Lights, Camera, CAM!
In-depth coverage and videos of some of our customers, along with supporting resource materials and webinar training.
“With the intelligence of the default technology and process technology, I can teach ESPRIT to program features how I want them programmed.”
— Spencer Burns, 3 Points Aviation
3 Points Aviation Masters the Art of After-Market Design and Engineering with ESPRIT
“One-of-a-kind” is a phrase at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to business at 3 Points Aviation. Subtract the fact that the company is nestled quietly in picturesque Charlottetown on Canada’s Prince Edward Island and even without the scenic locale business behind shop doors is beyond the ordinary.
Among the capabilities of the company are the reverse engineering, repair, overhaul, and manufacturing of components for the Dash-8 and other aircraft. “We can handle those situations where there is an aircraft on the ground waiting for a component,” says Spencer Burns, lead programmer. “We can receive an AOG (Aircraft on Ground) manufacturing request from a customer, where a 20-plus year old drawing is usually provided, and have their one-off part to them in as little as one to two days.”
ESPRIT was chosen by 3 Points Aviation to program its seven CNC machine tools — including mills, lathes, mill-turns and wire EDM machines. A 3-axis lathe, 4-axis wire EDM, B-axis mill-turn, 3 and 5-axis mills, and a four-by-eight-foot water-jet machine are among the extensive lineup.
Though the shop doesn’t do much repetitive work, 3 Points uses the ESPRIT KnowlegdeBase to free programmers from its small share of repetitive programming tasks, as well as to document vital data. Revision control is critical, and being able to quickly swap tools, speeds, feeds, and processes from the KnowledgeBase drastically reduces the time and error that goes into controlling multiple part revisions through the manufacturing chain.
“With the intelligence of the default technology and process technology, I can teach ESPRIT to program features how I want them programmed,” Burns says. “These tools within the KnowledgeBase allow the user to forget about the mundane tasks when programming and gives him or her the time needed to focus on the intricacies of the part.”
“When we selected the Mori Seiki, one of the reasons was that it supported our CAM system.”
Chuck Berg, Chief Operations Officer
BEXXT achieves silmutaneous 5-axis trochoidal roughing and finishing with ESPRIT ProfitMilling
With a new Mori Seiki NT 4250 and no margin for error, Command Tooling Systems of Ramsey, Minnesota, harnessed the multi-tasking capabilities of ESPRIT as it embarked upon its technological and time-saving venture.
“When we selected the Mori Seiki, one of the reasons was that it supported our CAM system,” said Chuck Berg, chief operations officer at Command Tooling Systems. “It was important to me that we had something that we would be able to program.
“Already being an ESPRIT customer, it was really a powerful advantage in having the software built into the control of the machine. That was very attractive to us.”
The seamless interaction between software and machine tool also proved attractive to the company.
“You don’t have to mess with any adjustments out on the machine, and that saves a lot of time,” said Mike Petersen, production manager at Command Tooling Systems. “When you’re creating your own post, it takes hours and hours, so having a proven post makes life a lot easier.”
Watch the video to learn more about Command Tooling Systems and its experience with ESPRIT and the Mori Seiki NT 4250.
“People don’t just consider themselves lucky to get quality. It’s an expectation.”
— John Dickes, Manufacturing Engineering Manager
Mate Precision Tooling Meets Changing Demands With ESPRIT
As a long-time ESPRIT customer, Minnesota-based Mate Precision Tooling has grown right along with the software it adopted more than two decades ago.
In the early years, says Senior Manufacturing Engineer Steve Thomson, the now 50-year-old shop used standard 2-axis lathes and 2-axis mills, which “became a lot of work-in-process at all the individual steps.” With ESPRIT, the company embraced multi-tasking machine tools and can now “put bar stock in, take a completed part out,” with completed milled and turned features.
“ESPRIT is great in that it helps with mill-turn machines,” Thomson says. “The post processors can handle that, and they [DP Technology] have factory representation for post processor development … it really has been a great support system for us.”
