Brad Kuvin Brad Kuvin
Editorial Director

Partner Content
CNC Punch Programming Efficiency

November 28, 2023

YC Precision Fabrication established roots in York, PA, in 1902. Known then as York Corrugating Co., it manufactured gutters and corrugated roofing and siding. In 1917 YC established a metal stamping division and began to fabricate replacement fenders for the Ford Model T and for Indian motorcycles. Fast forward to today and we find the 121-yr.-old company operating a full-service metal-fabrication shop out of a 177,000-sq.-ft. facility outfitted with machinery for laser cutting, CNC punching, press brake bending, assembly and welding, and finishing.

YC Precision Trumpf PunchingWe’re here to meet with the firm’s CNC laser/punch programming and SolidWorks designer Dustin Reeves, the man that toils behind the scenes to keep the orders moving efficiently through the production process. Reeves works tirelessly, starting early each morning preparing programs for a seemingly endless onslaught of incoming orders for customers in numerous industries, including military, heavy equipment and automotive, as well as for manufacturers of HVAC and commercial appliance equipment. 

Efficient Programming Catalyzes Shop Productivity

Reeves’ primary responsibility: Optimize efficiency of the firm’s sheet metal processing operations by quickly moving new jobs through programming functions on the front end. That means turning CAD files into nests for sheet metal blanks destined either for laser cutting or CNC punching operations, often followed by press brake bending.

The YC sheet metal shop features, among other equipment, two 10-kW fiber-laser cutting machines and a pair of CNC punching machines, both automated TruPunch models from Trumpf equipped to run lights out—which, says Reeves, the firm does nearly every day, sometimes for more than 10 hr. after first shift ends its workday. The two punching machines:

  • TruPunch 5000, 24-ton punching capacity with 2500 by 1250-mm working range and 8-mm maximum workpiece thickness, equipped to handle 18 tools and three clamps, and able to drop parts as large as 80 by 50 mm through the chute.
  • TruPunch 3000, 22-ton punching capacity and also for sheet to 2500 by 1250 mm and with 18-tool capacity, with sheet thickness capacity to 6.4 mm and maximum part size of 180-mm square for dropping through the chute.

“I often program jobs to run on both machines,” Reeves says, “to provide as much flexibility to the floor and to scheduling as possible.” He notes that the firm’s sweet spot in terms of material thickness ranges from very thin sheet to around 11 gauge.

Order size varies from one nested sheet to as many as 150 sheets—that’s the type of job that will run lights-out unattended. 

sheet nest YC Precision“We have one repeat job, for example,” Reeves explains, “that requires 143 sheets of material with seven parts nested per sheet. These are fan decks for tractor-trailers and the sheet nests include stiffening ribs. Each sheet takes 20 min. in the punching machine, so these jobs can run continuously for a couple of days.”

The Perfect Programming Partner

Reeves’ programming partner: Trumpf’s TruTops software, and more specifically, the latest version of the software, called TruTops Boost, which YC Precision upgraded to late in 2022. TruTops Boost, according to Trumpf, merges the steps needed to complete production of sheet metal parts—cutting, punching and bending—into a single set of programs encompassing design and machine programming, at the touch of a button. It’s used for 2D and 3D design and programming, and quickens the process of moving from part geometry to complete NC program.

“The software also includes full 3D CAD design functionality,” adds Reeves. It’s also able to subdivide an assembly into separate parts and automatically set them up for processing, according to Trumpf, including automatic unfolding of the parts and preparation of the bending program. 

“The time savings can be significant when compared to previous softwares,” Reeves explains. “And, I also appreciate the ease of saving newly created custom shapes into the library for use in future part nests. In addition, the software captures the process for cutting a unique geometry and automatically applies it when I place the shape into a nest. That’s a big time saver, as well.”

In another instance, to illustrate the gain in programming efficiency from using TruTops Boost, Reeves describes a part with dozens of tapped holes. “That part seemingly used every size tap that Trumpf offers, he shares, “and I’d spend a lot of time manually entering the tapping parameters based on the material thickness. All of that now is built into Boost, automating all of what used to require manual data entry.

Smart Nesting and Sequencing

“I also find the software to be very smart when it comes to nesting and then sequencing operations in the punching machines,” Reeves continues. “This proves particularly beneficial when programming parts with perforations, perhaps with a series of dozens of ¼-in. staggered holes. I used to have to place the hole centerpoints manually—very taxing. Boost does this automatically, saving hours of programming time.”

When it comes to nesting, the Boost Lean Nesting processor, says Reeves, generally has resulted in about a 20-percent improvement in material utilization. As described by Trumpf, the Lean Nest nesting processor and its optimized nesting algorithms take the nesting parameters of each specific job into account, such as the start corner, distance between parts and sheet margins. “The result,” Reeves says, “is better layouts in significantly less time than before.”

Lastly, Reeves appreciates the ability to program marking functions using Boost. “We use the TruTops marking software to mark assembly instructions onto parts, to make it easier for assembly, either downstream here at the plant or by our customers in the field,” he says. “For example, a lot of parts and assemblies come with hardware kits, so I can program etchings around holes to serve as hardware identifiers, indicating the fasteners that are needed. Or in the case of right- and left-hand panels we can identify those as well, again so that assemblers don’t need to refer to part prints.” MF

Industry-Related Terms: Bending, CAD, Case, CNC, Corner, Hardware, LASER, Material Utilization, Model, NC, Nesting, Run, Tapping, Thickness
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms


See also: TRUMPF Inc.

Technologies: Software, CNC Punching, Cutting


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