Software Streamlines Tool And Die Shop's Operations

Since 1980, this company has grown from a 3,800-square-foot building to housing 400,000 square feet and 260 skilled employees in three separate buildings.

Case Study From: 2/3/2005 Modern Machine Shop

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Partially assembled die

The company assumes the simulation, design and production of complex dies used for automotive stamping. Pictured here is a partially assembled die.

Arpad Takacs founded Cam Tool & Die (Richmond Hill, Ontario) 25 years ago. Since then, Mr. Takacs has seen the company grow from a 3,800-square-foot building to housing 400,000 square feet and 260 skilled employees in three separate buildings.

As a full service provider to the automotive industry, the company strives to set itself apart in an industry in which it can be difficult to do so. Mr. Takacs attributes the growth of the company to its customer-oriented approach.

Cam Tool & Die provides a range of services, from the initial design to the finished product. Using advanced technology in the tool and die industry, the company can go from concept to prototype to complete hard tooling—all within its facility.

The shop's operations demand the use of various machines, including 13 presses with capacities ranging from 400 to 1,200 tons each, in addition to Cimatron E CAD/CAM software from Cimatron Technologies, Inc. (Novi, Michigan). Using multiple computer operating systems allows Cam Tool to assume the simulation, design and production of some of the complex dies used for automotive stamping.

Initially, design work was done with a pencil and paper. “I still have the first computer I used, a 16 MHz machine,” chuckles Mr. Takacs. “I believe a company that finds the software to fit its needs can enjoy a competitive advantage, which has been the case for us with Cimatron. When we started with Cimatron, we had one seat. Today we have more than 20.”

Mr. Takacs describes the relationship between Cimatron and Cam Tool: “Our dealings with Cimatron are similar to the way we collaborate with our customers. We have been working with the company for more than 15 years. We work closely with its engineers. When we communicate our needs, they have stepped up with the responsiveness we need in order to deliver the best possible results to our customers.”

Jay Weiner, who serves as both a mechanical engineer and IT manager at Cam Tool, explains the company's efforts to streamline internal processes: “We obtain a file part from the customer, design a die around it, machine the blocks, make engineering changes to the part and build the die from beginning to end— all in a single software package. We accept jobs that other shops may be apprehensive about because of considerations such as time and cost.”

Mr. Weiner went on to describe the difficulties the company initially had when searching for one software package to suit all of its needs. “To deliver products in a timely manner, we could no longer afford to go through multiple file translations for the different stages of the design/build process,” he says. “We were looking for a package that integrated assembly-based solid modeling, advanced freeform surfacing, two- and three-axis milling, as well as two- and four-axis wire EDM programming. Cimatron E has the necessary features to help us streamline our processes end-to-end and build quality tooling.”

According to Mr. Weiner, the freeform surfacing features of Cimatron E are quite impressive. “The variety of surface creation and modification tools give the design team flexibility, as do the solid body creation and modification tools,” he says. “Once the basic design of the die is done, adding the details to each block of the die used to take up to 30 minutes. With Cimatron E, creating the die design in 3D reduces this task to less than 5 minutes. When there are a few hundred blocks in each die, the time savings on this task alone is substantial.”

As the industry changes and technology evolves, companies must adapt to customer needs. “As the company grows, so does the competition. Our challenge is to keep reinventing ourselves. If we stop, we are not going to make it,” Mr. Takacs concludes.

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