Delcam President Clive Martell highlights benefits of Autodesk buyout at UK press conference.
The news is straightforward. Last November, Autodesk announced its intention to acquire Delcam, the CAM software developer based in Birmingham, UK. (Delcam's products include PowerMill, PowerShape and PowerInspect. Other Delcam brands include Featurecam and Partmaker.)
As of February 6, 2014, the acquisition was completed following a favorable vote by Delcam shareholders to accept the offer (reportedly worth $286 million, making this the largest acquisition in the CAM industry, according to Clive Martell, Delcam's President).
At a press conference last week at Delcam's UK headquarters, it was also announced that Delcam will operate as a wholly owned, independently operated subsidiary of Autodesk, with no significant changes planned for its business. In the short term, Delcam's existing customer base isn't likely to detect any disruption in service or operation as a result of this transaction.
Going forward, however, both Delcam and Autodesk see a strong synergy between the organizations, creating new opportunities for sharing technology and expertise. Chiefly, Autodesk brings to Delcam increased financial support, expertise in design and engineering as well as access to a much broader base of potential customers. Likewise, Delcam brings to Autodesk a suite of well-developed products and established brands that expand the larger company's foothold in manufacturing and fabrication.
I had several opportunities to discuss the acquisition in private conversations with Delcam's Clive Martell as well as Autodesk's Buzz Kross, senior VP for design, lifestyle and simulation products and Carl White, senior director, manufacturing engineering. My clear impression is that these key people share a similar outlook on the future of manufacturing as a digital experience that fulfils the imaginative impulse with a culmination in functional, marketable products. Importantly, they agree that this experience should be available to inspired entrepreneurs and inventors as well as global corporations with widely distributed manufacturing operations.
NCSIMUL Machine 9.1 takes into consideration the 3D form of fiber ribbon
to simulate building up a workpiece.
Spring Technologies’ NCSIMUL Machine software is typically thought of as a means to simulate the path of a CNC cutting tool—used to remove material from a workpiece in conventional machining. However, the most recent release of this program is capable of simulating the addition of material. NCSIMUL Machine version 9.1 includes a “Composite” option that dynamically simulates laying fiber ribbon with NC machines. The option can alert users to composites-specific problems such as deviation caused by steering angle errors or the twisting of taut fibers. Learn more on the company’s website.
Of course, machining composites is more in our readership’s wheelhouse. Here are four articles that address the challenges machining those tough materials:
1. Setting the Stage for Sizeable Composites Work
2. Composites Machining for the F-35
3. Getting New Business with Big Machines
4. An Alternate Micromachining Process for Composites
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The cam-actuated system shown in this video is one alternative for automated workpiece installation/removal on the new S11 cylindrical grinding machine. Note the in-process gaging capability being demonstrated, too.
I’m often introduced to new machining equipment at trade shows or company tech centers. Last week, United Grinding unveiled its high-production Studer S11 cylindrical grinding machine for small parts to members of the press and UG distributors at its “Mini Motion” event held on the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier docked in Mount Pleasant, S.C.
In an effort to make it easier for busy manufacturers also to see the machine in action, the company is bringing it to them via a tour that includes stops in eight key areas across the United States as well as Canada and Mexico (tour dates and cities are listed below). UG engineers will be available at each stop to answer questions about the machine and the applications it’s geared toward.
The S11 occupies only 19.4 square feet of floor space but still includes a large 19.7-inch-diameter (500-mm) wheel.
It’s important to note that the S11 was not developed to be a universal-type grinding machine. Instead, it was specifically designed for automated, high-volume production of small, precision parts as long as 7.87 inches. The machine weights approximately 5,000 pounds and features a Granitan mineral-casting bed that offers good vibration damping qualities. It accommodates a 19.7-inch-diameter (500 mm) wheel and is available with the wheelhead plunge angle set at 0 or 20 degrees. It can also be set up to perform high-speed peel-grinding operations. Like other Studer cylindrical grinding machine designs, the X and Z axes are part of a self-contained cross-slide unit. Both axes have linear guideways mounted on roller bearings.
The S11 features a streamlined designed without unneeded options and uses no hydraulics. Instead, component actuation is performed electrically or pneumatically. Compact size with a floorspace area just over 19.4 square feet is combined with easy access for maintenance and setup. The main door offers three opening stages. Stage one opens upwards minimally and is intended for quick manual loading or a brief check of the workpiece. For stage two, the door opens a bit more so all table-mounted accessories are accessible from the top. Stage three enables a lower front panel to be dropped down to make the front fully accessible during set ups.
The machine is available in a range of automation configurations, and users should consult with UG representatives to determine the configuration that’s best-suited for their application. One is shown in the video above, in which a simple but effective cam system is used to remove and install workpieces from the chuck. StuderWinFocus software was developed for this machine to enable pictogram step-by-step programming, and the Siemens Sinumeric 840D SL control with touchscreen interface has a tablet look to it.
Here’s a list of cities and dates for the S11 North American tour (click here to register). The machine will be accompanied by the Walter Helitronic Mini-Automation system that combines a five-axis universal grinding machine with robot loader.
• Feb. 19-20—Greer, S.C.
• Feb. 26-27—Rochester, N.Y.
• Mar. 5-6—Brecksville, Ohio
• Mar. 12-13—Livonia, Mich.
• Mar. 26-27—Itasca, Ill.
• April 8-9—Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada
• April 22-23—Los Alamitos, Calif.
• Spring 2014—Queretaro, Mexico
The Mini-Motion event was held on the USS Yorktown, which was appropriate given the journey the S11 machine is about to embark on. While touring the USS Yorktown, I was able to check out the aircraft carrier’s machine shop. Most machines there are still functional, and I appreciated the sign at the shop’s entrance.
Apprenticeship 2000 is a program in which several North Carolina manufacturers cooperate to fund college instruction and provide paid on-the-job training for students pursuing careers in manufacturing. In this video, Ralph Daetwyler, president of the Max Daetwyler Corporation in Huntersville, North Carolina, points out that his company and other partners in the program spend up to $150,000 per student to provide that opportunity, without requiring students to sign any agreement to stay. What if the students take the training and leave? Mr. Daetwyler’s response is, “Then we weren’t a good employer.” A response I would add is that the shared effort of various companies adding talent to a common local labor pool makes the overall region healthier for manufacturing, so the investment still delivers value. I believe regional alliances such as this one (here is another) are the best means of addressing the current lack of skilled manufacturing employees.
If you’re in the process of training somebody to be a machine operator who has limited or perhaps no shop experience, have them check out this video. The guy does a really good job of conveying a good deal of information related to the basics of how to attack a machining job (cutter selection, chip load, determining speeds/feeds, etc.). He calls it a brain dump, but it’s more helpful than overwhelming.