The path to setting up a subcontract machine shop couldn't have been more obscure than the tale of Ben Goodwin. Three years ago Ben was well remunerated for his dangerous skills as a deep sea welder and fabricator, but realising the danger and relatively short life expectancy, Ben quit the day job, bought a machining centre and set up BRG Developments.
With little experience in a machine shop, the odds were stacked against Ben, who at the young age of 25 went out and bought a Hurco 3-axis VM10 machining centre and a suite of low-end CAM software. Taken on a massive learning curve, the small business owner is now making a huge success of his business venture and this is credit to Ben's vision, drive and also the subsequent help of OPEN MIND CAM software. As Ben explains: "I bought the Hurco and a 3-axis CAM package and even with my limited machining knowledge at that time, I quickly realised the first CAM Package I bought was holding me back. The 3-axis software was slow, laborious and despite my limited experience, I was getting frustrated with the tool paths. I needed to upgrade and hyperMILL® was the only long-term choice for my business."
hyperMILL Is the 1st Choice for Ambitious 3-axis Machinists..
As an extremely ambitious business owner, Ben has his sights set upon building major success and OPEN MIND's hyperMILL® software is a core aspect of this vision. As Ben continues: "Realising the previous CAM software was unsuitable, I did my homework on the vendors, watched YouTube videos and eventually bought a seat of hyperMILL® at MACH 2014. hyperMILL® is the most capable, user friendly and prestigious 5-axis CAM package available; so finding it very competitively priced was another huge bonus."
The ambition and vision of BRG's owner is evident in his software selection, opting for the leading 5-axis CAM package when only having a 3-axis machine. Alluding to this, Ben says: "Despite only having a 3-axis VMC, our business has huge ambition and we will be moving to 5-axis machining in the near future. When we get there, we will be prepared with experience on the leading 5-axis CAM package, which will reduce our learning curve. In addition, hyperMILL is a modular package, so we can add what we need as we progress."
The Learning Curve
When the Lloyd’s Register ISO: 9001 registered BRG was set-up, Ben had no concept of M or G-codes on a CNC machine, diving straight into machining with CAM software. Ben remarkably still has little understanding of conversational programming. As Ben continues: "Our very first job was machining and drilling simple side-step plates for ambulances, but my ambition was to progress to high value added complex work. We are now realising this reality by machining complicated automotive mould tools, aerospace engine components and even intricate medical parts. None of this would have been possible without hyperMILL®. I see conversational programming as something for producing simple parts or as a learning suite for apprentices whilst hyperMILL® is the marquee package for producing everything from simple 3-axis to full 5-axis parts."
Justifying the 5-axis Package for a 3-axis Machine
The selection of hyperMILL® by the Market Weighton based company is more than just ambition. As Ben continues: "Our selection of hyperMILL® is justified in the results from the first couple of jobs we did with the package. One of our first hyperMILL® jobs was to produce a trophy for the 'Best-in-Britain' Hot-Rod competition. The complicated trophy had a programming time of 4 days with a machining time of 29 hours with our previous CAM suite. With hyperMILL® the programming times were slashed to 2 hours 30 minutes and just 9 hours for the machining using the same tools."
"On a family of P20 steel automotive mould tools for water-pump parts, we cut programming times from four hours to just 20 minutes. The machining time was previously 9 hours for each of the four tools (36 hours total) and the tool paths of hyperMILL allowed us to machine all four tools in just 1 hour 40 minutes. We realised the previous CAM package was limited, but we never knew how impressive OPEN MIND's hyperMILL® would be."
The optimised tool paths and strategies of hyperMILL® has drastically reduced non-cutting times and the software enables the Yorkshire subcontractor to maximise the capabilities of its SGS solid carbide end mills and Chick One-Lok vices to truly drive productivity gains.
The Difference with hyperMILL®
For BRG the simplicity, safety and ease of use is built into almost every feature of hyperMILL®, as Ben continues: "Our previous system and many other 3-axis CAM packages are 32-bit operating systems that are slow to calculate and process information. hyperMILL® is a 64-bit system that churns through the data at lightning speed to reduce idle times and speed up programming times by at least 80% compared to our previous package."
The speed of calculating data is matched by hyperMILL® features that slash programming times for the end-user. This includes the ability to use multiple work planes whereas alternate systems have one fixed datum point. "The ability to set work planes from two different points around the job delivers huge time savings when programming. The multiple work plane feature also calculates how much material has been removed from each surface."
Safety is a critical factor for BRG and the collision detection on hyperMILL® is faultless, as Ben mentions: "The hyperMILL® collision detection is unparalleled and this is underpinned by the comprehensive tool database system that allows us to put the tool holder, collets and the drills or end mills into the database. This gives us a complete picture of our set-up and the tool overhang, which works in conjunction with the collision detection feature to give us complete confidence that we won't crash our machines."
Adding to this confidence is the new MAXX Machining high performance package within hyperMILL® , which also has enhanced features such as Arbitrary Stock Roughing that allows the customer to define exactly what features they wish to machine and the step-over parameters. "We are using most of the new features at present and we're tentatively trying hyperMILL ® MAXX Machining. As a company we are delighted with hyperMILL® and the support from OPEN MIND has been first class. The package has put us way beyond our competitors in terms of turnaround times and also our ability to manufacture extremely complex parts. The ability to machine complex geometries on a 3-axis machine has put us in a great position with Tier 1 and OEM manufacturers, which wouldn't have been possible without hyperMILL®."