As the premier mould tool producer in Hungary, Euroform supports many key industrial sectors. Customer demand for its high quality tooling has resulted in rapid growth and the need to operate its CNC machine tools around-the-clock. With the night shift planned to run minimally or even unmanned the company needed to ensure the safety of the CNC machines on the shopfloor. To achieve this Euroform invested in VERICUT, advanced CNC simulation and verification software from CGTech.
Established in 1993, Euroform is a family-owned company based in a modern 50,000 ft2 facility in Budapest, Hungary. The family that owns the company also operates a mould tool company in Germany. While both produce mould tools the ‘sister’ companies support customers in very different industry sectors, plastics tooling only from Euroform and rubber mould tooling produced in Germany. Euroform also provides additional production capacity for its counterpart, although this is only around 8 per cent of its turnover.
As well as producing mould tools to ‘print’ the engineers at Euroform also have the skills and knowledge to design and manufacture mould tools based on component models – CAD based models as well as 3D prototypes, the injected material specification and the quantities required over the expected life of the project. Typically for the automotive industry they mostly run in the millions of cycles over three to four years, so quality is paramount.
Demand from customers, that in turn supply household names such as LG, Volkswagen Audi Group, Ford, BMW and Mercedes Benz, has grown in parallel with the company’s reputation for producing high quality tools, which has required investment in additional capacity. As Managing Director, Krisztina Kovesi-Zwick, points out: “We have invested in our facilities, the very latest CAD/CAM software, CNC machining technology and the capability of our staff. Unfortunately, we have an extreme shortage of experienced engineers here in Budapest so we have to use the resources we have to the maximum.
“That means operating our machine tools overnight, preferably without any engineering support. To successfully achieve this we knew we had to put some protection in place, to minimise the risk of the machine tools crashing or gouging the material being machined to produce the cavity of the mould tool.”
Having seen a demonstration of CGTech’s independent CNC verification, simulation and optimisation software VERICUT, the company was convinced that it would provide the vital protective link in the production process. The customers’ solid models are imported into the company’s Siemens NX CAD software by the design engineers to create the mould cavity details before it is transferred to the company’s Delcam PowerMill CAM system. Here the cutting tool paths and machining strategies are applied, along with the cutting data to suit the Fraisa and Widia solid carbide tools preferred by Euroform.
The complex geometry being machined combined with the accuracy and finish required results in extremely long NC programs, and the production methodology at Euroform is to complete the machining in as few operations as possible. One set-up is the ultimate goal, but no more than two if a single operation is unachievable. Of course, the complexity and length of the NC program does increase the opportunities for errors.
VERICUT software takes the post processed NC code from PowerMill and simulates the machining operations. Although the software is a recent investment Euroform already has four of its latest multi axis machine tools modelled in VERICUT, including a DMU 100P, DMU 85 monoBLOCK, HSC 75 Linear from DMG and a 5-axis Ingersoll Speed Hawk 550. This allows the software to verify that the machine will operate exactly as the CAM programmer expects. It also checks for collisions between any part of the machine, the fixturing and the raw material, as well as the cutting tool that would gouge the workpiece.
“Prior to using VERICUT we would run a few hours into the night with reduced cutting data and engineering support on overtime. However, it was always a worry that has now been removed by the software. We can confidently run the machine tools through the night and on weekends. Before VERICUT we would run machines 2 or 3 hours after closing time, but now they can run through Friday night to Monday morning. It is the difference between 2 to 3 hour and 2 to 3 days; it is a huge step. With a growing order book and scarce resources we always have to look for such efficiency gains. Not only does VERICUT provide protection for our extended running, it also runs overnight as well to simulate and verify the next batch of work. Although simple programs are written at the machine controller, our plan is to only run NC programs that have originated from the CAM system that have been proven safe by VERICUT, ” Krisztina Kovesi-Zwick explains.
She continues: “Effectively, the software has given us additional machining capacity without investing in more machine tools or staff. That said, we have recently installed a new Trimill VU 3091 gantry machine to support the growing demand for larger mould tools that will be using VERICUT very soon, and we are also using a 5-axis machine tool to train engineering staff on an in-house two year programme. We are not a large company, but more than half of the 70 staff work in the tool shop and we recognise the skills we need going forward.”
Three of Euroform’s CAD/CAM engineers were initially trained by CGTech to successfully use VERICUT, and they will now train additional staff internally. As Krisztina Kovesi-Zwick points out: “We try to educate and train our own people wherever possible, those experienced in milling will learn about the CAD/CAM system and the CAD/CAM users will be trained to use VERICUT to improve our overall efficiency.”