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Delcams FeatureCAM reduces programming times for Bemis Manufacturing
Delcams FeatureCAM reduces programming times for Bemis Manufacturing

Delcams FeatureCAM reduces programming times for Bemis Manufacturing

Added to MTDCNC by AUTODESK on 14 August 2015

‘’Delcam’s FeatureCAM has substantially reduced the time required to create our typical program” claimed Danny Littlejohn, machinist at Bemis Manufacturing. ''Key advantages of FeatureCAM include its ability to import solid models from CAD software, to identify features in the model automatically, and to store common machining operations so that they can be applied to the part geometry with a few clicks.’’


Bemis Manufacturing, based in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin, is the largest manufacturer of toilet seats in the world and a leading producer of healthcare products, custom plastic products and precision plastic parts.  The family-owned company also manufactures outdoor and indoor furniture, and a host of various contracted extrusion and injection-moulded plastic parts for companies such as John Deere and Whirlpool Corporation.  It is a pioneer of co-injection moulding, a process in which virgin resin is injected with recycled plastic. 


Bemis Manufacturing has a small machine shop that is primarily kept busy building tooling for the company’s plastic extrusion and injection moulding operations.  The CNC software used in the past to generate programs for producing these tools was difficult and time-consuming to use, taking about eight hours to produce the typical program, according to Mr. Littlejohn. 


‘’In the past, I used a 2.5D software package that was not able to import solid models or to machine contoured surfaces.  This meant that there was a large class of parts that it was unable to produce CNC programs for at all’’ Mr. Littlejohn said.  ‘’Programming was a long and drawn-out process, which wasn’t helped by the fact that the old software was not very intuitive to use.’’


Mr. Littlejohn had worked with FeatureCAM feature-based CAM programming at a previous employer and found the software to be powerful and easy to use.  ‘’Perhaps FeatureCAM’s neatest feature is its ability to import a solid model and then recognise automatically all of the features in the model and organise them for easy creation of toolpaths,’’ he said. 


As an example, the machine shop was recently asked to build replacement left- and right-hand end-of-arm tooling for a robot used to automate an injection moulding operation.  After importing the Pro/ENGINEER model for the part into FeatureCAM, Mr. Littlejohn discovered that the solid model did not exactly represent the design intent.  He made some changes within FeatureCAM, creating several new surfaces and blending them into the existing geometry.  He also changed the diameters and depths of several holes.  The part was to be made of UHMW plastic and the only stock available was four inches diameter round so Mr. Littlejohn defined that stock shape in FeatureCAM and manipulated the part inside the stock to make sure it would fit.


 ‘’We couldn’t have produced these parts using our previous CNC programming software because it was unable to program 3D surface milling operations,’’ Mr. Littlejohn said.  ‘’Even if it could have done those operations, it would have taken at least eight hours to program the part.  FeatureCAM, on the other hand, made it possible to program both left and right hand versions completely in just two hours.  The ability to import solid geometry and recognise features makes the CNC programming process nearly seamless, while the ability to simulate individual operations as well as the complete part has virtually eliminated errors and crashes.’’  


‘’The key to our success with the software is that FeatureCAM is very intuitive.  We have also received excellent technical support from Automated Solutions Inc., the FeatureCAM integrator from whom we purchased the software.’’

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