10 Replies Latest reply on Aug 25, 2008 11:10 AM by Tony Hayes

    Sending files out to the shop floor

    Michael Closson
      I've been reading previous posts regarding how files are sent to wire EDM programmers, i.e. dxf, 3D solid or something else. My company has long been an AutoCAD user and we have a system in place using AC where any CAD data sent to the wire was "color-coded" (actually layer-coded) so that the programmer knew what and how to program his cuts. We have specific layers in AC for "one-shot", "skimmed" or "land-and-taper" holes or profiles. This system cut out a lot of verbal communication that could possibly be confused or forgotten by the time he gets around to programming. Mind you, there are still instructions about pick-ups or whatever. The CAD info he receives is geometry only, no dimensions, centerlines, hatching, etc. This system works for us very well. Is there a way in a drw file to change the layer property of specific edges? I wouldn't want all edges in a view to be on a certain layer and there could be multiple layers in one view. If I save my drw file in a dwg or dxf format, he would get all the dims, titleblock and other stuff he doesn't need. So I guess I would just create another drw of just the model and nothing else before sending it to the shop. This would be if I send a drawing and not the model. If I send a model, then I couldn't "color-code" the edges like we do now. Is that correct?

      One reply that caught my eye was from Anna Wood in which she included a sample model for machining. Anna, I noticed in your sample that you have a feature for start holes but they are cut out when you add the die profile. How does the programmer know where the start hole is? Our 2D drawings would show where the start hole is located.

      Anna, another thing I noticed in your sample (I'm not picking on you) is how you modeled a hole with land and taper. You cut a blind profile to the depth of your land and then created a second cut from there on thru with taper. I usually create a plane offset from the top surface at the depth of my land and cut extrude from that plane in 2 directions, one straight and the other tapered. I guess either method adds 2 features. Does anyone have any thoughts on either method?
        • Sending files out to the shop floor
          Tony Hayes
          As a tool maker myself I never liked the designer telling me where I need to start my program. As a tool designer now I rely on the skill of my tool makers to make those choices them selves. I always send them the Model and print. I will make a hard copy for the part that they are going to make. If the print is clear on whats what, like dowels, cutting profiles, clearence holes. etc. Then a good tool maker or wire programmer knows how many passes he needs to make to keep the tolerance. I always wanted and still feel like the tool maker needs a complete set of prints, I would not start a project unless I had one. Sending a drawing to shop the floor here with no dimensions on it will get the designer in some hot water. Without dimensions or tolerance then really the toolmaker can make one pass be off .010" and put the blame on the designer if it does not work since the complete information was not sent to him. Also without dimensions or tolerance how does the tool maker knows if he as made a good or bad part, they all should checking each and every detail of everything they make.

          About the start holes I do not let my designers take the time for start holes because every CAM software that I have used after you pick your profile it will ask you how much lead in you want. So you really never need a start hole. The wire programers will convert the solid to a wireframe to get the profile most of the time from there they tell the software where thay want the program to start. They might have to split one line so the they can have a start point in the middel of a profile.

          I do not want to upset anyone with this post but I just feel like you should not have to hold your toolmakers hand. I have sent tool designs to my shop floor and never talked to the tool makers after kickoff meeting until they tell me its ready to sample.
            • Sending files out to the shop floor
              Brian Cayer
              Tony,

              As an up from the bench progressive die maker who has worked in a lot of stamping houses I would say that the process used by the individual company's varied widely.

              The work flow that you describe works well with smaller company's and that is the way it went back in the day when I worked with them.

              In the larger company's that I've worked for it went more like Michael describes. A hard print went to the die maker who oversaw the project. His responsibility was to oversee the routing of the process. Then to finish grind, fit and assemble, tryout and debug. Then the best part of all, get it thru first piece and be done with it. Hurray!
              On to the next challenge.

              It went like this:

              Cut list to the material cutters.

              Hard prints to the CNC dept. With hole tables for all machining.