Manufacturing Engineer Tom Kill has programmed with ESPRIT at Mate for over 20 years. The company acquired the software in 1993, when Mate began automating some of its wire EDM machining processes.
“Through that development, we’re able to automate punches, dies and strippers with variable shapes and variable sizes,” Kill says, “and we’re also able to also automate it with ESPRIT’s support and guidance.”
Throughout the years, Mate has maximized its use of ESPRIT to remain competitive and fully utilize rapidly evolving complex machinery. “The new machine technology has required that we step up our game as far as how we manufacture, what types of equipment we use to manufacture,” Dickes says. “ESPRIT has been very helpful in matching what we require to keep going forward.”
Watch the video to learn more about Mate Precision Tooling and its experience with ESPRIT.
“With ESPRIT, it’s two to three mouse clicks instead of hundreds of clicks.”
— Nathan Ellinger, CNC Programmer
Precision Machine Shop Single Source Stays on Top With ESPRIT
Single Source is all about precision, which means that nothing produced there can be grabbed “off the rack.”
“We work closely with customers to develop products that work for them,” says Nathan Ellinger, a programmer for the company, based in North Liberty, Ind.
Founded in 2001 by Tom Moore and Greg Singleton, who boast 60 years of combined experience in the machining industry, Single Source manufactures implants and instrumentation for the medical industry, and fixtures and tooling for the automotive industry.
“We like to lead with quality, and quality is everything,” Singleton says. “We see that the industry is changing and, considering the competition and economy, we have to find ways to set ourselves apart from the competition.”
Finding a Need and Filling It
In response to the increasingly complex demands of customers, Single Source, which had heretofore not ventured into the mill-turn realm, acquired a Mori Seiki NT-1000 multi-tasking machine. The combination of complex machinery and ESPRIT helps the company deliver complex parts at competitive prices.
“Quality always has to be No. 1, but everyone also wants their parts made faster and less expensively,” says Moore, adding that Single Source takes pride in delivering quality parts and delivering those parts on time. “In our business, it’s imperative that you continue to take care of customer needs as time goes on. What we create is real value — and if our pricing’s not right, we won’t even get a shot at the job.”
Ellinger was given the task of mastering ESPRIT to drive the powerful new Mori Seiki machine tool.
“With the new multi-tasking machine, that seven-setup job is now a one-setup job,” Ellinger says. “That’s one example of how the machine has made manufacturing easier, and ESPRIT has played a huge part in that.”
“We can grab whatever machine we like when we go to a machine-tool show, and we know right away that programming is not a concern. We know we can do that.”
— Nate Price, Lead CNC Programmer
Firefighting Gear Manufacturer Programs for Success with ESPRIT
When your house is going up in flames, the last thing on your mind is whether the local hero’s firefighting equipment will do its job — and that’s exactly the way it should be.
At Task Force Tips — an Indiana-based manufacturer of fire-hose nozzles — the last thing on the minds of the men making its innovative gear should be whether their computer-aided-manufacturing (CAM) software will do its job.
That’s also exactly the way it should be.
Task Force Tips has a total of about 180 staff in Valparaiso, Ind., where it produces firefighting equipment that controls water flow. It makes hose nozzles that automatically adjust to varying water pressure in hose lines, as well as valves and other equipment. As a self-contained business, Task Force Tips includes an internally-fed assembly department.
“We do a lot of little things on the fly, where we design it, write the program and machine it all in one day,” says Nathan Price, Lead CNC programmer at Task Force Tips, who began his career with the company over a decade ago.
In the End, It’s All About Saving Time
To make the main body of a portable monitor (a device used when water pressure is too strong to hold a hose by hand) in the past, the part had to be loaded onto a machine tool four separate times, which meant “scheduling the workload on the floor for a month before the part went out the door,” Price says.
By integrating ESPRIT and one of its new multi-tasking machines, Task Force Tips was able to cut down on machining time by streamlining processes and gained a 63 percent reduction in the time required to machine the part.
“Now we load it into a machine one time and it’s completed,” Price says. “Before, the handling time on the part was an hour. It’s now 22 minutes. It was one of those things where you can just do a couple of clicks in ESPRIT and have the whole thing programmed.”
