DP Technology: “Change Before You Have To”

A few weeks ago, I got acquainted with a CAM company that previously I had little exposure to or experience with – DP Technology. I was invited to the company’s World Conference 2008 in Denver, Colorado and spent a couple of days getting to know the company, its products, and some of its customers. I came away from the event impressed with just about everything I saw and heard, as well as a better understanding of the CAM industry in general and where DP Technology and its product line are heading. The experience was educational and insightful.

DP Technology Corp is a privately held company co-founded in 1982 by Daniel Frayssinet, who is the current CEO, and Paul Ricard, who is the current president. The company gets its name from the first names of the co-founders – (D)an and (P)aul. The company’s corporate headquarters is in Camarillo, California. The rest of the company is structured by function with offices in France, Germany, Italy, China, and Japan. DP Technology is the developer of the diverse ESPRIT CAM system sold and supported via the company’s regional offices and its network of resellers throughout the world. It also has close partnerships with several of the leading milling, turning, and EDM machine manufacturers, such as Mori Seiki, Mazak, Citizen, and Sodick. An interesting aside is the fact that in Japan, Mori Seiki has over 10,000 of its machines connected to the Internet for troubleshooting and software update purposes.

DP Technology develops CAM software for a full range of machine tool applications. ESPRIT, DP Technology's flagship product line, is a full-spectrum programming system for milling, turning, wire EDM, and multitasking machine tools. ESPRIT's data exchange functionality reads data from most native formats, including Autodesk Inventor, CATIA, SolidWorks, Solid Edge, NX, ACIS, and Pro/ENGINEER. DP Technology also provides complementary add-ins for several CAD programs. ESPRIT literally gets its name from the French noun, esprit de corps, that translates to spirit of a body of persons or group spirit; sense of pride, honor, etc. shared by those in the same group or undertaking. Pretty interesting origin for naming a product line, but seems appropriate in this case.

DP Technology continually reinforces its commitment to its technology and customers by dedicating approximately 20% of its annual revenues to ongoing product research and development. DP Technology currently has two patents pending on the technology embodied within ESPRIT. The products I saw demonstrated at the world Event all looked very Windows-compliant with a friendly UI and well-documented, meaning that they are probably relatively easy to learn and use. As a matter of fact, I spoke briefly with DP Technology’s CEO on this topic, and he said that one of the company’s main goals was ease of use, and greatly reducing the learning curve, which he said is usually on the order of a year or more for most competing CAM products.

I spoke with DP Technology’s VP of marketing and R&D, Chuck Matthews, and when asked about the state of the CAM market, he said that it is largely fragmented into three distinct segments – hardcore CNC programmers who code CNC machines for their companies; integrated CAD/CAM vendors, such as Dassault, PTC, and Siemens PLM Software; and independent CAM vendors, such as DP Technology, Mastercam, and Gibbs & Associates (now owned by Cimatron). He said each has its own advantages, but thought that the dedicated efforts that independent companies specializing in CAM bring the most to the table, and obviously, he felt that DP Technology had the ability to serve up the most impressive and satisfying course.

In his keynote presentation, CEO, Dan Frayssinet inferred that working with an independent CAM vendor is the way to go. He said, “Don’t continually reinvent the wheel when it comes to CAM software. Rent it, buy it, license it, share it – use it in a better way. He said, with regard to manufacturers, “Adopt appropriate technology and change before you have to based on what your competition is doing.” He also shared data from a company survey that showed that an amazing 99% of DP Technology’s ESPRIT customers were satisfied with product quality, functionality, and technical support. An enviable sentiment in anyone’s book.

Program any Machine Tool, Machine any Part Geometry

The company says that its ESPRIT system provides programming for virtually any CNC machine tool. ESPRIT’s full-spectrum functionality includes programming for 2-5 axis milling, 2-22 axis turning, 2-5 axis wire EDM, multitasking mill-turn machining, and B-axis machine tools. The company also claims that its ESPRIT system is valued by CNC programmers for its extensive suite of machining cycles, comprehensive tool control, and capacity to fully support an entire shop.

