Established in 1985, Wepco Plastics specializes in short-run prototype injection molds in aluminum and steel. The company has grown to more than 45 employees who work at the 10,000 square foot facility in Middlefield, Conn. In the fall of 2008, Wally and David Parmelee (Wepco owners) found themselves at a cross roads in terms of milling capacity for their tool room. Should they continue with their current milling technology (a known quantity with zero learning curve) or invest in the future by purchasing a higher performance machine? They knew this decision would impact their tooling and in-house molding business for many years to come. Introducing new technology to a shop always presents a learning curve, which is an inherent risk, but new technology can also promote growth. For Wepco, the reward of reduced cycle times and increased productivity, which enabled them to book more jobs per week without sacrificing quality, was worth the risk.Pre-Purchase: Identify What MattersWhen Wally and David decided to break stride with their current equipment and purchased a Hurco VMX30 machining center from Brooks Associates (Norwell, MA), four factors were paramount to their decision-making process: a control with an open architecture, mechanical design, local service, and customer references.
Can you measure the benefits of new technology?The decision to move forward and invest in new technology proved advantageous for Wepco. The Hurco VMX30 delivered superior performance and part quality in a fraction of normal cycle times. Wepco primarily focuses on aluminum molds for prototype and short-run batches. The dual-wound 12,000 rpm spindle of the Hurco VMX30, coupled with Hurco’s new motion control system called UltiMotion™, drastically re¬duced total part cycle time by as much as 200-300% in some cases with no loss of accuracy or finish. Before UltiMotion™ Wepco would finish machine at 40 ipm. With UltiMotion, they are able finish machine at rates from 125-350 ipm! According to David, he believes productivity will continue to improve, “We have really started to focus on pushing the machines to see what they can really do, and I have to tell you that every day we do something that just blows us away. With the UltiMotion, along with tweaking our post to make segmented or linear moves, we are achieving extremely high feed rates up to 800 ipm. As an example, we had a cut that would have been at least 100 hours long on our old machines that we did in 30 hours and I believe that we could even cut that in half. We finish cut the cores with a .0469 end mill ground back .500 at 100 ipm. We could have easily doubled the speed and got the same results. And I don't have to polish the mold! The finish is that good!”
These productivity gains yield increased profit margin for existing jobs and additional capacity due to increased throughput. For example, a 30% productivity gain turns a 40 hour work week into at 52 hour week in terms of throughput with zero overtime for labor and zero increase in debt service on the equipment.The VMX30 also offered opportunities for Wepco to expand its capabilities. For example, due to the rigidity and spindle speed of the VMX30, they can do hard milling on inserts. Wepco routinely machines 58 Rc mold inserts made from S7 tool steel. Parts come off the machine ready for assembly in the mold. Success with this type of material is due to advanced cutter technology and the Hurco UltiMotion™ software, which optimizes machin¬ing rpm and feed rates based on part geometry. UltiMotion™ routinely reduces cycle times on 3D programs by as much as 40%. How UltiMotion WorksAccording to Hurco engineers, this new technology from Hurco utilizes the power of software for motion control instead of relying on hardware. The secret to UltiMotion is the advanced trajectory algorithm in the software that generates significantly faster yet smoother motion than any hardware only solution. While there are numerous technical details, some of the straightforward results include cornering velocity that is 2.5 times faster than conventional motion, 50% less machine jerk, and a patented dynamic variable lookahead mechanism that doesn’t require a fixed number of blocks. Instead, the control evaluates the geometry and motion profile and makes sure there is enough lookahead information to make optimized maneuvers. This lookahead mechanism of UltiMotion is another reason why better surface quality can be obtained in a shorter period of time.
Going ForwardWepco was so encouraged by the productivity of the VMX30 that they added a second Hurco VMC shortly thereafter (Hurco VMX24). Both machines have proven to be reliable sources of production for Wepco’s tool room as they continue to grow. Wepco attributes this growth attention to detail and quality, as well as customer satisfaction by diligently following specifications, meeting delivery dates and offering competitive prices on short run injection molding.WEPCO Plastics, Inc.27 Industrial Park Access Rd.P.O.Box 182Middlefield, Connecticut 06455(860) email@example.comBrook Associates300 Longwater Dr.Norwell, Massachusetts 02061(781) 871-3400Brooks Associatessales@brooksmachinery.comHurco Companies, Inc. 1.800.634.2416One Technology WayP.O. Box 68180Indianapolis, IN firstname.lastname@example.orgWindows® is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and other countries.UltiMotionTM is a trademark of Hurco Companies, Inc.
Great Yarmouth-based subcontractor, Moughton Engineering Services, has enjoyed 30 per cent annual growth for the last three years and hopes to repeat that performance in 2006.
Paul Moughton, a partner in the family-owned company, says that the upturn in the company’s business can be traced back to 2002 when his father, Brian, used money from his pension fund to purchase a Hurco Hawk 30 CNC mill.
“Our parts became more complex and the need for faster turnaround times increased, so we decided to bring the work inside. We needed a compact, easy-to-use, and yet powerful machining center. Hurco’s VM1 filled the bill completely.”
Erin Mills Machine and Tool Works Ltd. is a 17-year-old shop in Mississauga, Ontario that specializes in custom mold making and machining work.
The three-man shop, founded by Harry Mistry, has a mix of manual machines and CNCs running on Fanuc controls. In general, Harry has been pleased with the quality of parts produced on his existing machines. However, set-up times and program times are much too long to stay competitive. More and more of their work is becoming small lot size, requiring quick turnaround.
The operator of the new TM8 has quickly become very comfortable with the control and has already reduced programming times for short and medium runs. In addition, he really likes the verification graphics that allows him to see the cuts on the screen before they are made, virtually eliminating wasted material, wasted time and errors. Harry has been so pleased with the TM8 that he plans to add a Hurco VM2 vertical machining center to compliment the lathe.