“ESPRIT’s propagation features, knowledge-base strategies & clean post processors make it simple to run my five different controls unattended.”
— Jay Crumb, EDM Specialist
Maximizing Unattended Machining with ESPRIT CAM
With manufacturing services that range from wire and plunge EDM to CNC and manual machining, sheet metal fabricating and plastics forming to cable assemblies and wire harnesses to rapid prototyping, painting, product development and engineering design and assembly, the can-dos of Astro Manufacturing & Design read like a laundry list.
And with customers like Lockheed Martin, Johnson & Johnson, General Electric and Philips Healthcare, to name a few, the company — which works primarily within the aerospace, medical and military industries — certainly doesn’t need better endorsements.
There was a time, however, when it was in need of better CNC programming software.
A Day in the Life
During a typical day on the job, Jay Crumb – EDM specialist for Astro – runs two of his EDM machines while preparing the other five for overnight, unattended burns. A standard lot size is one to 50 parts with dimensions ranging from .250” X .250” X .100” to 13” X 18” X13,” and holding tolerances of plus or minus .0002.
Though Astro purchased ESPRIT primarily for those 4-axis capabilities and the strength of its post processors, over the years it has taken advantage of upgrades built into the software to increase efficiency and automate where possible to remain competitive.
One Fire You Don’t Want to Put Out
Crumb is expected to maintain a minimum of 3.5 machine hours to every one EDM-employee work hour. “This is accomplished by grouping different parts into one machining cycle and making multiple work coordinates of the same part without a stop,” Crumb says. “This increases unattended burn time.”
Crumb is currently working with several different types of controls, a process made seamless by ESPRIT’s post processors. “I have five different controls right now on the floor and all the posts are right out of the box,” he says.
“ESPRIT ProfitMilling saves us a great amount of time on any of our roughing. We can do full depth of cut, have longer tool life, just overall be more efficient and productive.”
— Hung Tran, Shop manager and Programmer
BEXXT achieves silmutaneous 5-axis trochoidal roughing and finishing with ESPRIT ProfitMilling
Nestled in an unassuming building in the manufacturing hub of Houston, Texas, machining powerhouse Bexxt, LLC provides precision services to some of the leading industry providers of energy, aerospace, and control-flow systems.
“We have a very wide knowledge of programming and machining,” says Stefan Barcik, shop coordinator. “We are able to provide a very deep knowledge of manufacturing and help our customers with any type of manufacturing process issues that they have.”
Bexxt acquired ESPRIT in early 2012 to power its wide array of complex machinery, including a Mazak Integrex e-650, a set of Mazak Quick Turns, and a Mazak vertical mill, among others. “Some of the problems that we run into for programming for a precision machine shop are that we have to protect our investments, which is the machine tools,” says Hung Tran, shop manager and programmer. “With ESPRIT’s collision detection and all the features that ESPRIT has built in, we are able to do that.”
Tran also finds ESPRIT’s interface and ease of use a cut above the rest.
“The visuals alone on ESPRIT set it apart from other CAM systems because it’s so vibrant and so clear as opposed to the interface of a lot of other software. It makes it much more intuitive and easy to use for the end user.”
“We got our first seat of ESPRIT whenever we outgrew our first CAM system. That’s taken us to a completely different level.”
— Justin Doyle, Programmer
Padgett Machine Tools Cuts Machining Time with ESPRIT ProfitMilling
Padgett Machine Tools of Gatesville, Texas, was no stranger to success by the time it had outgrown its first CAM package and sought to widen its sphere of influence by embracing the broader programming capabilities of ESPRIT.
With ESPRIT in its already capable hands, the 10-year-old company that primarily serves the oil, gas and hydraulics industries was skyrocketed to a higher level of performance.
“We got our first seat of ESPRIT whenever we outgrew our first CAM system,” says Programmer Justin Doyle. “That’s taken us to a completely different level.”
