On their stand at the MACH 2018 trade exhibition at the NEC, Autodesk profiled a case study of A&M use of the PowerMill CAM software.
The power and flexibility of Autodesk’s PowerMill CAM software has been a key factor in the rapid growth of A&M EDM. The company uses the software for the wide range of machining services
that it offers alongside its capabilities in EDM (electric discharge machining).
A&M EDM is still relatively unusual in offering both EDM and machining capabilities and this dual capability has contributed to the company’s rapid growth. "Having both sparking and machining means that we can use the most appropriate technique on each job or even on different sections of the same part,” explained A&M MD Mark Wingfield. "It means that we can do things that wouldn’t be possible with just one approach.”
Investment in the latest technology has been another key component in the success of the business. The site now contains twenty Hurco machines; fifteen mills, of which three are five axis, and five lathes. The biggest machine has a bed 3.2 metres by 2.1 metres.
A more recent addition has been a 3D laser scanner for reverse engineering together with Autodesk’s PowerShape design software. The equipment is used to scan parts to capture the design data needed for projects such as the repair of older tooling and the manufacture of replacement parts for historic engines.
A&M EDM has always sought work across all types of engineering, rather than specialising in one sector. The company takes on projects from automotive, autosport, aerospace, electronics, medical or energy, plus all types of mouldmaking and press tool manufacture.
The ability of PowerMill to supply high-quality programs across different types of machine, different applications and different materials has been essential at A&M EDM. "We started using the software soon after we bought the first Hurcos,” remembered Mark. "I knew about PowerMill from a previous company and had always thought it was good software. I’ve never regretted that decision; it has always done everything that we needed across all the different types of work we have to tackle.”
The quality of the toolpaths from the software is also important. "The level of machining we get with PowerMill is second to none, especially in terms of the surface finish we can achieve,” stated Mark. "The toolpaths are also very efficient. This is essential when we are machining parts from solid as we sometimes need to remove up to 90% of the initial material.”
As well as offering a flexible range of equipment, A&M staff are trained in multiple skills to support the wide range of projects. "The team in the machining area are not just machine operators; they do their own programming and setting,” Mark explained. "We have taken people that were expert machinists but had no computer experience, and soon had them programming our five-axis machines with PowerMill.”
As well as praising Autodesk software, Mark also thanked the staff in the company’s Birmingham offices. "The sales staff are very good and really know what they are talking about, while the support team is excellent,” he commented. "Any problems we have are sorted out very quickly. This is essential for any business like ours that has built its reputation on fast delivery.”