Aerospace Manufacturer Soars to Success

AVCORP Industries Inc. is a Canadian single source-supplier for design, fabrication and assembly of metal, composite and plastic components for global aerospace and high-technology markets. The company’s aerostructures division is located in British Columbia. Among its customers are Bell Helicopter, Boeing, Bombardier and Northrop Gruman. Formed in 1986, AVCORP has four divisions and employs approximately 1000 people.

AVCORP recently designed, manufactured and assembled both vertical and horizontal stabilizers for the new 70-seater BOMBARDIER Regional Jet. In total there were over a thousand machined parts made, about 20 percent of which were five axis. Just prior to receiving the contract, AVCORP added a number of new machines (multi-axis and 4-axis machining cells) to their shop, bringing the total number of CNC machines up to 13.

The task of creating the programs to machine all the parts rested on the shoulders of the company’s 15 NC programmers. To help with the project, the programming department relied on VERICUT. “We chose VERICUT because of its accuracy and power, and because of its excellent compatibility with CATIA,” said senior programmer Mark Ergetowski. “Also, because we can run the software from inside CATIA the programming process becomes more streamlined with the verification.”

AVCORP incorporated VERICUT into the manufacturing process in early 1998. Before implementing VERICUT, the company experienced the usual time-consuming and expensive manufacturing problems related to NC program prove-outs such as scrap loss, broken tooling, and a danger of occasional machine crash.

“The biggest advantage to using VERICUT is the fact that we save a lot of machine time, and the machines are kept busy on production work rather than being tied up on prove-outs,” said Ergetowski. “We’ve also really reduced the amount of scrapped parts and don’t have to worry about machine crashes anymore. There’s very little downtime.”

During the project, VERICUT helped a lot in visualizing the cutting process right on the screen. We found out that the software mimics precisely every cutter movement so we were able to catch many programming mistakes right at source,” said Ergetowski.

They ran approximately 200 five-axis parts through VERICUT. “By using VERICUT to prove-out the programs vs. machining a test part we saved up to two days per part – not to mention the material/tooling losses and potential for machine crashes.” However, since nothing is perfect, they did scrap a few parts during the project; but later investigation showed that due to the learning curve they simply omitted the errors that VERICUT had detected. When the project was over, they determined that VERICUT saved them many hundreds hours of production time, and they did not have a single machine crash during the entire project!

“Our entire department is obviously very happy!” Considering the success or using VERICUT to prove-out their new five-axis parts, AVCORP is now starting to use VERICUT to prove-out the G-codes on its three-axis programs as well. “We’re really pleased with our results, and we’re looking forward to future versions that should help us even more time and money,” said Ergetowski.