In early December, I attended the Euromold trade show in Frankfurt, Germany. This is a major European trade show for moldmakers and companies that serve the moldmaking industry. It is somewhat similar to the IMTS in the United States in that it is a large show that has a major impact on the market that it serves.
The total attendance for the 4-day show was approximately 50,000 people. Based on comments from longtime participants, this was down by 20 percent or so from prior years, which was typical for conferences and trade shows held during 2002. With travel constraints in place, most companies are now sending fewer people to exhibitions, but those who do go are usually the “right” people and come with a specific purpose in mind. Hence, vendors exhibiting often find that the business that results from participating in a show is equivalent to that of prior years.
Although similar, there are differences between Euromold and IMTS. IMTS is a horizontal show focusing on machine tool usage across industries. In contrast, Euromold is a vertical show with a focus on the moldmaking industry. Also, at IMTS, the exhibitors are all vendors, including those offering machine tools, hardware, software and services for manufacturers, including moldmakers. At Euromold, the exhibitors are moldmakers themselves presenting their capabilities to product manufacturers as well as vendors that supply machine tools, hardware, software and services to the moldmakers.
As a further comment, European shows in general tend to present a more relaxed atmosphere. For example, booths often feature entertainment, and all seemed to serve refreshments, which in some cases included alcoholic beverages. I felt that there was more activity, excitement and buzz at Euromold than at IMTS.
Some of the CAM software vendors exhibiting included Cimatron, Pathtrace, Delcam, Vero International and PTC. The Cimatron booth was large and included a café where attendees could relax and obtain refreshments. Cimatron also hosted a press conference in its booth during one of the evenings. The company presented Cimatron E 4.2 and also formally introduced a new product, Quick NC. Cimatron E is the com-pany’s primary product line. It is a broad-based solution that includes integrated solid and surface modeling, core and cavity parting, mold base design, electrode design, drafting, NC, and information management.
Quick NC is a CAM-only, more focused, software system. The primary feature of Quick NC is a capability to preview expected results without calculation of a tool path. Cimatron believes that it will save considerable time in process planning.
Pathtrace reported to CIMdata that it is countering the general industry trend and was experiencing solid revenue growth in 2002, with Europe and portions of Asia doing particularly well. At Euromold, the company focused on the EdgeCAM Strategy Manager, a relatively new capability for knowledge-based machining. Strategy Manager extends the feature-based approach of EdgeCAM Solid Machinist and combines this with user knowledge to produce machining strategies that are tailored to a company’s best practices for machining. It is easy to use and can be demonstrated in 5 minutes or less.
Delcam was emphasizing new capabilities in five-axis machining within PowerMill. The company announced support for swarf machining, in which cutting is carried out with the side of the tool rather than the tip. The primary benefit of this technique is that it results in smoother surfaces and is often employed in aerospace. Delcam also supports five-axis positional machining, or three-plus-two machining, in which the head is oriented into a series of positions and then three-axis machining takes place. This is particularly appropriate for deep cavity milling often encountered in moldmaking, in that the head can be lowered toward the job, and shorter cutters can be used.
Vero International announced VISI Version 10. It includes a number of new features, including support for Parasolid V14, duplicate surfaces identifier for imported data, VISI electrode, a 3D stepover option, spiral machining strategy, manufacturing feature recognition and speed improvements for all machining operations.
The size and scope of PTC’s booth was impressive because PTC does not often attend trade shows totally devoted to manufacturing. The company was exhibiting the core Pro/Engineer three-axis milling foundation product, Moldshop, Expert Moldbase Extension (EMX) and Progressive Die Extension (PDX). Pro/Engineer Moldshop is intended to automate all stages of mold design. EMX adds intelligence to mold components and moldbases. PDX is a knowledge-based design solution for progressive dies. PTC is one of the few CAM software vendors with an offering for design of progressive dies.