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Edgecam Supports COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery Tool Production

West Pharmaceutical Services uses Hexagon’s Edgecam to help produce molding for medical tools, including those involved in the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.

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A collection of vaccine-related products West Pharmaceutical Services produced with the help of Edgecam

Hexagon’s Edgecam program has helped international firm West Pharmaceutical Services produce molding tools, pharmaceutical packing components and delivery systems to support the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.

West produces its mold tools in Bodmin – a small town in Cornwall, U.K. – on a range of 24 Makino V80S five-axis vertical mills; Haas VF, VM and mini mills; and Ingersoll V5 CNC machines. Interim production manager Chris Tamblyn says all programming at the facility goes through Edgecam.  

Demand from both existing customers and new ones looking to develop COVID-19 solutions has kept business busy. “There’s been a recent upsurge in products required for the fight against COVID-19, including vials, stoppers, plugs and plungers,” Tamblyn explains.

Customized routines play an important role in the manufacturing of West’s steel tools. Tamblyn explains that the company produces pieces of tooling that are often similar, and pre-constructed routines saved to Edgecam streamline machining sequences.

Graphite tooling, however, does not allow this reuse, and only uses solid model CAD data for full five-axis machining. Instead, West needs to design each electrode uniquely for each tool.

Tamblyn says Edgecam helps here with a custom postprocessor, which allows West to manufacture a single-impression electrode, then use a repetition command to replicate the part onto a larger piece of graphite as many times as required. 

West also relies on Edgecam’s inspection module, which reuses the CAD data from the cutting stage. The module creates on-machine measurement cycles for in-process and end-item part inspections, measuring geometric features like surface points, bores, bosses, pockets, webs, widths and heights. It also evaluates the relationship between features such as roundness, flatness and straightness.

After inspecting the mold tools for final approval, West ships them to its manufacturing plants in Europe to producing millions of pharmaceutical packaging components and delivery systems.

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