Making the most of job opportunities determines the success or failure of businesses around the world. This is why it is always important to innovate and stay up to date with new technologies, to help create and drive new job opportunities within and outside of your current markets.
In the Australian manufacturing industry especially, more machining businesses are making an effort to diversify their customer base and capabilities to increase their opportunities. There are many ways to achieve this outcome, but one of the most effective ways of enhancing the capabilities of existing cnc machines is to utilise CAM software.
Maltec run a large, successful machine shop in Tasmania, where they currently employ a total of 42 staff, running both a morning and afternoon shift. Most of their work comes from within the mining industry for which they complete a variety of work from light fabrication through to CNC machining.
hyperMILL CAM software was purchased recently to make underlying improvements to their range of CNC machines, allowing them to utilise their full five-axis and run highly complex machining jobs.
Speaking with Maltec’s Managing Director Lindsay Malley, provides an interesting insight into their capabilities pre-hyperMILL. “There were a few jobs we’ve had to knock back over the years because we haven’t had the ability to programme in full five-axis. But now we’ve implemented hyperMILL, we are branching out into new areas.”
When asked about his reasoning behind purchasing the software, Lindsay’s reply was straight forward. “We just wanted to improve our capabilities.”
Using CAM software such as hyperMILL can bring many benefits, in addition to boosting machine capabilities. Benefits can be compared to purchasing a new multi-tasking CNC machine, after owning a standard machining centre or lathe. hyperMILL will reduce the number of machine setups, improve cycle and machine setup time, and also simplify machining of complicated parts.
Lindsay mentions the most noticeable benefit, aside from making creation of the part possible, is accuracy, especially for complicated machining which can suffer from small inaccuracies when the part changes orientation or part holding while operating setups which are incapable of using five-axis machining.
There are numerous industries such as aerospace which require machined parts to be extremely accurate. These parts are often highly complex and require full five-axis to even complete the job. The hyperMILL software not only makes this possible but also relatively straightforward as well.
An exhaust manifold was Maltec’s first job produced with hyperMILL and was one of the contributing factors in deciding to purchase the software. A successful trial run was initially completed by John Hart Software Engineers to demonstrate the ability to complete the part. John Hart Application Engineers then fine-tuned the part programme in order to decrease the cycle time and a successful prototype was then handed over to the customer and new work has been programmed since.
In total, John Hart Engineer’s spent a week at Maltec providing training and helping staff to upgrade the machines and setup the Manifold job. On mentioning the service provided by John Hart, Lindsay was quick to point out, “We’ve been very happy and recommend the service we’ve received from John Hart. Because we are located in Tassie, we communicate a bit over the phone with them. Being that bit further away, it’s been handy to build that relationship.”
Since the exhaust manifold job, the focus at Maltec is slowly shifting towards full five-axis jobs, “As we look toward the future with other machines to buy, we will be focusing on full multi-tasking machines that can utilise the hyperMILL software and make full use of the five-axis capabilities. We are looking at either the i or j series Integrex from Mazak”.
Maltec have also changed the way they approach new jobs given their knowledge of machining using full-five axis. This means they can plan ahead using their newly available options, providing the most efficient and cost effective way to produce the part. They’re also actively pursuing five-axis work from both new and existing customers. As Lindsay put it, “we are trying to branch out into new areas using the new capabilities, so we’re not as reliant on our current customer base.”
hyperMILL software can be easily integrated into most modern multi-tasking CNC machines, regardless of brand. The software works seamlessly between CAD programs Solidworks and Autodesk Inventor eliminating the duplication of work and data. hyperMILL’s post processor is considered to be of the highest quality allowing the user to get the most out of their machine tool. The software also uses a single interface for all machining, from 2D through to simultaneous five-axis machining, making the program more intuitive and the jobs easier to manage.