Reduce waste and save money. Gavin Powell, CGTech’s managing director discusses the role of VERICUT in advancing sustainable development within the aerospace sector.
Today’s business environment is characterised by a complex mix of risks and opportunities that are changing at an ever-increasing pace. An entire market can be disrupted in a short time by innumerable factors, such as new technology or a sudden lack of natural resources. New markets are emerging rapidly due to global trends such as population growth, resource scarcity or worldwide health risks. Against this backdrop, consumers and investors are better informed than ever before and they want businesses to take responsibility for the pressure the planet and its population are under. Here, we focus on how VERICUT software can minimise or eliminate the various types of waste within a manufacturing business, with an underlying aim to reduce, re-use and recycle.
With the United Nations calling on all companies to play an increasing role in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, every business’s operational practices are just one element of the positive impact that can be made. And, to put this into some sort of context, when an aerospace company is tendering for work, up to 15% of the decision making refers to sustainability, green approach, environmental issues and other key measures.
One of the key measures is the reduction or elimination, where possible, of waste. Let’s consider what we mean by ‘waste’. As a verb or noun, it applies to the use of a resource expended carelessly, extravagantly, or for no purpose. As an adjective it is applied to the unwanted material, substance, or by-products that are discarded as no longer useful or required after the completion of a process.
Since its launch in 1988, VERICUT software has been targeting waste, and is considered the industry standard for simulation, verification and optimisation of CNC machines. Only the production simulation of the NC data, the ‘real’ machine code, offers companies sufficient security for their machining processes. It is the only sure way to simulate the real processing situation with a virtual machine tool on the desk.
As the world’s leading independent CNC simulation and optimisation software, VERICUT can be applied at different points during the manufacturing process to help control waste. It starts with the ‘prove out’ of a new or modified component, with VERICUT safely producing any parts required in a virtual environment. This often negates the need to physically test run a part prior to production, which removes the chances of scrapping (wasting) raw material to generate an erroneous part, along with chance that the NC program might contain errors that could cause the machine tool to crash and become damaged. Not to mention the wasted production capacity and power consumed by the machine tool.
“Being independent matters,” says Gavin Powell, CGTech’s managing director “Most integrated verification systems are limited to checking the internal CAM file, which is then translated one or more times before going to the machine tool. An internal check is just part of the programming process, it does not replace the need for real simulation of the post-processed NC code. A CAM system checking its own tool path is like a student marking their own test. Risk of generating waste is too high when you send a new program to the shopfloor.”
The next impact point for VERICUT could be considered ‘disruptive’ as the software can be applied to mature components already in production. Here, the software can optimise the NC code to produce a more efficient program than any proprietary CAD/CAM post-processed toolpath. With manufacturing cycle time savings of between 10% and 40% depending upon the raw material and complexity of the parts, the savings on the wasted time and power consumed are significant. Producing more parts with existing capacity may even provide machine shops with the opportunity to avoid additional capital investment.
Force more out
Wringing the absolute amount out of your machine tools is where the VERICUT Force module enters the arena. Force is a software module within VERICUT that uses a physics-based optimisation method to determine the maximum reliable feedrate for any given cutting condition based on four factors: force on the cutter, spindle power, maximum chip thickness, and maximum allowable feedrate. It calculates ideal feedrates by analysing tool geometry and parameters, material properties of the stock and cutting tool, detailed cutting tool edge geometry, and VERICUT cut-by-cut contact conditions.
“The fundamental problem we are solving with VERICUT Force optimisation is that CAM systems focus on feedrate, not chip thickness,” says Powell. “The sequence for optimal cutting is to maximise the chip thickness matched to the tool, keep the chip thickness consistent and avoid excesses.
“While VERICUT covers the obvious and visible production elements, such as crashes, scrap, gouges and prove outs; Force addresses the hidden opportunities. These include inefficient programming and suboptimal feedrates caused by the CAM system’s inability to adjust cutting feedrates for varying cutting conditions.”
If we break the key parameters of Force down into ‘attack’ and ‘defence’ to highlight how the software achieves its goals.
“In attack - we create optimal cutting conditions by maximising chip thickness and keeping the chip thickness constant,” explains Powell. “Defence comes from setting limits to prevent failure, such as maximum feedrate, cutting force and deflection. All of which is done without altering the trajectory or path of the cutting tool.”
Force relies on proven technology to maximise program efficiency and productivity and typically achieves savings of 8 to 15% on aluminium and is often over 20% on difficult to cut materials. Return on investment can often be as little as one production component, with the opportunity to analyse cutting conditions, improve tool life, protect CNC machine tools and reduce operational costs. A further tangible benefit from Force is a significant increase in tool life, with a direct correlation on cutting tool spend.
“For many businesses the spend on cutting tools is significant, and we can save money and reduce waste with Force,” states Powell.
VERICUT in a material world
The VERICUT composites programming solutions can increase speed of production by 30 to 40% for industrial businesses applying these high-performance lightweight materials. VERICUT Composite Programming (VCP) and VERICUT Composite Simulation (VCS) provide opportunities to remove waste from the composites manufacturing process.
“We know from our whitepaper: ‘A roadmap to automated composites’ that around two thirds of the production time required to generate a composite component is taken up by inspection and rework,” Powell concludes. “Any opportunities taken to improve the process will reduce this wasted time.
“We have to aim to make positive changes to tackle the climate crisis by reducing, re-using and recycling to control carbon emissions and focus on operating at net zero is the future. It is good for our planet, and for your business. In a nutshell, if your business is not taking positive environmental steps, it will be surpassed by those that are.”