              Heat treat to vendor.

              Hard prints to Surface Grinding dept. who ground one long edge and top and bottom.

              All die blocks, insert multiple wire blocks, Strippers, punch multiple wire blocks, and punch holders to wire room where a couple wire guys were setting up and running 6 or 8 machines. Pick up the A1 dowel and go.

              After and during all that the assembly phase kicks in. Blocks coming out of wire room.The die set arrives from the vendor with all holes except the top dowels. Grinding, fitting, aligning and doweling the top side.

              Off to the tryout press, debug,debug.....debug. Here is his skill set proved.

              No one is thinking about numbers, thats the designers job.

              So in conclusion Michael,s system has merit in this case.

              SolidWorks needs to facilitate his methods in the 2D arena.



              Regards,
              • Sending files out to the shop floor
                Michael Closson
                Wow, this seems to be a touchy subject. Tony, you may have misunderstood. I do send fully detailed prints to our toolmakers. He has all the info he needs to prep the block up to the point of 3D machining, wire EDM, etc. For 3D and wire, we tend to just put a few reference dims for the toolmaker, but usually don't fully dim a wire profile or 3D surface shape. Your statement about not needing start holes, how do you thread the wire through the block to cut? As with the other posters, our wire operator is not a toolmaker. He generally can see what's important, but he doesn't get to see the whole picture of the die design, he's just wiring details.
                Not every cutting profile needs taper relief nor does every straight cut need to be closely held. Each project has one lead toolmaker and he shuffles details where and when they need to go.
                I think we are all achieving the same results in our own ways. If not, the tools we all build wouldn't produce a good part.
              • Sending files out to the shop floor
                Anna Wood

                 

                Originally posted by: Michael Closson

                One reply that caught my eye was from Anna Wood in which she included a sample model for machining. Anna, I noticed in your sample that you have a feature for start holes but they are cut out when you add the die profile. How does the programmer know where the start hole is? Our 2D drawings would show where the start hole is located.

                We use Esprit for our wire program. In Esprit you can bring multiple configurations of a SW model into one Esprit file, they will be overlaid on top of each other. Our wire guys will have both the wire starts and the finished wire cuts available to them to create their program.

                When I create a detail I will have two plan views overlaid and Aligned Vert/Horz by Origin. The hole chart is created from the Milling Operation configuration drawing view. The Default configuration shows the complete detail with all the wired cavities. That way you can see the wire starts in the cavities. See zip file below.


                 

                Anna, another thing I noticed in your sample (I'm not picking on you) is how you modeled a hole with land and taper. You cut a blind profile to the depth of your land and then created a second cut from there on thru with taper. I usually create a plane offset from the top surface at the depth of my land and cut extrude from that plane in 2 directions, one straight and the other tapered. I guess either method adds 2 features. Does anyone have any thoughts on either method?

                There is no right or wrong way here. They both get the job done. You have an extra feature in the plane. Not necessary to create as far as I am concerned. Just a matter of style.

                ...........

                When it comes to tool design, there is no right or wrong way to do a lot of things. Every shop is different in how they design and present documentation for manufacturing. Each company has a different DNA, tools, experience level, etc.

                Our systems and style of doing things has been developed over about thirty years of being in business. We have pushed our machinists, toolmakers, grinders, wire operators and CNC machinists to use math data solid model files. You would not beleive the amount of stuff that used to be hand coded. Our wire operators were the most progressive, using dxf files. We just got them and the rest of the company used to using solid models, with Engineering getting out of the data translation business. We have invested in the modern hardware and software tools to allow us to do this.

                We do not have a toolmaker/s that builds a tool/part from beginning to end complete. Haven't done that for years. We have a Milling Dept that will mill the block, wire starts, etc ready for heat treat. After heat treat it will go into our Grinding Dept and get the part ground before wire. Then it goes to our Wire Dept for wire. We have several toolmakers on staff who will take all the parts and do the final die asm, adding their magic to the builds. Then it is off to the Stamping Dept for die tryout, etc. After that our Die Maintanance Dept takes over the tool for its life at our company.