ESPRIT’s CAD to CAM interface directly imports just about any native part model from any source, fully intact, with no need for programmers to edit or rebuild geometry. ESPRIT directly machines from any combination of geometries — solids, surfaces, wireframe, or STL. Starting with complete and accurate part geometry eliminates nearly all of the difficulty in programming complicated parts and dramatically reduces programming time. These all add up to huge time savers, because CAM can be quite a bit different than CAD, and machine programming is often more practiced art than learned science.

Another vital part of the CAM puzzle is ESPRIT’s universal post processor that creates the G-code needed to fully exploit any machine tool. ESPRIT provides out-of-the-box operation with a complete library of pre-defined post processors. Additional factory-certified posts are available for most leading machine tool brands, and ESPRIT’s open architecture lets you adjust any post processor to suit your personal preferences and shopfloor requirements.

Dynamic Solid Simulation and Verification

As big a deal as simulation and verification are in the CAD world, these abilities are just as important in the CAM world, as well – in some cases more important because physical tools and stock material are expensive items. ESPRIT’s dynamic solid verification eliminates the need for expensive dry runs on an NC machine. Machining processes have a higher probability of succeeding because you can compare accurately rendered “as designed ” versus “as machined” parts. ESPRIT’s real-time simulation and comprehensive collision detection ensure that even the most complex of parts will be machined correctly the first time. ESPRIT provides verification information of a part program simulated within a complete machining environment, including elements such as machine tool, fixtures, clamps, stock, and workpiece. This ability to simulate and verify minimizes downtime, maximizes manufacturing efficiency, and cuts machining costs while validating comprehensive machining processes.

The ESPRIT Product Line

ESPRIT is DP Technology’s Parasolid-based family of CAM software products for programming CNC (computer numerical control) machine tools, and includes:

ESPRIT SolidMill for 2-5 axis milling machines

ESPRIT can be used for quick jobs, yet can also handle complex production milling work. Whether programming 2 1/2-axis parts or 5-axis machining, ESPRIT provides the programming power and the ease-of-use necessary for getting the job done. ESPRIT automatically generates optimized toolpaths, minimizing cycle time.

ESPRIT SolidMill Production adds 5-axis machining capability to ESPRIT's milling cycles. Programmers can use multiple fixture offset with local or global work coordinates to machine any part face, using any ESPRIT machining cycle.

ESPRIT rotary milling is performed directly from the 3D features of solid models or from flat 2D features. ESPRIT programs rotary contouring, pocketing and drilling utilizing a simultaneous 4th axis. ESPRIT converts one of the standard 3-axis movements (X, Y, or Z) into a rotary C-axis movement, wrapping the profile around a rotary axis and employing an optional Y-axis offset for straight walls.

ESPRIT's pocketing cycle provides full tool control and extensive automation for roughing and finishing pockets. ESPRIT can dramatically simplify programming whether machining straight-forward squares or complex pockets with irregular boundaries, multi-level islands, and multiple bosses and sub-pockets. The variety of pocket machining and finishing patterns provided by ESPRIT yields virtually unlimited options for pocket milling.

ESPRIT SolidTurn for single or multi turret/spindle turning

Traditional turning centers are being rapidly supplemented by multi-axis machines with the ability to produce complex parts unattended. Whether you are looking for a CAM system to automate traditional turning – from roughing and grooving to threading and finishing – for faster, more accurate results, or to maximize multi-axis machine tools.

Multi-axis Swiss-style turning centers can be programmed with ESPRIT for realizing their potential for single set-up, unattended machining. ESPRIT accommodates the special demands of of Swiss machines and creates programs that take full advantage of Swiss-style capabilities with comprehensive tool path creation, simulation, collision detection, and accurate G-code generation.

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