For Padgett Machine Tools, reaching that new level of productivity included embracing the ProfitMilling technology within ESPRIT. The software’s patent-pending ProfitMilling strategy for 2-, 3- and 5-axis roughing cycles allows customers to remove more material in a shorter period of time.
Using advanced technology, the ProfitMilling strategy optimizes engagement angle, chip load, material removal rate, lateral cutter force and machine acceleration to achieve optimal results.
This innovative machining cycle represents the “best of both worlds” by utilizing trochoidal tool motion and a traditional offset of the toolpath, allowing usage of the full tool flute length.
“With ProfitMilling combining all the different types of cycles, you can give yourself tighter tolerances to work with because there’s less cutting forces involved. It’s a strictly win-win situation,” Doyle says.
“ProfitMilling will work in just about every situation. The one factor that I really was excited about was actually taking my older programs and making them more efficient. In this business there’s really only two ways to increase your bottom line: You can either cut spending, or you can become more efficient.”
SWISS STYLE “ESPRIT has helped us use our machines to make parts they’re designed to make.”
— David Green, Programmer & Manufacturing Engineer
FMI-Hansa Medical Products Maximizes its Machinery with ESPRIT
Founded in 1999, FMI-Hansa Medical Products programmed parts at the machine control until it realized that it was unable to maximize the potential of the increasingly complex machines it acquired. In 2009, the company purchased ESPRIT to program its Mazak mill-turn and Citizen Swiss-turn machines.
“For a long time, we were just typing in programs, but as the complexity of the parts started to grow with the company, we needed something that could program multi-tasking machines, and that was ESPRIT,” says David Green, programmer and manufacturing engineer for FMI-Hansa.
“We now have software that generates complex toolpath and can use existing geometry or surfaces to output correct code so that nothing has to be manually calculated.”
The company serves a body of 50-plus customers who represent a range of one-time to repeat business and lot sizes of 25 to 1,000 pieces. To keep the gears of this well-oiled machine turning, it’s crucial to get jobs right the first time by maximizing the technology that drives it.
“We’re trying to achieve on-time delivery for each customer and a superior quality of parts,” Green says. “We have to have perfect setups, perfect programs and a good flow of products as a company.”
Because machines and software — and a powerful combination of the two — are capable of machining increasingly complex parts with tight tolerances, designers are designing parts with that increased capacity in mind.
“ESPRIT has helped us use our machines to make parts they’re designed to make,” Green says, “and the simulation allows us to see what it’s going to do before it goes to the machine.”
Green credits the company’s choice of software for giving FMI-Hansa an edge in a competitive market. “Knowing that our program is done and correct before it goes to the machine gives us an advantage in accomplishing faster set-up times and product versatility,” he says.
With those increasingly complex parts coming down the pipeline, being ahead of the game is all about versatility and taking full advantage of the tools at your disposal.
“We require plenty of automation, and that’s why ESPRIT has been good for us.”
— Dan Westwood, Methods Department Supervisor
Working Round the Clock
Three shifts, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That’s a day in the life at Hoerbiger Corporation of America, where 100 new jobs — each requiring programs and routers — hit the floor each day.
With roughly 800 daily jobs and just four programmers, the team at Hoerbiger hasn’t the luxury of time to spare. “We require plenty of automation, and that’s why ESPRIT has been good for us,” says Dan Westwood, methods department supervisor at Hoerbiger.
Hoerbiger approaches its programming duties in three different ways: Some of its parts require manual programs, while others are designated for “semi-automatic” programs and still others are slated for “fully automatic” programs.
“Sometimes, when we do have a solid model available, I can just take the solid model into ESPRIT and run the KB (KnowledgeBase™) manager,” says CNC Programmer Mark Grecko. “It will recognize all the holes, apply the processes and create the program in two or three minutes.”
Working on the Fly
“At Hoerbiger, ESPRIT is used off the shelf, where we bring in solid models or create geometry there in the software, and have a programmer create everything on the fly,” says Westwood, who adds that the company has designated “product families” of similar parts for which automation is ideal.
To do so, the team at Hoerbiger uses automation tools like the ESPRIT KnowledgeBase and API (application programming interface).
