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Atlas profits from reengineering

The tool and die market has been changing, and Atlas Tool -- with help from Tebis technology -- has found a way to profit from it.

Atlas Tool Inc. (Roseville, MI) is not your typical stamping shop. In addition to innovative programs for tooling and part production for all types of stamped sheet metal parts, they’ve gained a name for themselves as leading stamping die experts, with advanced die build, repair, and reengineering capabilities. In recent years that last category -- die reengineering, essentially recreating the die, or its CAD data -- has been growing in importance.

Michael Thiessen, Tebis Sales Manager, West Coast, for software provider Tebis America, Inc., (Troy, MI) has watched this change take place and explains the reason for its growth. “The North American tool & die landscape has been changing, with die shops making fewer new builds because so many large customers have chosen to cut costs by having their dies built overseas.” That, however, doesn’t mean there’s a shortage of work.

“The demand for reengineering is greatly increased due to the fact that tools returning from overseas very often are missing engineering changes that have been requested. In other instances, changes may have been made in the building process -- changes that may, in fact, be beneficial but are not reflected in the documentation. Also, there may be quality issues that need to be addressed. In situations like these, shops use sophisticated tools to evaluate the current state of the tool and identify the necessary modifications in order to complete the work.”

Walt Tadday, Atlas CAD/CAM Manager working with Tebis BREP Suite of software for creating, adapting, repairing and optimizing CAD surfaces.Walt Tadday, Atlas CAD/CAM Manager working with Tebis BREP Suite of software for creating, adapting, repairing and optimizing CAD surfaces.

  • The reengineering response

    “This is one of the areas in which Atlas shines,” says Thiessen. Atlas has been a Tebis customer for several years, and Thiessen has worked closely with them on reengineering issues.

    “When a die comes into our shop from overseas with issues or questions,” says Walt Tadday, CAD/CAM manager for Atlas, “we use our Atos triple scanner to generate a point cloud that is output as a mesh model of the die surface. This gives us an accurate CAD data of the tool that’s sitting there on our shop floor, despite the potentially faulty documentation.”

    And it’s not just foreign made dies that benefit from this process. “Our North American customers send us dies that have been in operation for some time and are in need of repair. The scan will enable us to detect whether or not a die is worn in certain areas due to production, or has other surface imperfections.

    “In addition,” says Tadday, “we will make spares. When a die has been running continuously the details will also get worn. Scanning generates an accurate solid model of their current condition so that we can them bring it back to their original or current state.”

    It’s clear that scanning can be an essential tool in reengineering, but it’s not the end of the process. “The next step is to take this mass of scanned data and convert it into a high quality surface,” notes Michael Thiessen. “That’s where Tebis comes in; specifically, our Tebis BREP software.” BREP is a suite of software for creating, adapting, repairing or optimizing CAD surfaces.

    One of four stamping bays at Atlas tool with stamping presses to 2500 ton.One of four stamping bays at Atlas tool with stamping presses to 2500 ton.

  • Quality surfaces

    When scan data is available, why is it necessary to have BREP in order to create the desired surfaces? “The surface created by the mesh data is essentially like the pattern on the surface of a soccer ball -- a series of pentagons,” says Thiessen. “As a result, you can’t generate highly accurate curves. In addition, when you scan an item with sharp corners you discover some built-in inaccuracies. Scanners can’t identify sharp corners due to the triangulation of the data; instead they approximate with small radii, and then it takes tools provided by Tebis to create a sharp corner.”

    “We utilize Tebis BREP software to convert this scan data into high quality surface data that enables us to make adjustments, morphing or coordination of moves that you can’t perform on a mesh,” says Atlas’ Tadday. “BREP creates a high quality surface, clean curves, and sets them to the desired tolerances. The final product is data that I can open up in any CAD system.”

    “In addition,” says Tadday, “mesh creates a surface that can be very ‘heavy.’” That is, the representation of the part’s surface is created using many smaller surfaces (as with those pentagons mentioned earlier). This added “weight” can be a problem when generating toolpaths, and especially when trying to put spring-back or coordination moves back into the tool. “A Tebis BREP surface, by comparison, is ‘light,’ which makes it easier to do a lot of things, including putting these modifications back into the original tooling.”

    Quality control area at Atlas.Quality control area at Atlas.

    Atlas takes these surfaces created by Tebis BREP and transfers them into their Unigraphics or CATIA systems, followed by the generation of the needed machine tool programs. “Tebis BREP is integrated with the Tebis CAD and manufacturing software, so the entire process -- from working with the initial scan data to CNC program creation -- could be handled in Tebis, but we decided to go with our Unigraphics and CATIA software because we have been working with them for many years,” says Tadday, “but it’s all pretty seamless because Tebis has excellent conversion into CATIA and Unigraphics.”

    Thiessen adds that BREP features easy conversion into a host of other CAD programs as well.

    Machining of one of the typical dies at Atlas.Machining of one of the typical dies at Atlas.

  • Old dies, quick response

    Though the difficulties arising from global manufacturing spurred the initial spurt in reengineering, innovative firms like Atlas continue to find increasing applications. Along with those mentioned above, Tadday notes that “sometimes customers send us dies that are not only worn but actually cracked or even broken. We then import the scan data into Tebis software using the BREP tool to clean up those surfaces and gives us an accurate view of what we are dealing with so we can quickly make the needed repairs.

    One of the over 40 stamping presses at Atlas stamping an automotive  part.One of the over 40 stamping presses at Atlas stamping an automotive part.

    “In addition,” he continues, “with some of the older dies the manufacturer is no longer in business so the CAD data is difficult or impossible to get. However, these dies are still in production. Dies in production may need to be repaired or perhaps modified to accommodate changes to the part. This would be an extremely time consuming process without Tebis BREP software.”

    Tadday mentioned that the time element, is a crucial factor in manufacturing and profitability. “Time savings! Tebis is the winner when it comes to generating quality surfaces. Tebis BREP is at least 85% faster than our old method.”

     

Overview

Quote

Time savings! Tebis is the winner when it comes to generating quality surfaces. Tebis BREP is at least 85% faster than our old method.

Features

Focus:

Reverse Engineering: Scan data converts into a high-quality surface that enables engineers to make changes.

Benefits:

  • Can repair, refurbish, and recreate dies with BREP software
  • Tebis BREP software is 85% faster than old method
  • Allows company to build spare dies in case of emergencies

Sector:

Die manufacturing

Company:

Atlas Tool Inc.

Location:

Roseville, MI, United States

Interviewee:

Walt Tadday

Position:

CAD/CAM Manager

Published:

2016

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