When one of the UK’s laser profiling and fabrication subcontractors wanted to enhance its CAD/CAM capabilities for press-braking operations, the company turned to AMADA UK. Duly acquiring AMADA’s Production Designer CAD and VPSS 3i BEND software suites, the company has reduced its press braking cycle times by up to 50%.
Since its foundation in 2000, SSC Laser Cutting has grown to become a major UK force in precision laser profiling and fabrication, today operating across three manufacturing sites in Stafford, Derby, and Bristol, with plans to expand in the northeast and north-west. Markets served to include street furniture, pharmaceutical, retail, marine, rail, architecture, construction, automotive, agriculture and oil, and gas, to list but a few.
Although using an array of AMADA press brakes, including two HFE-130 M2 tonne machines, a HFE-8025 tonne model, and a HD-1703 long-stroke machine, until recently SSC had been restricted by the use of basic CAD/CAM software.
“To be honest, the software capability for our press brakes was a little old school,” admits SSC’s Group Production Manager Julian Till. “It was slow and not enough information would reach the press brake operator, which in turn would lead to occasional incorrect developments. In addition, time studies told us that we were spending longer setting up the machines than actually bending parts. With this in mind, offline programming and planning ahead were the clear next steps for our business.”
SSC reviewed the market for cutting-edge CAD/CAM software that would be able to streamline the press-braking process.
“We’ve had AMADA press brakes for many years, and although we looked at other options, it was apparent that using AMADA software was the way to go,” says Mr Till. “The software is designed for use with AMADA machines and is future-proofed accordingly. In addition, it handshakes nicely with many other software packages.”
Following an in-depth analysis of the software, in July 2017 SSC purchased both AMADA’s Production Designer and VPSS 3i BEND for its headquarters near Stafford.
Production Designer allows users to import 2D orthographic drawings and 3D solid models from various 2D and 3D packages. This will then create an unfold drawing from selecting the internal radius required or the selected vee for that thickness. Assemblies can also be opened, and each part can be unfolded, making it ideal for reverse engineering projects.
VPSS 3i BEND is able to quickly turn 3D CAD designs into fully formed components. The software creates the bending sequence in manual or automatic mode, giving the user different options to best determine the tools and machine configuration. BendCAM reduces the time required to prepare programs and simplifies the machine set-up process, thus reducing downtime.
Both software suites work to reduce production time with their easy-to-navigate user interfaces and an array of automated functions that help minimise manual activities. The software further streamlines the press-braking process with a 3D simulation of the bend sequence and tooling set-up.
“We produce everything from complex, very thin stainless steel workpieces up to thick mild steel plate – if we can cut and bend it, we’ll take it on, regardless of whether the requirement is for 1-off or 1000-off,” says Mr Till. “The amount of time saved varies as no two projects are the same, however, with the use of the new software, production time can be reduced by up to 50%. We simply bring in the parts, pop in the tool and away we go.”
SSC Laser Cutting now has three seats of Production Designer and VPSS 3i BEND, one for each production site. In total, three engineers are trained to use the software.