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Formula 1 (F1) subcontractor JK Engineering has invested in Open Mind’s Hypermill computer-aided-manufacturing (CAM) package.

John Kenny left his job at Stuart GP, now known as Red Bull Racing, in 2001 to start up JK Engineering.

His plan was to supply complex parts produced with a combination of high-specification CAM software and five-axis machine tools.

Starting with a three-axis Bridgeport, it took two years for JK Engineering to afford its first five-axis machine tool, a DMG DMU50.

Kenny said that the right CAD/CAM system was a necessity in order to support five-axis machining.

He chose Open Mind’s Hypermill CAM package, along with the relevant customer training and support.

Kenny said: ‘In 2003, we opted for the complete package that included the solid modelling feature and comprehensive training, which was perfect for us.

‘At the time, simultaneous five-axis machining wasn’t commonplace with small subcontractors, so the training was welcome.

‘Within two weeks, I was programming five-axis components,’ he added.

According to Kenny, the company machines prototypes and batches of up to 20 parts for industry sectors that demand rapid turnarounds.

‘With such complex parts, almost 40 per cent of our time is spent on programming and setups.

‘We have finely honed our programming and we’ve invested heavily in equipment to reduce setups; this leaves 60 per cent machining time where more savings can be made.

‘Open Mind allows us to quickly analyse and optimise cycle times on the computer to reduce them before machining takes place,’ he said.

Open Mind has a comprehensive collision avoidance system with no need for additional verification systems.

Running fully simultaneous five-axis machine tools with rapid feed rates of 100m/min, JK Engineering believes that Open Mind delivers safe programs.

The programmer models the tool, the tool holder and the workholding system into the program and the collision detection eliminates any potential problems.

Other programming elements that reduce programming times for JK Engineering include the automatic mirroring function that eliminates the programming replication for left- and right-hand parts.

During verification, machined surfaces are individually colour coded for each tool and cycle, quickly allowing the programmer to see any un-machined areas.

This is said to avoid time-consuming re-machining operations.

Open Mind can open a range of standard modelling program formats, such as IGES and Step files, but also comes with additional plug-ins for the direct conversion of Unigraphics, Parasolids, Proengineer, Catia V4, Catia V5 and Solidworks.

Kenny continued: ‘We use several of these, which allow us to open files and directly convert them, avoiding problems such as file corruption.

‘Many systems do not fully convert IGES files and often lose information and create surface inaccuracies,’ he said.

From a quality perspective, Kenny said the tool-path strategies ensure that components are of a high quality.

Hypermill has a ‘copy surface’ feature that enables the programmer to select a number of surfaces under the icon and the in-cycle consequence is a tool path that machines all selected surfaces in the same direction.

This improves component quality and surface finishes.

Open Mind Technologies

OPEN MIND Technologies AG is a leading developer of CAD/CAM software and postprocessors for designing and manufacturing complex moulds and parts. OPEN MIND offers an extensive range of products, from 2D feature-oriented solutions for milling standard parts through to software for 5axis simultaneous machining. With their hyperMILL software, which is used in the automotive, tool and mould manufacturing, mechanical engineering and aerospace industries, OPEN MIND Technologies AG is represented in all the important markets in Asia, Europe and North America.  

OPEN MIND’s solutions feature a user-friendly interface and the largest range of 2D, 3D and 5axis modules available to users. In addition, the company delivers a fully integrated product concept encompassing CAD solutions, plug-ins, interfaces and postprocessors that cover the entire manufacturing process from design to manufacture. We take our innovative ideas, long-time CAD experience and milling expertise and create technologically sound CAM strategies. OPEN MIND has made a name for itself internationally as a pioneer in innovative 5axis technologies. What makes OPEN MIND and its products special is the unique blend of computing and production expertise, experience and vision, and international character and individual service. This combination of qualities results in a constant stream of new ideas that help companies optimise their production processes.  

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