From firm engineering foundations an ambitious aerospace business takes off with VERICUT

Quickly establishing a reputation as one of the fastest growing aerospace suppliers in Turkey, KP Aerospace has aggressive plans for further business success. To achieve this goal the family-owned business employs highly educated and motivate staff, and has invested in world-class machine tool technology. Protecting the business reputation, as well as its manufacturing equipment, is CGTech’s CNC simulation, verification and optimisation software, VERICUT.

KP Aerospace
Turkish Air Force A400M features parts machined by KP Aerospace

Over a third of the 110 staff employed by KP Aerospace are educated to university degree level and above. They work at the company’s impressive 15,000 m2 machine shop and assembly facility in Ankara, Turkey. Here, the business produces more than 1,100 different components for 15 civil and defence fixed and rotary wing aircraft programmes, including Airbus A400M, Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and TAI T129 Attack Helicopter, AugustaWestland, Bell Helicopter, Bombardier and Sikorsky.

For some customers, the company is the single source supply and it produces 35,000 parts each year. The precision machining of all these components requires 650 tonnes of aluminium and 30 tonnes of hard to machine material annually.

As an aerospace company the business is relatively young, having set up its dedicated aerospace facility in 2005, with 21 staff and three DMG machining centres turning over $1 million per year. However, the company can trace its engineering roots back to 1975, when two brothers started KucukPazarli – the KP in the aerospace business name – Mould and Die.

“The transition from mould and die to aerospace started in 1998, with the production of parts for Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI). As Turkey’s leading aerospace company, TAI had a vision to expand its capabilities and produce complete aircraft. To achieve this requires good industrial partners. They approached us to machine some parts; these were test parts to prove our capability before more work was placed with us. TAI provided technical support and positive pressure for our growth, so the idea to form a company in the aerospace sector became a reality,” explains Mechanical Process Engineer, Taha Kucukpazarli.

Having qualified as an approved supplier to TAI in 2001, the companies agreed a formal strategic partnership in 2006. KP Aerospace has expanded annually, investing in new technology and training for new and existing staff, with production volumes increasing by over 25 per cent each year.

Taha Kucukpazarli says: “Today, we have gold supplier awards and generate $20 million per year. Our vision to be one of the leading aerospace companies in Turkey, participating in major international projects, to satisfy the customers with eager and well-educated employees using new technologies efficiently. The dream is an annual business of $50 million by 2017.”

KP Aerospace
KP Aerospace’s impressive machine shop is protected by VERICUT

Having purchased around Euro 10 million worth of new machine tools in recent years, including 4.5 million Euro for three new ultra rigid horizontal machines installed in 2013, KP Aerospace is progressing towards its vision.

As well as the new horizontal machines, a total of 24 DMG-Mori and a number of large capacity Matec 5-axis gantry machining centres populate the company’s impressive workshop. All the programming for the 3- and 5-axis machine tools is done in the CAM office using both Catia V5 and 11 seats of Siemens NX software. Most customers send CAD files to work from and the engineers also use AutoCAD for 2D draughting of set-up drawings and so on.

With the increasing complexity and value of the components and machine tools, as well as the security of supply required by the customers, KP Aerospace invest in two licences of VERICUT from CGTech’s Turkish reseller, Ucgen Yazilim, in May 2013. Having seen the simulation and verification software working at TAI, the management team made the decision to invest in all the VERICUT modules, including multi-axis verification and machine simulation, AutoDiff, and the interface for Siemens NX CAM software.

KP Aerospace
Engineers in CAM office check NC files using VERICUT

When the software was purchased, Managing Partner, Cem Alpay, provided the staff training and the machine tool models for all the DMG machines. However, when the new horizontal machines were purchased the VERICUT models were requested from the machine tool supplier. Not just 3D CAD models but full VERICUT simulation models were specified.

For hard metal machining, a new machine with high torque drives and a high speed spindle specifically for titanium machining has been purchased. This has also been requested with a full VERICUT model. It has become part of the company’s procedure to ask for both the NX post processor and the VERICUT model. “As more and more machine tool partners around the world realise the benefits of their customers using VERICUT to protect their machine tool investments, they are increasingly willing to support the requests for machine simulation models,” confirms CGTech’s Managing Director, John Reed.

“When programs are completed in the CAM office the NC code must be checked by VERICUT before they are issued to the shopfloor. It is our procedure now, and now the operators ask the engineers if the program has been checked with VERICUT,” says Process Engineer Hakan Torlak.

He continues: “Set-up times have been reduced thanks to VERICUT, especially with the new horizontal machines. Its design is kinematic so it makes a lot of rotational axes moves, and any error could very easily damage the part or the machine tool. These moves can be accurately simulated using VERICUT.”

KP Aerospace
VERICUT confirms code to operate 5-axis machine tool is safe

Also, most customer free issue the raw material, so scrapping a part is not an option. All the fixturing and cutting tool data is taken directly into VERICUT via the interface, and any special attachments used, such as right-angle heads, have been modelled and are taken into the verification software to prove every aspect of the manufacturing process.

The mould and die company still operates today, with 26 people using 3- and 5-axis machining programmed with Siemens NX. “Mould and die is in our history,” Taha Kucukpazarli says. “We remember our roots and will not turn our back on our tradition.”

Taha Kucukpazarli concludes: “If you wish to lead the sector you have to invest in your capability. This investment is also important to help attract the right staff to commit to working with our company. With VERICUT we are protecting our investment and our gold supplier standard, which are all linked to our ambitious plans for future growth.”

Article published in MSI Magazine, August 2014