As part of the Proto Labs® core commitment to continuous improvement, the on-line CNC machined parts service Firstcut®has re-engineered the powerful software at the heart of its process and is delighted to announce the introduction of automated thread cutting.
‘Perhaps 15-20% of our customers request threaded holes,’ says Mr. John Tumelty, Managing Director of Proto Labs®. ‘which is what prompted us to look at automating this process. By making them quick and easy to specify using the Firstcut® process we’ve eliminated a secondary operation where there is always an opportunity for mistakes to occur. When we ship a part, you know the thread is correct and finished, so the customer is assured they have exactly what they specified.’
When a designer submits a 3D CAD model via the company’s Firstquote® interactive online quoting system, Firstcut’s powerful software automatically writes the tool-paths for its state-of-the-art high-speed, CNC milling machines. The newly re-engineered Firstquote® software now recognises the existence of pilot holes in a part and will give the customer the option of specifying whether and how they should be threaded*. Holes can be selected individually, while multiple holes of the same size can be selected collectively just as quickly and easily.
Since the Firstcut® process produces the toolpaths automatically (and very quickly), customers can order as many or as few parts as they need. And with the high level of automation that you would expect from Proto Labs® the process has eliminated any non-recurring engineering charges so you are able to order one part or ten, the part price you see is the part price you pay.
‘Our process is simple and straightforward,’ adds Mr. Tumelty, ‘and doesn’t require the designer to have any understanding of the CNC machining process. We’ve developed the Firstcut® software and designed the Firstcut® service so that customers can experience the speed of typical additive RP processes but have their parts made in aluminium or thermoplastic material, giving them far superior accuracy, surface finishes and mechanical properties.’