Automation at Work
“We’ve also spent some time developing fully-automated programming systems for our main product lines, where we can use the API and Visual Basic programming and actually not have a person run ESPRIT, but have a piece of software run ESPRIT,” Westwood says.
This automation allows Hoerbiger to feed ESPRIT a list of part numbers so that the software can run unattended, creating programs without any user interaction at all.
“Over my long history of working in this machining and manufacturing environment, I’ve used lots of pieces of software,” Westwood says. “There are only a few that can really handle multi-axis machines, multi-tasking machines and B-axis machines with part transfers. ESPRIT is very good at it and once you get into that sort of machining, it really narrows down the field of pieces of software that will do the job for you.”
“We have to have a CAM system that can generate code correctly the first time — and that’s ESPRIT.”
— Bob O’Rell, CNC Programmer / Machinist
Vanderhorst Brothers, Inc., Achieves Lights-Out Manufacturing with the Right CAM
Automation is the name of the game when it comes to upping the efficiency quotient at Vanderhorst Brothers, Inc., a high-precision job shop that runs like a well-oiled machine in part because of, well, its well-oiled machines.
At Vanderhorst, where the goal is to implement and manage “lights-out manufacturing,” the ability to automate large jobs is easier with the right tools and ESPRIT CAM.
If Vanderhorst were an amusement park, a major attraction would be its 42-pallet Toyoda cell: two horizontal 4-axis mills, each equipped with 494 tools. The idea is to make tooling changes quickly and accurately, and to save individual jobs to specific pallets.
One major employee on Vanderhorst’s “night shift” is a 5-axis Matsuura equipped with 240 cutting tools and 32 pallets for multiple jobs. The thing is a beast, and an impressive one at that. Though it comprises Vanderhorst’s night staff, the beast actually runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The Night Shift
In the case of a complex manifold currently being made on the night shift, Bob O’Rell, CNC programmer and machinist, copied all operations and the solid model into ESPRIT in about three days when he switched from the left-hand to the right-hand part configuration — impressive for a part with 1,400 dimensions on its drawing.
When Vanderhorst began making the manifold in ESPRIT, it was able to fully maximize the 5-axis Matsuura and the CAM software to reduce machining setups from eight to three. This was facilitated by ESPRIT’s multi-axis programming capability.
“With the ESPRIT KnowledgeBase™, tasks that used to take hours are now automatic.”
— Daniel Parry, Manufacturing Engineering Technician Specialist
ESPRIT CAM Reduces Programming, Setup and Machining Time
Headquartered in Green Bay, Wis., ESPRIT® user Paper Converting Machine Company, or PCMC, designs and manufactures converting machinery for the tissue, flexible packaging and disposable nonwovens industries.
It also manufactures a complete line of wide-web flexographic printing systems, coating and laminating machines, and narrow-web in-line printing systems. PCMC currently operates seven facilities in the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Brazil and Japan, and employs over 1,500 people worldwide.
When PCMC decided to upgrade to the latest 3D CNC programming technology, it chose ESPRIT in part because of its advanced knowledge-based machining capabilities.
Automating Best Machining Practices
“The knowledge-base features of the new software have substantially reduced programming time,” said Daniel Parry, manufacturing engineering technician specialist for PCMC. “Setup time is reduced because of our ability to verify the program in the software. Finally, the ability to optimize and standardize machining processes has resulted in machining-time reductions.”
PCMC has taken full advantage of the capabilities of ESPRIT to develop a CNC programming process that achieves the elements that are important to the organization.
Programming Made Easy
When a programmer creates a new CNC program, he can simply drag and drop machining operations from the library rather than creating them from scratch. In addition, programmers have worked to maintain the library by modifying operations based on feedback from machine operators and other sources. As a result, the library has become optimized as the knowledge of programmers, engineers and operators has become embedded within it.
“With the ESPRIT KnowledgeBase™, programmers and operators will benefit from consistency in all aspects of what it takes to machine a part,” Parry said. “Tasks that used to take hours – like creating features on a model or deciding which tooling to use – are now automatic.”