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VERICUT and AML join forces to simplify complex machining demands
Tuesday, 17 May 2022

After a decade of using VERICUT machine simulation, verification and optimisation software, Advanced Manufacturing (Sheffield) Ltd (AML) is extolling the virtues of providing industry-leading protection for its high-value capital assets and expensive parts. VERICUT from CGTech is a key component of business success at this rapidly expanding precision machining company, which serves a plethora of customers in sectors such as aerospace, energy and defence. More recently, AML has embraced the efficiency and productivity gains offered by VERICUT's Force™ module, which is driving tool life gains and cycle time reductions in the order of 30-40%.

Originally a spin-out from the award-winning Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) at the University of Sheffield, AML is today a recognised market leader in delivering flexible manufacturing capability at the leading edge of machining technologies and efficiencies. The company is AS9100-certified and carries a Rolls-Royce Certificate of Approval. In addition, AML is part of the SC21 framework for '21st Century supply chains' to accelerate the competitiveness of aerospace and defence companies.

To manufacture the market's highest quality precision parts, the company utilises the very latest technologies, including VERICUT simulation, verification and optimisation software from CGTech.

“We've had VERICUT from day one of manufacturing at AML, which dates back around a decade,” explains Engineering Manager Jason Mills. “VERICUT is our safety net; it looks after our complex components, some of which are machined from expensive forgings that cost in excess of £50,000 before we've even drilled a hole. There is no margin for error. We use all of the features in VERICUT, including gouge detection, collision detection and, more recently, the FORCE module. The software also looks after our machine tools through virtual simulations, which are critical because a replacement spindle could cost around £40,000 for the hardware alone.”

From receipt or generation of customer CAD, forging and stage models, AML engineers start building up what it calls the 'Tech Pack' from its Siemens NX CAM system, including documentation and any relevant paperwork. The company will then start importing the component, fixture and tool models into VERICUT. Here, AML can take advantage of its VERICUT NX Interface, a function that provides an easy and convenient way to verify, optimise and analyse individual NC programs, a series of selected tool paths or a complete sequence of operations, directly from within Siemens NX.

“We then start simulating the tool paths, checking for everything that could possibly go wrong, from collisions and near misses, to spindles running in the wrong direction,” explains Jason Mills.

AML has seven seats of VERICUT base and essential modules that include Verification (detects program mistakes and verifies part accuracy), CNC Machine Simulation (detects collisions and near misses between all components in the machining zone) and Multi-Axis (simulates multi-axis milling, turning and mill-turn operations).

The latter is vital as AML has 15 DMG Mori CNC machine tools on site, almost all of which are high-specification, multi-axis NT series mill-turn models. These include a large NT6600 with 6-metre bed and the latest arrival, an NT4250 DCG, which is capable of simultaneous five-axis mill-turn operations with a direct-drive motor installed in the B axis.

“Business is extremely busy, so we also have a DMG Mori DMU 125 FD five-axis machining centre on order, and are looking at two more assets in the near future,” says Jason Mills. “We are not shy of investment if it makes sound business sense.”

The company also takes advantage of several further VERICUT modules, including AUTO-DIFF, which compares a CAD design model with a VERICUT simulation to automatically detect differences, weaknesses or mistakes in the design.

“We use AUTO-DIFF on every component as part of our standard operating procedure [SOP],” states Jason Mills. “With AUTO-DIFF, anyone involved in the manufacturing process can identify an incorrectly processed job. We find that it often flags up errors, especially as we have numerous mill-turn machines. The tools on mill-turn machines can be flipped round either way, so if they are not set-up correctly, VERICUT will capture it.”

Additional VERICUT modules on site include CNC Machine Probing, which checks for probe collisions (all of the CNC machine tools at AML feature Renishaw probes), and TDM Systems, which provides a live, on-the-fly connection to TDM. The company is now building tools in TDM for direct import into VERICUT.

Most recently, AML has added Force - Milling to its list of modules. VERICUT Force makes optimising an NC program fast and easy by calculating the contact between the tool and material, cut-by-cut. Force also takes the cutting-tool edge and material into account, adjusting the feed rates accordingly so they are optimal and constant.

“We've seen up to 40% more tool life and 30-40% savings in machining cycle time when using VERICUT Force,” says Jason Mills. “The module is invaluable for our production work as it provides us with a competitive edge. It's quite easy to use and understand. We simply pick the material from the database and input the cutter geometry, which we get from the tooling manufacturer. Force then does its calculations in the background.”

Contact details from our directory:
CGTech Ltd CIM Software, Machining Systems, Computer-aided Engineering, Composite Manufacturing Supplies
Advanced Manufacturing (Sheffield) Ltd. Precision Machined Parts, Metal & Alloy Fabrications
Related directory sectors:
Computer Integrated Manufacturing