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that there’s less dry run time because the operators can trust what’s being put out. NCSimul really helps with our fi rst runoff.” Bretting employs NCSimul on three CNC machines: A fi ve-axis machining


center, a gantry machining center with a 3+2 rotary head, and a second gantry machining center. The three machines are the ones most used for “off the wall, tight tolerance work,” Moran said. Initiating the verifi cation process is quick and simple, according to Moran. When part models, fi xturing, and tooling are defi ned in the CAD/CAM program, the information can be directly selected and exported to NCSimul. After adjusting for details such as the position of the part on the table and various clearance aspects, the operator can load the CAD/CAM program and begin verifi cation. NCSimul also provides accurate estimates of total process run time. The


software records factors that often aren’t included in run time calculations, such as rapid feed rates and toolchange times. “You do get a much better sense of when a job is going to be done and off the table,” Moran said. In some cases the software can be an aid to constructing accurate quotes, but the nature of the production scheduling at Bretting means that the software isn’t normally used that way, espe- cially when making parts for the company’s product lines, Lizak said, “Usually it’s ‘okay guys, we have to have this out the door today.’” It is diffi cult to quantify savings that can result from incidents that the software


prevents from occurring. However, Lizak said, “Use of the software has helped us identify potential collisions between the workpiece and machine, with absolutely zero risk to the machinery. With its abilities to verify some of the tight clearances that we have to deal with, I feel it has paid for itself.” Moran concluded that the NCSimul software has been a key factor in maintain-


ing Bretting’s manufacturing momentum. “The ability to use creative programming strategies and verify them is providing the next step as far as our company’s desire to set a tone and continue to be an innovator,” he said. For more information from Spring Technologies, go to www.ncsimul.com, or phone 617-401-2197.


Digital Microscope Speeds Inspecting Metal Powders


L


ab technician Ricky Sapp once faced each workday with the task of manually inspecting metal welding powders and the sieves used to sort them. That was


before his employer, Kennametal Stellite Co. (Goshen, IN) invested in a VHX-5000 digital microscope from Keyence Corp. (Itasca, IL). Sapp’s job before the acquisition of the VHX-5000 was akin to sorting through individual grains of sand on a beach, or searching for the largest bits of powder in a bag of fl our—without an easy way to perform the task. Sapp, who has worked at the Goshen facility for more than 24 years, conducts a variety of physical measurements on the metal powders, weld rods, electrodes, and other materials used in hardfacing. Metals have been heated and hammered together for millennia, but it wasn’t until


the widespread availability of electric power that welding became an indispensable Continued on P76


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FINISHES


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