German toolmaker Lahnwerk GmbH has invested in new high-speed mills and five-axis machining centres, plus Delcam’s PowerMILL CAM software. The outcome has been greatly improved surface quality and reduced manufacturing times.
Lahnwerk, which employs 140 staff in Hessian Biedenkopf, specialises in the design and production of casting equipment, including patterns, dies and moulds, predominantly for cast metal components for cars and utility vehicles. Since its establishment over 60 years ago, the company has developed into a full-service provider with a continuous process chain from 3D design right through to manufacturing, assembly and sample production in-house. The milling area alone encompasses 25 CNC machines, including the latest C40 and C50 five-axis machines from Hermle, plus a three-axis RXP 1200 from Röders.
Twenty-three engineers design the casting equipment in 3D, using CATIA, Creo Elements and NX software. Programming with PowerMILL takes place both in the office and on CAM workstations located directly adjacent to the machines. 'NC programming by our highly-trained machine operators in close proximity to the machines gives us the maximum flexibility. ' explained Burkhard Dersch, Operations Manager at Lahnwerk.
'The decision start using a new CAM system was not an easy one for us,' conceded Mr. Dersch 'However, the results are extremely impressive and we are delighted, therefore, that we are programming the new machines with PowerMILL. The parts that our customers produce are becoming increasingly challenging. This has an effect not only on the tool construction but also on the complexity of the moulding surfaces. Today, we mill extremely complex surface forms in a time and to a quality that we would never have dreamed of previously.'
The machine-tool suppliers influenced the choice of CAM system, explained Mr. Dersch. 'At Röders in Soltau, the high-speed machining demonstrations were programmed with PowerMILL and produced a surface quality that truly impressed us,' he remembered. The decision in favour of the Delcam software was reinforced by the move to five-axis machining because a recommendation to use Delcam also came from Hermle.
Wolfgang Autschbach, Founder and Managing Director of Aura Frästechnik GmbH, also supported the choice of PowerMILL for high-end milling. Aura, based in nearby Breidenbach, specialises in the production and sale of high-quality milling tools, drills and clamping devices for the construction of tools and moulds, which are used at Lahnwerk. The company tests its tools in an in-house milling laboratory, using Röders machines programmed with PowerMILL, testing its tools to the limit of their performance capability before delivering them to the customer.
On top of the benefits of five-axis machining, Daniel Werner, Head of Mechanical Production at Lahnwerk, has been impressed with the ability of PowerMILL to handle very large file sizes. These can grow to the two-digit gigabyte range when working with complex surfaces, yet the Delcam software processes them without difficulty.
Less spectacular, yet equally vital to the everyday production processes at Lahnwerk, are the drilling operations. PowerMILL supports fully simultaneous five-axis drilling, which Lahnwerk would now never wish to be without. 'With just a few clicks, I can recognise the drill holes and can start programming immediately,' Daniel Werner explained.