, by setting parameters for different features within a bolster plate. Thanks to Compass, we’re now using just one machining centre, rather than two, to produce bolsters.
“We offer an expedited service – customers come to us because we can offer a two week turnaround from start to finish, whereas most companies quote four to five weeks. So we can’t afford to have machines tied up with bolster plates for two or three days when we’ve only got a week to produce the mould tool.
“The bolster assembly has all the features attached to each individual plate, and instead of each plate being programmed separately, we just hit one button and the machining file is ready for the whole bolster set.”
Depending on the complexity of the tool, mould designer Director Kien Chung will run a VISI plastic flow front simulation to analyse how the part will mould, highlight the best gate location, and check for weld lines, air traps, and if there are any gassing issues. “We use Flow-Lite where we need to produce more demanding technical tools, as it gives us all the information we need to assess a component’s mouldability.
“Otherwise, I go straight to VISI’s analysis features to check aspects such as draft and wall sections prior to tool design. I don’t want to design the tool and then find the wall section’s too thick or too thin, or there are no draft angles.”
Using VISI has cut their average tool design time by half – from two days to less than a day – and means KA now undertake around 90 per cent of designs in-house. “Before we installed VISI Mould we were only creating around a quarter of the designs ourselves. It also gives us greater efficiencies in ordering parts; we’ve got standardised lists from suppliers such as HASCO and DME, all their parts are stored in a database, so ordering parts for jobs is handled as a simple parts and cutting list.
“Then we generate 2D drawings to send to customers, and VISI also exports 3D models in a number of native CAD formats if the customer requires those. When everything’s been approved, the job is issued to the three operators who keep our nine machines running.”
And he says VISI 3D machining is now an essential part of the manufacturing process. The software creates intelligent toolpaths on even the most complex 3D parts. Dedicated high speed milling techniques and built-in smoothing algorithms create highly efficient NC code, reducing cycle times, improving productivity, and continuously producing their high quality mould tools.
“We have a greater variety of 3D machining strategies now. Using these in conjunction with the powerful rest area machining options reduces both fresh air machining and programming time.”
Alex Hill concludes by saying integration between the VISI modules also aids efficiency. “We know there can’t be any data input error as there’s just the one system handling all aspects of analysis, design and machining, including electrode production. After installing VISI we realised we could benefit from using VISI Electrode, so invested in a Mitsubishi EX spark eroder with tool changer. It’s invaluable for creating and managing electrodes and their holders for manufacturing the detailed and hard to machine features on our mould tools. And the comprehensive holder design, simulation and collision checking ensures our electrodes will operate correctly first time.”
Part of the Vero Software Group, VISI is a leading CAD/CAM solution for the mould and die industry, providing productivity, reliability and flexibility. Vero has direct offices in the UK, Germany, Italy, France, Japan, USA, Brazil, Netherlands, China, South Korea, Spain and India supplying products to more than 45 countries through its wholly owned subsidiaries and reseller network.
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.