MoldMaking Technology

DEC 2018

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Page 16 of 50 15 Images courtesy of Mitutoyo. Some operators use in-machine probing to measure and compensate for this inaccuracy, but not all machine tools are fitted with this type of technology. Real-time SPC soft- ware can collect data from many sources, including coordi- nate measuring machines, non-contact and vision metrolo- gy and traditional hand tools like calipers and micrometers. This flexibility eliminates the need for new equipment investment as it enables users to begin this type of activity using existing gauges. All of this data can then be compared to the mold's specifications and sent back to the CAD/CAM software to compensate the program. Measuring mold components before and after polishing can tell machinists how much material to leave for surface treatment. Polishing is required to meet stringent surface finish specifications, making it a very important part of the moldmaking process. However, multiple operators typi- cally perform this process by hand, and each polisher may remove different amounts of material as they perform their work, despite having proper training and employing stan- dardized techniques. This can result in molds producing subtly different parts and inconsistencies that do not meet a customer's require- ments. The solution is measuring samples before and after each step of the polishing process to determine the amount of material that the polishing removed. Real-time SPC soft- ware collects and filters this data by the individual worker, which makes it possible for machinists to compensate for the mold components meet the customer's needs, it makes it possible for companies to reduce scrap and rework. Intelligent Moldmaking Data collection and real-time statistical process control (SPC) software collect data from most gauges regardless of sophistication or brand. The software then communicates the data to the same infrastructure as the rest of a shop's connected devices. Here are a few examples of ways that moldmakers can use this tool to maximize intelligent manufacturing. Moldmakers use several techniques to produce their products, such as CNC machining, additive machining, EDM and wire cutting. Many mold components also require surface treatments and polishing. A great variety of metrol- ogy equipment is used to measure these components. However, too many shops do not use this data beyond veri- fying part conformance. Moldmakers should use data collection and real-time SPC software to collect measurement data and then relay it back to the CAD/CAM software to refine part programs, which ultimately yields more accurate parts. Many moldmakers are using software to increase CNC programming accuracy and throughput, but there are a large number of variables to take into account when machining complex molds. Many of these programmers are finding that the finished mold does not always match the model. As manufacturers move to collect process data, they need to ensure that they do not overlook measurement data. The collection and analysis of measurement data can yield tangible improvements to any process.

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