                We choose to show all the wire starts, etc in our design. Engineering is very conscious of the manufacturing processes our people will employ. We have to know as it affects how we design tools. We work closely with all of our shop personal to make sure we have good designs that they will be able to successfully build, cost and time effectively.

                We also leave a lot up to our toolroom personal and depend on them to add their experience and knowledge to their tool builds. We would never tell our wire operators what kind of cuts they need to make, as an example. That is their job to figure out based on the tolerances required for the parts.

                Again it is a matter of the style our company has developed, the personal we have and the type/volume of work that we do.

                I attached a few pdf's of typical tool details that will go to the shop. They are a balance of what is needed based on my knowledge of my audience (the shop) and how these will typically be processed through our shop.

                Math data only where needed and dimensions/tolerancing as needed to let everyone know what is required. About the only time I will hear from the shop is when a piece may end up on a manual mill when I am expecting it to be CNC milled. I will usually need to add a few dimensions on the details for the manual milling that will be done. That doesn't happen very often.

                Most of our bigger details with a lot of features end up on a cnc mill most all the time. The one small die block in my example pdf's will be done on a manual mill over in our die maintanance dept 100% of the time from a pre-made blank the toolmaker will pull out of our inventory. We build a lot of what we call toolkits from standard inserts that fit into our master die asm's. Very cost effective and quick turn around tooling.

                Lots of ways to get the job done. It is a matter of finding the right mix, that maximizes the talents of your people and the tools they have to get their job done. We have worked to make sure we aren't doing things just because we have done it that way forever and are maximizing the full potential of all the tools/data we have available to use.

                Cheers,
                  • Sending files out to the shop floor
                    Anna Wood
                    Michael,

                    You certainly can color code your solids. Instead of a wire frame you are color coding faces. See my details in the post above.

                    If your wire software will bring in the solids with colors then your operators would have all the info they need.

                    Current versions of Esprit will do this and I expect other wire software will also. It is a matter of your programmers knowing and using the full potential of the tools they have. They may just be doing what they are doing, because they don't know there is another way. Or maybe they are using out-dated software that does not take advantage of 3D solid model data.

                    From my perspective creating dxf's for wire is a very out-dated practice and a waste of engineering resources. Your doing the job twice. Modern software and techniques eliminates this non-value added work.

                    Cheers,
                      • Sending files out to the shop floor
                        Tony Hayes
                        All this just proves that there is always more then one right way to get a job done right and done quickly. I guess I have been spoiled in the 3 large company's that I have worked for that everyone in the shop was a top notch toolmaker, being that they required everyone to be able to build a tool from start to finish. We do not hire people to run just one machine. Yes I know that is the old school way but if you have just a few toolmakers and the rest just machine operators you are limiting yourself to a few people that can trouble shoot a die. I just feel like a designer should not hold the toolmakers hand, he should know where he needs a start hole. There are a lot of designers that have never built tools before, so they may not know where the best place for a start hole should be. I will always prefer to give a complete detailed print to the toolmakers, even it is going to be a CNC part.

                        Each company does everything different. Here where I worked now we have hundreds of parts that get replaced so it may not be the best thing to have blanks for everypart on the shelf waiting to be finish. So what we do here is we buy long blanks of A2, D2, CPM, H13 4140 etc. and we have these bars in stock. When we need to make replacement parts the toolmaker will cut off how much he needs, give that weight to the bean counters so they can charge that amount of steel to that job. From there they will layout themselves how many peices they need to make. Most of this is profile punches that get wired out so the start holes could be different each time. This run they may need 10 punches, next run they may need 5. I do wish that would be the same everytime and I am tring to change that. The production tells how many they may need do to the orders they have. Most of our tools produce 10 to 15 million parts a year.

