Original Date: 06/05/2006
Revision Date: / /
Best Practice : Programming with VERICUT to Reduce CNC Setup
Rockwell Collins implemented the off-the-shelf VERICUT solid-model-based machining simulation software that downloads data directly from the company’s Unigraphics mechanical design software. The simulation software enables Rockwell Collins to do virtual verification of machine tool paths and programming accuracy and compare the virtual part result to the as-designed part, which has helped reduce programming and inspection time and prevent machine crashes and costly damage to equipment.
Verification of new computer numerical control (CNC) machining programs was a costly and time-consuming task in the Rockwell Collins fabrication manufacturing area before the implementation of a simulation software tool. Due to the variation created by both manual programming and computer-aided-manufacturing data translation from the Unigraphics solid model mechanical design software, Rockwell Collins had adopted a standard operating procedure of dry runs or first runs in wax to conserve raw material and prevent costly damage to machine tools and spindles resulting from high-speed crashes. During this verification step, machining equipment was not usable for production, effectively decreasing the capacity of the fabrication area to produce both sellable products and engineering prototypes. In addition, 100% inspection after each machining process was standard practice as a result of these upfront sources of errors and variation. To reduce these inefficiencies, Rockwell Collins implemented a simulation tool that would seamlessly integrate design data with CNC machine programming data and provide off- line virtual verification within a software environment before the first machining setup of a new prototype or product.
Rockwell Collins chose to add the VERICUT simulation package as part of its standard transition to production procedures for the fabrication manufacturing area. The software downloads solid model and tool path data created in the Unigraphics design software and simulates all of the machining operations in order as programmed by the Rockwell Collins industrial engineer. As the simulation runs, the software automatically identifies and highlights tool crash points, allowing the engineer to make any corrections to the tool path programming within the virtual environment. Once the simulation has been created and executed, the engineer can import the as-designed solid model to overlay on top of the simulation result model for direct comparison. Rockwell Collins has used this capability to create rapid and effective feedback from the manufacturing floor to the designer without a single machine setup or piece of metal stock being cut. The virtual environment of the simulation software also enables an estimate of machining run-time and cost, providing increased resolution to the cost and scheduling of the company’s fabrication resources and products.
As a result of implementing the VERICUT machining simulation software tool in its fabrication manufacturing area, Rockwell Collins has reduced the time required to verify new CNC programs by 50% and has eliminated 100% inspection of finished products. Inspection is now done only on first articles. Tool path confirmation times have been reduced from an average of 30 minutes to less than 10 minutes per program. Rockwell Collins has effectively eliminated the upfront variability in the transition of new products from design to production in the fabrication manufacturing area, eliminating or reducing many of the costly operating procedures they had adopted to account for and protect against the effects of this variability.
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