Rapid implementation of sophisticated 5-axis manufacturing capabilities for composites manufacturing tooling.
- Mastercam is easy to learn and use.
- As needed assistance from nearby Reseller.
- Simulation features instantly detect material removal and tool clearance issues.
- Overlaying new geometry accommodates design changes without having to reprogram an entirely new part.
Blue Force Technologies (Morrisville, NC) IS an AS9100C-certified aerospace structure design and development shop. Its specialties include helping large companies develop efficient composite manufacturing processes and providing smaller companies with structures that they would not be able to take on themselves.
“Customers like us because we are fast. But our tool development process was like a duck’s feet under the water. From what the customer saw, we were pretty fast and smooth. When we looked under the water, we were always frantically trying to move tooling blocks around to get outside vendors to machine them,” says company President, Scott Bledsoe.
After being in business for only a year, the company decides to incorporate CNC machining of foam tooling board, aluminum, and cured composites into its fabricating processes. It later took delivery of a CMES ARES 5-Axis Machining Center with a large (15.8′ x 5.9′ x 3.9′) table.
Blue Force needs to get up-to-speed with its CNC manufacturing capability as quickly as possible. The conventional approach would have been to hire an experienced Mastercam programmer and train him or her in the intricacies of composite tool manufacturing. Blue Force decides to go in an entirely different direction by making Mastercam programming the responsibility of its highly experienced Design Engineer, Blain Echols.
Bledsoe says, “Blain already knows what the end product needs to look like. He just has to learn how to interface with the machine using Mastercam.
He got a lot of initial help from their Mastercam Reseller, Barefoot CNC, in terms of a 3-day 5-axis training course along with as-needed technical support, in person, over the phone, and via the Internet. With this help, Blain went from zero knowledge in March to doing some pretty fancy 5-axis machining in a matter of a few months. By May, we were shipping production tooling manufactured on our own equipment to a company in California.”
Customers are noticing the company’s improved ability to provide fast turns on urgent projects. “In aerospace everything is about risk reduction,” Bledsoe says. “The only way to get to risk reduction is to build something and test it. The faster we can get out these parts and tools into our customers’ hands for testing, the more cost-effective our customers can be. Fast turns save our customers a ton of money.”
It seems that aerospace customers like Blue Force Technologies products and services a lot. The company’s orders have quadrupled in the past 12 months.