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The six seats of WorkNC CAM software that Patterson Mold and Tool uses on its shop floor have improved productivity by 30 per cent.

The main markets for its products are tools for its parent company used in the domestic-appliance, lawn and garden, electrical, small-motor, lighting and telecommunications sectors.

It now also produces parts for the aerospace industry, machining components such as pylons and struts, supported by AS9100 and ISO 9001 quality certification.

Before installing WorkNC, Patterson Mold and Tool had six full-time CNC programmers, so machinists had to wait when any changes had to be made to the CNC program.

By installing WorkNC, the company has been able to redeploy the programmers to other engineering roles and carry out all its CNC programming on the shop floor.

One lead programmer provides in-house training and administers the WorkNC system so that the 10 machine operators can program their machines themselves.

As well as its 15 CNC machines, Patterson Mold and Tool has two five-axis CNC machining centers, a DMG DMU 80 P and a DMG DMU 100 P.

These machines were installed to reduce the number of EDM tools required for each job by making it possible to machine more of the tool directly.

Now that the company is making aerospace parts, these machines have become an essential part of its production capability.

‘We use WorkNC’s Auto 5 module exclusively for our five-axis CNC programming and we have found it so easy to use that we did not need any training,’ said Roy Thomas, CNC Supervisor.

WorkNC Auto 5 changes three-axis toolpaths into five-axis toolpaths automatically.

Collision avoidance takes account of the tool and its holder, as well as the limitations of the machine itself.

Algorithms in the CAM software ensure that users can utilise the shortest tool lengths and intelligently use the machine axis limits data to introduce unwind and flip movements automatically.

Patterson Mold and Tool uses Unigraphics, CATIA and Pro/Engineer for its design, so tooling and aerospace models are all manipulated prior to manufacture.

The designers set the origins and put the parts in the right orientation ready for the machine operators to apply the toolpaths.

Data goes straight into WorkNC and predefined macros automatically speed up the programming process.

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