                        Michael,

                        I may have got subject a little if so I am sorry. What I mean by no start holes was that we do not not draw them in, we leave that to the toolmaker to choose on where he wants to start at. We do not have lead toolmakers here, everyone is just as much toolmaker as the rest. They all work togethor in choosing the details they are going to make. About some profiles need taper and some don't is why the shop gets a complete detailed print, no just profile prints. Everyone can go to the network drive and view he drawings in the cad software (Only designer can change the drawings). Our toolmakers when programing foe CNC, Wire or CNC EDM work from the Solid 3D deta.
                          • Sending files out to the shop floor
                            Anna Wood
                            Tony,

                            We all are probably more the same then different. It is interesting to hear how different companies go about getting the same type of work done.

                            To give you the other end of the spectrum for volume. Most all the tool designs we do is for volumes of less then 200. We do a lot of single hit tooling in master dies.

                            A typical toolkit for me will have 6 details.

                            Die Insert, Gut
                            Stripper Insert, Gut
                            Gut Punch
                            Die Insert, Lance Tabs
                            Stripper Insert, Lance Tabs
                            Punch Holder, Lance Tabs

                            These standard size details are mounted into a master die and run as single hit tooling. We have 20K-25K different carriers designs we have set up tools for over the last 25 years or so. Lots of mix and match tooling in standard tool inserts.

                            It is not unusual to have a order come in for a carrier with new tooling and if the customer is in a real big hurry we can be shipping parts in 3-4 days.

                            We would not be cost effective if we did not have specialists to work with our toolmakers. Good quality toolmakers that can do everything are very expensive and also next to impossible to find in this day and age.

                            This is a great thread, fun to hear the different philosophies and methods to get their tools designed and built.

                            Cheers,
                              • Sending files out to the shop floor
                                Tony Hayes
                                Our dies are similar to yours. We produce drawer glides for kitchen cabinets. We have many different lengths and each length as a different hole line up. We produce all lengths in one die. Just moving stations in or out to create the lengths. Each station is in itself a complete die that is mounted on a larger bolster plate. This also makes it where we can make something different for a new customer without having to spend a great deal of money.

                                We have plenty of toolmakers in our area only because there have been losts of shops that have went under in the last 5 years. Before that we had a great tool and die class at the local college, a apprenticship program that worked with local companys and the county school system. I started my tool and die apprenticship in high school because of that program.
                        • Sending files out to the shop floor
                          Michael Closson
                          We are just a tool shop. We only build the tools and maybe a short run for the customers PPAP. Our dies can be anywhere from 12 inches to 96+ inches long. I can see the benefit of you having master sets with interchangeable inserts, but we rarely have that here. Sometimes we will build a change-over die to produce multiple parts, but once it's finished, we ship it and probably never see it again.

                          I would like to point out that the color system we use was developed when we were strictly AutoCAD. Now that I'm shifting my focus to SolidWorks, I am trying to develop a new system for pushing files out to the floor. We have a good crew of toolmakers who can all run the conventional machines. But we do use "specialists" to run the wire EDM and CNC machines. They are the ones who are not really toolmakers and wouldn't necessarily know a details function in a die.

                          On another note, I find it interesting how much demand there still is for the AutoCAD format within the SW users of the world. I realize AC been around a long time and probably a lot of manufacturers stated out with AC when they leapt into CAD/CAM. I just find it interesting how other CAD packages give you options to convert to and/or read dwg format because that's what everyone wants, while AC gives you dwg only or neutral formats. I can save a drw file as a dwg, but not the other way around.
                            • Sending files out to the shop floor
                              Tony Hayes
                              I agree with the color system. I do wish that Solidworks was setup that if I made My dowels holes in the solid red then they would show up red on my drawing. Colors are a quick way for the person making a part see whats important and not. I had always put dowels red, taped holes-green, air-blue, cutting profiles-purple. Everyone knew this system.