June 30, 2015 by Longterm Technology Services
Jun. 26, 2015 – From prototyping to complete automation solutions, Armo-Tool Ltd. (Armo Tool) complements a company’s development team with its generations of tool making tradecraft. For more than 40 years, Armo Tool has been building long-term relationships with manufacturing companies throughout North America by helping these companies bring new products to market, improve production processes, and repurpose their machinery and equipment. Clients rely on Armo Tool to solve their machining, tool and automation problems, and help them get innovative ideas to market.
Armo Tool started as a precision grinding and coating shop and quickly grew in several areas, including progressive and transfer stamping dies, tooling and automation, particularly for the automotive industry. The company specializes in automation for small diameter tubes.
Armo Tool has been using NX software from product lifecycle management (PLM) specialist Siemens PLM Software for die design for a number of years.
“Using NX CAD (computer-aided design) software, we keep tooling costs down by ensuring the minimum number of stations is used to make each part,” notes Ben Whitney, president of Armo Tool. “Our precision is second-to none. Our cutting clearances are up by six-tenths of a thousandth on cutting sections.”
With a philosophy of proactive continuous improvement, the company recognized an opportunity in its computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) environment.
Photos courtesy Andrei Calinescu of Dre Cali Photo & Design
Programming complex geometry
Armo Tool had a number of limitations with its previous CAM software, especially when attempting to program complex geometry or working with both 2D and 3D CAD files. There were also issues with specifying proper geometry for components developed and provided by the customer. There, the decision was made to implement NX CAM to take advantage of solids-based programming.
Jozef Mucha, CAM program leader at Armo Tool, explains, “Switching to NX CAM solved a lot of issues relative to manufacturing. With our previous software, we had to maintain two libraries, one for 2D and one for 3D, and that was becoming very difficult to do. Another benefit of using NX is that the tool library isn’t stored by user or computer, but rather on the network. If the programming team decides to change the speeds and feeds for a particular cutter, they are changed team-wide. Using NX, we can accomplish anything we want to do. In addition, NX gives us exposure to continuous, stable 5-axis machining.”
Longterm Technology Services Inc., a Siemens Channel partner, conducted a two-day training class specifically addressing feature-based modeling.
“The one-on-one training session was exceptionally productive. Customized training materials tailored to our data helped us quickly take full advantage of NX CAM to solve any issues we might encounter,” says Mucha.
Whitney adds, “Without changing our CAD procedures, the feature-based capabilities of NX CAM recognizes about 90 per cent of existing model features. That makes us happy. I think once we are able to use the full capabilities of NX CAM, we’ll realize substantial operational efficiencies.”
Armo Tool can now set up on a “tombstone” operation with multiple, different kinds of blocks using a full 3D model. Using its prior system, this simply wasn’t possible.
Whitney explains, “You have to be very careful not to crash the spindle into block two when it’s going around block one. With NX CAM, we can readily perform the more rigorous 3D modeling that we’re setting up; we’ve been quite productive when doing that type of machining.”
Adds Mucha, “We can now simulate everything we cut, all residing in one assembly. We can see how components interact while the software does a gouge check on one component against adjacent components.”
The company continues to increase its strengths with the expanded use of NX, including bolstering its stamping design operations and taking on new, larger, and more complex 3D forms.
Whitney notes, “Our power in terms of speed, quality and competitiveness with which can do large forms has really grown over the last year. For some companies, machining is how they get work. For us, it’s always been design and innovation that largely drives new business. We’ve always had a first-class deliverable. Now, with NX, we’ve moved into the domain of world-class CNC machining.”