The Competitive Edge: Creating Die Surfaces

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Metalforming involves the creation of surfaces which, depending on their complexity, requires adjustments be made at the right time and according to the desired level of precision and quality. Well aware of this fact: The technicians working at Fontana Pietro’s engineering department, where many an automotive stamping die is designed and manufactured.

Among the features of AutoForm-ProcessDesignerforCatia is the ability to easily and accurately compute developed flanges.
 Among the features of AutoForm-ProcessDesignerforCatia is the ability to easily and accurately compute developed flanges.
Italy-based Fontana Pietro, known for engineering and building dies, as well as for producing bodies, for several luxury “supercar” brands such as Ferrari, Rolls Royce and Jaguar, employs Catia V5 during die design, according to its website, to “optimize machine programming schedules.” Early in 2013, the firm’s engineers began testing software (AutoForm-ProcessDesignerforCatia) for creating die layouts without having to leave the Catia environment. Having tested the software’s ability to allow engineers to easily and quickly design high-quality die faces, as well as create draw beads and develop secondary die operations, Fontana Pietro decided late in 2014 to adopt the new software within its product-development process.

“We are satisfied with having started this collaboration with AutoForm Engineering,” says Valentina Cavenago, senior die surfaces technician at Fontana Pietro, “to investigate the benefits offered by the new software. From the very beginning it has demonstrated the potential to meet our needs.”

Workflow Standardization

AutoForm-ProcessDesignerforCatia, one of several software products AutoForm offers for the die-making and metalforming industries, enables company-wide workflow standardization and a significant reduction in time needed to create high-quality CAD surfaces. Just ask Giuseppina Milani, Fontana’s die surfaces coordinator.

“Catia has been used in our engineering department for more than 25 years,” he says. “Although it is certainly a powerful system, it unfortunately does not offer solutions for those working in the design and manufacture of stamping dies and, more importantly, it does not fulfill our specific needs.”

The creation of surfaces is becoming a critical aspect in this complex market, where the competitive edge is timing. The Fontana engineering department requires a direct connection—not a manual transition—between the conceptual creation of surfaces carried out by engineers and the creation of surfaces that can immediately be used for CNC machining.

“We had a fast and efficient simulation method based on surfaces created with AutoForm-DieDesignerplus,” notes Fontana R&D engineer Riccardo Brivio. “These surfaces were not easy to handle within CAD. The procedure for creating CAD-quality surfaces for use in CNC machining was slow, complex and time consuming.”

Using AutoForm-ProcessDesignerforCatia for trim-plan definition, trim segmentation automatically accounts for overcut.
Using AutoForm-ProcessDesignerforCatia for trim-plan definition, trim segmentation automatically accounts for overcut.
Enter AutoForm-ProcessDesignerforCatia, the strategic missing link that enables Fontana engineers to create a die layout, including not only the drawing but also all secondary operations, without having to leave the Catia environment.

From Theory to Practice

To assess the operating potential and adaptability of its new software, Fontana engineers carried out thorough tests on a designated project of one production line. At the same time, two additional projects were carried out implementing the strategies currently in use.

“Each of the three projects,” says Cavenago, “went through the same work phases. In the end we noticed that when applying the features of AutoForm-ProcessDesignerforCatia, the designated project clearly showed relevant time savings.”

One benefit not to be underestimated: When compared with a Catia license, this software can be used during the running session by adding the AutoForm-ProcessDesignerforCatia license, every time it is required. At the same time, the software allows for a high quality level of data update.

“Our objective,” continues Cavenago, “is to use AutoForm-ProcessDesignerforCatia with any of our customers’ files. We hope to create an even closer connection between AutoForm-DieDesignerplus and AutoForm-ProcessDesignerforCatia in order to reproduce the parameters already defined during simulation on surfaces or draw beads.”

The Added Value of Quality

Fontana Pietro now has found ways to extend the use of its new software to other departments within the company, such as in die-process engineering. Here, the die-process engineer’s job during early product development is eased thanks to the validity and speed of analysis. This is due to the reuse and reproducibility of data, the efficient exchange of data (internally among departments and externally among OEMs and their suppliers) and the quick creation of die layouts that include drawing as well as all secondary operations.

The various sketches and construction elements used in Catia V5 are assembled in few yet powerful features that allow for easy and rapid surface design. A comprehensible data structure simplifies the use of these new features and improves collaboration internally. The high-quality surfaces created in the software are characterized by a significantly reduced number of control elements and the appropriate surface continuity, say Fontana engineers. These surfaces can immediately be used for further operations, such as over-crowning and CNC machining.

“Over-crowning,” concludes Fontana R & D engineer Guglielmo Oleari, “will be the object of further and future operating strategies within our company. We will generate rules to further reduce the time needed to develop surfaces.” MF

Article provided by AutoForm Engineering;


See also: AutoForm Engineering Gmbh

Related Enterprise Zones: Software, Tool & Die

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