CIMdata PLM Industry Summary Online Archive

24 June 2009

Implementation Investments

Delcam’s PowerMILL Helps Owens Industries Make the “Impossible” Possible

Any manufacturing company that claims to be able to make the “impossible” possible needs some powerful software and Owens Industries is no exception. The company, which is based in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, uses Delcam’s PowerMILL CAM software to produce complex parts to very tight tolerances that its competitors are incapable of achieving.

Owens provides its machining services a wide range of industries including oil and gas, aerospace and medical. “One thing that all our customers have in common is that they all have highly-demanding requirements,” claimed Mark Plesnik, Vice President of Owens. “Quality, rather than cost, tends to be their main priority.”

Owens specialises in small to medium production runs. “The longest run we have ever done was 1,000 parts but we typically make only five or ten components of any design,” said Mr. Plesnik. The company also specialises in exotic materials, in particular titanium and Inconel, and in smaller, more complex parts. The combination of complex shapes and difficult-to-machine materials means that customers often come to Owens after a project has failed or has been turned away by other shops.

It was one such project that led to Owens move to PowerMILL – a particularly challenging safety valve for down-hole oil and gas drilling. As with many of Owens projects, the customer had already tried to source the parts from two other possible suppliers. The first had given up before completing a single part; the second produced three components but they all failed their quality tests. More unusually, even the staff at Owens were having difficulties in meeting the tolerances required with their existing software

“We were really struggling with the project so we approached our local Delcam reseller, Programming Plus, to see if the people there could do any better,” admitted Mr. Plesnik. “We promised to buy two seats of PowerMILL if they could provide programs that would machine the parts to the strict tolerances we needed. The results were immaculate and our customer was delighted. We knew that we couldn’t have completed the project without the Delcam software so we were happy to make the purchase.”

“Looking back, I think we had realised for a while that we had needed new software ever since we had added our simultaneous five-axis machines,” added Mr. Plesnik. “Since we installed PowerMILL, we have been able to do everything much more quickly. With our previous software, a typical programming job used to take a week. Now, if anything takes two days, we think that’s a long time. In addition, the toolpaths are more efficient so the parts are produced more quickly.”

One example of the increased speed was a project to produce 25 parts for an aircraft braking system. Owens had been making similar components for the customer for fifteen years but the new project required a modified design. “With our previous software, the new parts would have taken two months to produce,” said Mr. Plesnik. “With PowerMILL, because of the faster programming and the quicker machining, they took two weeks.”

Another benefit of the increased accuracy with PowerMILL has been a reduced need for EDM finishing. Many more parts can be milled to the required finish, so saving the cost and time that used to be needed to produce the specified surface quality with EDM.

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