Houston based Reed Instrument Company has a well deserved reputation for excellence in machining parts and components for both major petroleum exploration companies and the aviation and aerospace industries.
Reed specializes in machining small volume (fewer than 500 pieces) and prototype parts. “Throughout the 1990s the jobs that we were getting from our main line customers were becoming increasingly complex and were taxing our programming and machining capabilities,” says Steve Novoty, NC foreman at Reed Instrument. “We had always preferred and used customer supplied blueprints as the source of our programming input.”
By late ‘98 the volume of more technically challenging jobs prompted Alan Reed, owner, to begin shopping for CAM programming that would increase machine productivity. That search brought them to Texas Offline, Inc. and GibbsCAM. After studying available software, talking to other shop owners, and following the recommendation of a major customer, he had Jason Heyse, from Texas Offline, Inc. come into the shop and give a shop-floor demonstration.
“Jason was really sharp. He brought in the program on his laptop and we gave him some actual parts that we couldn’t have programmed in an adequate manner." says Scott McClintock, CNC programmer for Reed Instrument. “The part that we gave him had to be machined from scratch from an aluminum bullet, using a casting blueprint as the reference to program the part. With no previous familiarity, Jason was able to create a program in 45 minutes that would have taken us two days, at least 20 hours, to produce.”
Very impressed by the demonstration, and having already compared the features of competitive software offerings, Reed didn’t waste time looking further.
Apparently the decision was made just in time. One of Reed’s major customers began demanding that their parts, previously supplied to Reed as formed pieces, now had to be sculpted from scratch.
“The Virtual Gibbs programming provided a solution that was absolutely critical to our meeting the customer’s requirement on those parts at that time,” McClintock, said. “ The capability of the Gibbs program to accept Parasolids and ACIS files as direct input from the customer’s CAD and to automatically generate error-free cutting programs from a solid model file was a real benefit. It freed us from having to interpret and program the complex part geometry that this job required from a blueprint,” Scott added.
With Reed Instrument's diversity in machinery, productivity is increased dramatically by the ability to move jobs from one machine to another. The GibbsCAM software allows program changes to be made quickly and without effort. Programs written for one machine can be transferred to another machine without any problem because of the wide range of postprocessors available.
Reed Instrument Co credits its decision to upgrade to new-generation CAM software as being a significant factor in maintaining a stable level of business in the face of volatile regional economy. With few employees they were still able to increase annual sales. They feel they are working smarter instead of harder.
Complete article can be found in the April 2000 issue of Machine Shop Guide.