Disrupt Age-old Part Manufacturing Practices

If you're running a machine shop you have probably spent countless hours figuring how you can stay competitive. Making a profit in part manufacturing is not easy, and it is becoming even harder. Traditional ways of producing parts have lots of in-built inefficiencies, which manufacturing companies irrespective of their size often fail to recognize. Even if you have made it so far, failing to understand the cost impact of these inefficiencies can prove fatal in the future when new more agile competition enters the arena.

 disrupt oldage manufacturing

We've discussed building a digital enterprise and model-based definition in previous blog posts. This blog post goes one step deeper to discuss what digitalization has to offer to part manufacturers.

Traditional CNC programming relies on creating a control program based on manufacturing drawings created by a design engineer, and verifying the program through prototype manufacturing. If the 3D model is available, the process typically involves a lot of manual selections and operations, and the CNC programming environment is usually a standalone system. As the complexity of parts increases identifying all required machining operations becomes increasingly difficult and chances are that errors are introduced into the control programs, especially when the design changes. This could be a result of either failing to identify a required machining operation, or programming things to happen in an incorrect order, or any number of other programming errors, but also a result of misinterpreting drawings. In a worst-case scenario such errors can result in the breakdown of production equipment, the cost of which is higher the longer it takes to repair the equipment and get the production up and running again. Good quality programming and verifying the programs takes time, and time equals money.

Digitalization can help manufacturing companies slash their costs and become leaders in their area. You can choose to ignore the possibilities digitalization provides, but rest assured that more agile competitors will not.

A proven way to digitalize manufacturing operations is to adopt the use of a highly accurate digital twin that combines a precise geometric model of parts to be manufactured with manufacturing information and with a digital representation of all phases of the part manufacturing process, required production resources, and monitoring the process and resources during manufacturing.

 Part manufacturers consistently see dramatic improvements in production efficiency and part quality with such digital twins, ultimately resulting in improved profitability and opportunities for business expansion: 

  • Up to 90% reduction of NC programming time through the combination of model-based definition and feature-based machining
  • Up to 70% improvement of part quality
  • Up to 70% gain in production efficiency
  • Up to 50% shorter lead times
  • Up to 4 times faster machining

part manufacturing

Incorporating manufacturing information (PMI) with part 3D model lays a solid foundation for increasing the level of automation in CAM and CMM (coordinate measuring machine) programming. You can cut CNC programming time up to 90% with NX feature-based machining capabilities that enable automation of creating machining operations through feature recognition. By using pre-defined rules-driven machining process templates you can cut the number of programming steps up to 80%. With NX you can create and validate tool paths in the same environment. Comprehensive digital twin allows you to drive machining simulations with your G-code, with complete kinematic models of machine tools and machining centers.

 Automating CMM programming builds on the same elements as CAM programming, and you can use the digital twin to also verify the resulting programs. Furthermore, you can establish matching inspection plans in Teamcenter Quality or Opcenter Quality based on part 3D model with embedded PMI, and feed inspection results back to your quality management system for checking them against the plan, or to NX where you can analyze and visualize the results against the model for the purpose of monitoring process changes. Hence, you can react to emerging part manufacturing process issues before they have an adverse impact on part quality.

Significant efficiency improvements can be made in the actual machining of complex parts by adopting highly automated 5-axis machine tools and robotics. However, you need an advanced CNC programming environment to take full advantage of such machines. If you use standalone tools provided by the machine tool builder, you will introduce disconnects and potential sources of error into your own process. Thus, it is important to build an integrated CNC programming environment with full change management capabilities built-in.

pmi quote

Watch the on-demand webinar Automate Your Machine Shop to Gain an Advantage, Today (40 min, requires registering) to learn more on establishing model-based manufacturing.

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