Essex based BTL Precision has now extended its investment in CAM software with even more seats of the hyperMILL CAM package from OPEN MIND Technologies. Serving key industry sectors such as the Military, Aerospace, Pharmaceutical, Petro-Chemical and Automotive; BTL has made considerable investment in top-end milling and turning machinery and it uses many of the world’s most sophisticated and advanced machine tools to ensure extreme precision and absolute tolerances in all components manufactured.
To drive such high-end machine tools, the company would settle for nothing but the best CAM system on the market, OPEN MIND's hyperMILL. As BTL Precision's Production Engineer, Mr Kevin Glassbrook says: 'We have invested in hyperMILL because it enables us to schedule to circumstances or if we have to turn a job around rapidly, it allows us to utilise the full range of machines that we have available. We have a suite of hyperMILL that can post to all our machines regardless of whether they are Heidenhain or Fanuc controlled. Previously, changing jobs from one machine to another used to be an extensive task, but with hyperMILL its now easily achieved.'
With regards to developing programs, Mr Glassbrook says: 'With OPEN MIND, the package is very user friendly and easy to use. We have set up an extensive library of tooling that we use within the company, so when we bring in new jobs it's very easy to rapidly start cutting metal. Most companies now give us a model, so we check it through to make sure it suits our purposes. Then using the stock removal cycles, it's very easy to start cutting metal.'
With regard to support, the Bishop Stortford company is assured by the fact that OPEN MIND Engineers can remotely access the company's work to resolve any issues. As Mr Glassbrook says: 'The remote support is very good, but so are the built-in features, so it's very rare that we have jobs that we can't get the hyperMILL package to do. But it's very re-assuring knowing that someone is on the end of the phone to provide help if we have an issue with an urgent job.'
Comparing hyperMILL to alternate CAM packages, Mr Glass brook says: 'I have extensive experience with a number of CAM systems from other vendors and I find that hyperMILL is very quick in comparison. Getting to the stage of cutting metal from the initial drawing is far quicker than anything else.'
The BTL Precision shop floor is packed with high-end 5-axis machining centres and when asked if hyperMILL would be as suitable for less capable 3-axis machines, Mr Glassbrook said: 'For sure we would use hyperMILL on less capable machines. Some of the innovative cycles within hyperMILL are allowing you to do the type of machining you would do on a more advanced machine. We have a lot of cycles that we do on 3-axis machines that allows us to prepare jobs for our more complex machines. By combining the arbitrary and plunging roughing cycles in hyperMILL, we can get much closer to the stock level we require. This reduces the time spent on our more expensive to run 5-axis machines.'
Concerning the cost of such a CAM system: 'Certainly the fact you can build on the system as modules is a huge benefit. When we went over to hyperMILL, we didn't know about all the licences we would eventually require, but because of the support we have, OPEN MIND has lent us packages that we have later acquired for us to keep ahead of our workload. If we didn't have hyperMILL, we would be several weeks behind with our work and we wouldn't have the time to speak with MTD,' jokes Mr Glassbrook.