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Elkington Brothers has completed 25 years as a customer of Delcam’s CAD/CAM software. The Birmingham-based toolmaker installed its first system in 1989, having used traditional methods for the first 50 years following its founding in 1939.

Elkington tool

Elkington Brothers now has seven staff working on Delcam software — three doing design with the PowerSHAPE CAD software, two programming with the PowerMILL CAM system and two switching between the two programs. Two members of the group also use the PowerINSPECT inspection software for quality control on a Stiefelmayer co-ordinate measurement machine, with a third about to be trained.

The Delcam programs are used for the company’s complete range of projects, including making many types of tooling, producing models and patterns and building jigs and fixtures. While almost 90 per cent of the work is for the automotive industry, including a lot of RIM tooling to produce sills, bumpers and spoilers, Elkington Brothers also has customers in the aerospace, agricultural and rail businesses.

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Key benefits of product application

  • Elkington Brothers’ managing director James Kelly said: ‘The software has gone from strength to strength over the time we have been a customer. We started out using a lot of typed commands, whereas now everything is done through the user interface. In addition, the developments in both software and hardware mean that calculation times are a fraction of what they used to be.’
  • The faster calculation times have contributed to substantial time savings. A project such as a tool for a headliner used to take 24 weeks, but this is now down to six weeks if everything goes to plan. The time savings enable Elkington Brothers to be competitive when quoting for work. The faster delivery also benefits the company’s tooling customers because they can start making parts sooner.
  • The accuracy that is possible with the Delcam software is also much better. Kelly said: ‘Of course, we would never have sent out tooling that wasn’t up to our standards. However, the software means we can reach the required quality much more quickly with very little hand finishing.’
  • One thing that hasn’t changed is the number of tools that are modified, either before any parts are produced or after initial samples have been made. According to Kelly, PowerSHAPE makes it easy to compare models so that staff can see what needs to be done or, if substantial changes are required, whether the project should be started from scratch. This means Elkington can prepare a quote for the extra work quickly and be confident that the price it is asking is realistic.

Delcam supplies software and services that help manufacturing companies to maximise their profitability by increasing productivity, improving quality and reducing lead times. The company is the world's largest specialist supplier of computer-aided machining software, with its PowerMILL, FeatureCAM, Partmaker and ArtCAM programs making up the most comprehensive range of CAM systems from any developer.

This broad selection allows Delcam to offer a CAM system capable of machining virtually any product, in any material on any type of equipment. Delcam also develops product design, tooling design and quality control programs. The unique Tribrid Modelling approach to design incorporates solid modelling, surface modelling and triangle modelling in a single program, enabling complete design and reverse engineering projects to be undertaken without transferring data between software.

Delcam's Powerinspect offers fast, reliable comparison of parts, prototypes and tooling against CAD data on all types of inspection equipment and even on machine tools. This versatility has made it the world's leading hardware-independent inspection software. Related programs are available for checking machine tool set-up and part location. Delcam software is used in over 80 countries worldwide by around 40,000 organisations, from large multi-nationals to small sub-contractors, in industries including aerospace, automotive, dental, engineering, footwear, medical and toolmaking.

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