Quality Tooling Makes the Most of High Speed Machining with CimatronE NC
A Family Business with Reputation for Quality
Founded in 1968 by Jim Alvey, Quality Tooling has grown to become one of the most reputable tooling and engineering providers to the leading automotive and appliance OEMs and suppliers. From its humble beginning in a two-car garage, the business now operates out of a 15,000 square feet facility with 27 employees working two shifts. Jim Alvey’s sons, Brian and Mike, have now taken the active role of managing the company.
Providing their customers with die cast, plastic injection, and blow molds, the family business has acquired a reputation for the quality of work produced and the personal touch given to each and every project. Many customers have stayed with Quality Tooling over the past 40 years, and new customers are continually added. “We stand behind our work 100 percent and do whatever we can to make the product right,” says Brian Alvey.
Challenge: Producing Parts Faster and More Cost Effectively
Much has changed since Quality Tooling’s early days. As competition has been intensifying, so has the need to slash both costs and production times. To compete effectively, the Alveys knew they had to upgrade their equipment. In early 2000, they bought a Makino V55 High Speed Machining center, and in the following years added a Makino S56.
The high speed machines enabled Quality Tooling to get jobs done faster, although not as fast as they were hoping for. Often several runs were needed to complete a project. In addition, costly cutters needed to be replaced often, as a result of those multiple runs and inconsistent feed rates and chip loads.
To run these machines at their full potential, the right software was needed. “We came to realize that we needed better software to run the machines in order to get true high speed performance,” says Brian Alvey.
Solution: Cimatron Delivers True High Speed with High Quality
Searching for new software, it was important that it supported true high speed machining without impacting quality. As Brian Alvey notes, “If we are going to put the name of Quality Tooling behind every project we do, we are not going to jeopardize the quality of our work in order to cut cost.”
After a thorough research and evaluation, Quality Tooling selected CimatronE NC. “We looked at several packages and Cimatron appeared to be the strongest one that suited us the best,” says Brian Alvey. With CimatronE, Quality Tooling is able to program an intricate 3D contoured surface and produce a clean part running at high speed. “The speed of production has more than doubled since we switched to Cimatron,” adds Stephen Alvey, a programmer using the software.
One example cited by Stephen Alvey involved a die cast mold with many ribs, approximately 5500 faces on one half. In the past, such a mold could not be machined all at once, but rather would need to be broken down into several areas. With CimatronE, says Stephen Alvey, they were able to machine it accurately in a single run. “We were able to use true high speed capabilities and for the most part run that job with lights-out machining. Cimatron gave us the confidence to know that when we put a program out onto the floor, we don’t have to worry about missing an area or possibly scraping our part. We knew we could hit the start button and walk out the door.”
The addition of CimatronE has also resulted in the cutters lasting longer, because it keeps the process smooth. As Brian Alvey says, “When you buy the software it is a major investment. But whenever you go looking at what you are gaining, that investment is very minor because you will save thousands of dollars just in cutters alone. Cimatron keeps a fairly constant chip load and feed rate. Therefore it maintains cutter sharpness. Parts are produced quicker because you don’t have to go back and rerun things. If you cut one job in Cimatron, you may use two cutters. If you cut that same job with one of the lower-end software you may use eight cutters. This translates into major savings.”
Cimatron has also provided a closed loop system to streamline the electrode process. Using CimatronE’s electrode templates saves valuable programming time, and the simulation capabilities eliminate the need for double set ups and the risk of electrodes hitting parts. If a change is made to the NC file, it automatically updates the electrodes, leaving less of a chance for error.
Getting up to speed on CimatronE has proven to be easy for Quality Tooling. “As soon as we received the software we were loading it on our computers and using it on our current jobs. It was very user friendly,” says Stephen Alvey. If a question came up, Cimatron technical support was easily accessible to provide an answer.
Results: Quicker Delivery, Lower Costs, More Customers
Quality Tooling has gained many advantages from the Cimatron investment. Brian Alvey says, “Making the investment in Cimatron was a big move for us because we are a small company, but the investment was well worth it and has probably been one of the best we ever made.”
Major cost and time savings have resulted from running clean parts with less runs. There are also fewer cutters replaced and fewer operators needed. “There are numerous times that we do run with no operators. The machines just run and we know we can set multiple parts and every one of them will be correct and gouge free,” says Stephen Alvey.
The addition of CimatronE has brought more repeat business, as customers have noticed that delivery times have gotten quicker. In addition, Quality Tooling can be more aggressive in their quotes because they have a better idea of product costs and delivery times.
Brian Alvey notes, “We have to compete with the overseas market and anything we can do to make our products look better is important. Cimatron has helped us tremendously. We are able to get more customers because we produce a higher quality product with better timing.”