Aerospace Dynamics International (ADI) manufactures large components such as aircraft
wing spars and bulkheads and panels for the space shuttle’s external fuel tanks. Due to their
large size and critical applications, these parts can be difficult to machine. ‘Our parts are very
large and we must hold extremely close tolerances,’ explains Brian Carlson, NC Programming
Manager at ADI. ‘Yet our customers are raising the bar higher and higher each year in terms of how soon they expect delivery.’
The installation of seven seats of NX CAM gave ADI the combination of fast programming
and complete motion control needed to meet customers’ tight delivery schedules. NX CAM’s
developer, Siemens PLM Software, pioneered high-speed machining (HSM) technology,
working in conjunction with machine tool and controller manufacturers. For jobs that require
HSM on five-axis machines, NX CAM has become ADI’s software of choice.
In the past, ADI’s programmers used either an Automatically Programmed Tool (APT)-like NC
programming language to code toolpath motion by hand or an earlier-generation graphical CAM program.
Having CAM software that can create complex toolpaths accurately saves ADI a great deal
of time. Programming for space shuttle fuel panels used to take 10 days per panel with hand
coding. With NX CAM, one panel (the last in a series of six) was recently programmed in only
‘That was very fast, but all six were perfect to plan,’ Carlson says. ‘The motion was every bit as
good as hand-written code.’
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