Delcam/Hermle Combination Cuts Machining Times by 75%

The combination of Delcam’s PowerMILL machining software with a new Hermle 5-axis machining centre has given a 75% reduction in machining times for Reed-Hycalog, a world leader in the manufacture of drill bits for the international oil and gas exploration industry. The company specialises in polycrystalline diamond compact (PDC) bits, in which the cutting elements are a thin layer of diamond backed up by a thicker layer of tungsten carbide. PDC bits have considerably longer life than other types and so can substantially reduce drilling costs.

With each bit costing many thousands of $US, quality is a prime requirement for Reed-Hycalog. The company is rightly proud of its ISO 9001 accreditation, which provides formal confirmation of the record-breaking performance of its bits. In one example, a major North Sea operator drilled a continuous 13,443-foot length with a single bit.

Two years ago, Reed-Hycalog faced an increasingly common problem for CADCAM users � its existing supplier had been taken over and the company was being advised to change to the new owner’s software. While Senior Production Engineer Steve Selwyn was satisfied with the design capabilities of the proposed replacement, he was not happy with the machining system offered and so started to investigate possible alternatives.
At the same time, the CAM system and methods in use were being reviewed as part of a project to support the introduction of a new manufacturing process to significantly reduce order lead times. The result of the investigation was an order for ten seats of Delcam’s PowerMILL; five each for the company’s Eastern Hemisphere Headquarters in Stonehouse, England and the Western Hemisphere Headquarters in Houston, Texas.

Steve highlighted a number of reasons for his choice. “The main benefits were the fast calculation speed, the powerful editing capabilities and the ease of file management. The rest finishing is particularly good for machining fine details, while I have also been impressed by the smoothness of the surface finish. We run a copy of PowerSHAPE on each site to help with setting up work planes and for checking alignments. We also expected to use it to repair imported models. However, the quality of Delcam’s direct translator from our design software has meant that these capabilities have rarely been needed.”

Most of Reed-Hycalog’s production is made to order. The cost of an idle drilling platform runs into thousands of dollars per day so rapid delivery is also a high priority. Compared with the previous CAM system, programming times have been cut by more than 50% with PowerMILL, while the combination of PowerMILL with a new Hermle 5-axis machining centre has given a 75% reduction in machining times.
The new manufacturing process using the Hermle requires between 250,000 and 500,000 lines of code for each drill head. “Even so, we have never had a single strange move from a PowerMILL program. Using ViewMILL, what you see on the computer screen is what you get on the machine tool,” Steve commented.

For further information on Delcam’s PowerMILL, please contact: -
Peter Dickin, Public Relations Manager
Direct phone: 44 (0)121 683 1081                e-mail: Email Contact

Delcam plc,                                                
Small Heath Business Park,                                
Birmingham, B10 0HJ,                                 

Delcam Inc.
3270 Electricity Drive
Windsor, Ont. N8W 5J1

Caption: A selection of drill bits manufactured by Reed Hycalog


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