The Simulation SAFETY NET
KaleAero explains how CGTech’s Vericut simulation software provides a ‘safety net’ to help its programmers avoid the pitfalls of machine tool collisions.
Turkish company KaleAero says it has become an important manufacturer in the aerospace sector, but points out that it would not have achieved this without investing in CGTech’s Vericut advanced machine tool simulation software.
Based in Tuzla, Istanbul, KaleHavacılık Sanayi AS (KaleAero) employs over 230 people and operates more than 30 CNC machine tools, mainly 5-axis with some 3- and 4-axis machines. The company machines high precision, midsized structural aerospace components, predominantly cut from aluminium, titanium and stainless steel.
When KaleAero decided to invest in 5-axis machine tools it conducted benchmark visits to established aerospace companies’ facilities in the UK and USA for demonstrations of the manufacturing equipment.
“Although each company had a different operational style, different machine types and even different CAD/CAM solutions, almost all of them used Vericut,” explains production and engineering manager Selim Erol. “This was the uniting element. From our observations we knew that Vericut must be used and a visit from CGTech was arranged to demonstrate the benefits of the software. The decision to invest in Vericut is one of the best things we have done on our journey towards our company goals.”
KaleAero’s engineering team faces the challenge of using its CAD/CAM solution, CATIA 5 at an expert level to create NC cutting tool paths for the production of 5-axis components using the best tooling and fixturing to aerospace geometric tolerances. As well as operating CATIA 5, the engineers must operate Vericut to the same high standard. All of the programs, even revisions, cannot be run on the machine tools without verification of the NC code from Vericut.
“If you don’t use Vericut to check for collisions, gouges and undercuts you will need to run several scrap parts before you get one that is correct,” continues Erol. “And, you risk damaging your machine tools. With First Article Inspection Reports that are linked to serial production runs tied to milestone project dates, quality is expected so delivery must be achieved. We always aim to make the component right first time, even with complex aerostructure parts, and Vericut helps us achieve this goal.”
CAD models are supplied by the customer and KaleAero applies the machining strategies to generate the NC cutting tool path from CATIA 5 before Vericut is launched within CATIA. With the CATIA to Vericut interface, all the data is efficiently transferred to Vericut and the programs run simultaneously. Following correct verification, the NC code can be uploaded to the server.
Vericut machine tool models have been created by KaleAero from the CAD models from its machine tool suppliers. However, for complex machines, CGTech provided modelling support. KaleAero uses different Vericut simulation program modules to match its needs. The company has three seats of Vericut containing three modules of Verification, Multi-Axis and Machine Simulation; two modules of Auto-Diff; and one module of CATIA to Vericut interface, as well as Optipath.
KaleAero recently secured a contract to supply around 200 structural components for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
“Without Vericut we could not have made it to our current position,” concludes Erol. “Imagine what could happen with an inexperienced programmer creating NC code for complex, expensive machine tools without using Vericut. I’m pleased to say that thanks to Vericut we have not suffered a major machine crash. Of course our machine tools are covered by a company insurance policy, but the real insurance is provided by Vericut.”
Article published in Aerospace Manufacturing, January 2012 [PDF]
Article published in Machinery Aerospace, February 2012 [PDF]