Quality Magazine

Case Studies: Streamlined Design

March 30, 2009
A maker of impellers upgrades its CAD/CAM system, expediting its manufacturing process while improving profits.

Like the little Dutch boy who stopped the leaking dam, it is sometimes the most obvious of actions that save the day. Ramix (Dedemsvaart, the Netherlands) faced daily challenges designing impellers and molds while its sister company, Romit (Dedemsvaart, the Netherlands), was responsible for the machining. Because of shortcomings in its existing computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) systems, Ramix and Romit were forced to outsource a lot of work, which resulted in reduced profits. The companies needed a solution to keep the work in-house that would go beyond just putting a finger in the dam. They needed to fix the problem.

Making It in the Impeller Market

After considering a number of solutions, the companies chose VX CAD/CAM from VX Corp. (Melbourne, FL). Romit had been trying to expand into the impeller market but it was a struggle; its old system simply could not handle the complexity.

“We were amazed at how the tools in VX worked,” says Ramix-Romit Director Auke Sjoerd Tolsma. “Customers would send difficult 2-D drawings and it was easy to quickly construct 3-D parts and get them on the mill. This opened the door to modeling and machining impellers.”

Romit often gets no more than a table of coordinates in radials for the complex 3-D form of an impeller. The company will use a spreadsheet to calculate the coordinates and import them into VX, where the wireframe and surface modeling tools take over. “It takes us more time to import and convert the data in our spreadsheet than it does to model an impeller,” says Tolsma.

Machining the impellers is done with VX CAM using up to five-axis milling. “After the introduction of VX CAD/CAM, we have increased our machining hourly rate by more than 20%,” says Tolsma.

Expediting Production

Ramix realized valuable time was being wasted from modeling to mold making. The company needed an integrated, automated solution to expedite the process. “VX’s associativity is a powerful and reliable tool,” says Tolsma, “and that played a big role in our decision to purchase VX software.” Ramix rarely needs 2-D drawings because of the seamless integration. They simply send VX CAD models directly to VX CAM.

“After building up the mold, no time-consuming drafting is wasted before parts can go into production,” says Tolsma. “The parts list is filled in using the assembly manager. In the shop, no time is wasted on punching in the dimensions of pockets or coordinates of holes into the machine. Milling the parts with VX CAM saved us several days of machining time.” The payback has been enormous and the return on investment was just a few months, not years.

VX’s open shape/hybrid modeling is another important contribution to Ramix. “As a mold maker we get all kinds of files to work with,” says Tolsma. “Often we receive bad IGES [initial graphics exchange specification] files where surfaces don’t connect, overlap or are missing completely. Despite these errors, we quickly make good working mold parts without healing the imported file to a solid model. We even help customers improve the design during the construction process.”

Ramix finds that all of VX’s inspection tools work well with solids and open surface models, allowing them to inspect cooling channel clearances. In keeping with this open shape approach, VX Quickmill does not differentiate between surface and solids, which makes it easy to identify the regions that were changed by the customer for re-machining.

Before any metal is cut, VX can do a full simulation of all movements of complex molds. This shows the customer how the mold construction will be realized. Ramix uses the freeform tools of VX to calculate and design parting lines and faces for complex molds.

Now the orders and machines are humming along at Ramix and Romit with the help of VX, and e’very computer numerical control (CNC)-machine has a shield reading, “This Machine is Powered by VX.”
    VX Corp.
    (321) 309-1006
    www.vx.com


Benefits

  • After the introduction of VX CAD/CAM, Romit increased its machining hourly rate by more than 20%.

  • Ramix finds that all of VX’s inspection tools work well with solids and open surface models, making it easy to identify the regions that were changed by the customer for re-machining.

  • VX’s open shape/hybrid modeling allows Ramix to easily mill good parts from files that contain errors.