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Software Helps Midwest Die Shop Design with Ease

Friday, April 1, 2016
 

Housed in an unassuming brick building in the Chicago suburb of Carol Stream, IL, celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2016, DeCore Tool & Manufacturing is a powerhouse hidden in plain sight. Scott DeCore founded the company in 1996. Today the company boasts a staff of 20, including secretary and treasurer Carol DeCore, Scott’s wife.

DeCore primarily serves repeat customers and manufactures plenty of metal-stamping dies for the automotive industry. It also performs one-off jobs and serves a range of industry sectors. These include the appliance and electrical industries; the company even supplies tooling used to stamp parts for Weber grills.
The couple’s son, Bobby DeCore, works as a design engineer for the company. While once he had set his sights on a career as a professional boxer, today Bobby DeCore approaches his design career with the same logical strategy that served him in the ring.

“Boxing is peaceful, like a game of chess,” he says. “It’s not about fighting, but about making the right moves. The same is true when it comes to designing dies, and requires logic, imagination and a gift for reverse engineering.”

Variety Rules, 3D Tools Shine

While the company primarily serves repeat customers and manufactures plenty of metal-stamping dies for the automotive industry, it also performs one-off jobs and serves a range of industry sectors. These include the appliance and electrical industries; the company even supplies tooling used to stamp parts for Weber grills.

To help its design engineers optimize efficiency, quality and productivity, in 2013 DeCore made the move to 3D designing when it acquired VISI CAD/ CAM software from Vero Software.

“We wanted to get into the 3D world and, being a job shop, we knew we needed to be efficient in 3D software,” Bobby says. “I started using VISI without any design experience, and found it very easy to learn and manipulate using solids. It’s easy for me to take a part, make a strip and design a tool around it.”

Die designer Bobby DeCore approaches his design career with the same logical strategy that served him in the ring. “Boxing is peaceful, like a game of chess,” he says. “It’s not about fighting, but about making the right moves. The same is true when it comes to designing dies, requiring logic, imagination and a gift for reverse engineering.”
VISI’s master distributor in the United States and Canada is Tooling Software Technology (TST), LLC, Village of Clarkston, MI, provided educational services to DeCore, and continues to support Bobby’s efforts to optimize his use of the software.

“After one week of school at TST,” he says, “I was able to design a full die.”

Freedom from Constraints

While each job varies, Bobby typically begins a job in VISI by importing a solid model of the final part to be produced. It’s his job, with help from VISI, to deconstruct the part and create a working model of the strip that will in turn create the final product.

“I have never had any problems importing into VISI,” he says “Nothing gets deformed or has multiple surfaces—there’s no loss of integrity. If it’s not a complete solid- —if there’s missing information—the software corrects the bad geometry.”

Because the software is equipped with an extensive range of translators, designers can work with data from virtually any CAD source. It rejects corrupted geometry during the process of importing CAD data, which means that Bobby can begin each job with the best possible information.

“With other software I’ve looked at,” he says, “it doesn’t appear as though you have as much freedom. There are no constraints on any solids in VISI—every solid can be manipulated so I can alter the imported geometry.”

With the data imported, he determines where the entry point will be made on the die. “Once I get all of the stations unfolded,” he explains, “I can bring it into the software’s strip study and build the components around the strip.”

VISI enables Bobby to easily generate 3D strip layouts, on which he can use the software’s automatic blank alignment, rotation and optimization functions to create the most efficient strip possible. The software also includes an automatic 2D-strip-plan option, which assists in punch design and includes fold lines.
VISI then formulates the part-unfolding process, allowing Bobby to plan each forming stage, by dynamically adjusting bend angles. The solution also allows him to incorporate parametric features—ribs and bosses for example—that can be used or deactivated throughout the forming process. With flexible editing, stations can easily be added or removed.

“I start with the last station and work backward, deconstructing the part and breaking it down,” Bobby says. “The strip basically is the plan of how we’re going to make the tool from a block of steel.”

Generating the 3D Strip Layout

VISI enables Bobby to easily generate 3D strip layouts, on which he can use the software’s automatic blank alignment, rotation and optimization functions to create the most efficient strip possible. The software also includes an automatic 2D-strip-plan option, which assists in punch design and includes fold lines.

“A lot of the functions are created directly for the die world,” he says. “And many are automated, so I rarely need to use a calculator.”

Other features enjoyed by Bobby include the automatic and semiautomatic functions supporting the creation of shearing punches. Once those punches are created, he can move them quickly and efficiently to different locations on the strip with simple drag-and-drop placement, at the click of the mouse. The flexibility of the process has made designing what once were considered challenging progressive dies a simpler process.

“If one option doesn’t work, there’s always another option,” Bobby says. “It isn’t the software that makes me ask, ‘Does it do this?’ It’s more, ‘How do I want to do this?’ The interface is completely customizable, and most functions have multiple options for getting me where I need to go.”

He also credits the collision-detection capabilities of the software for helping him create error-free press-ready designs. While DeCore tests its dies inhouse, all production of final parts takes place after the finished product has been delivered to the customer.

“Being able to see the 3D model and check interferences helps save time in the press,” Bobby says.

The 3D-2D Shuffle

Bobby also explains the value of being able to easily switch from 3D to 2D programming, without sacrificing data integrity. “This is important,” he says, “because I can’t print a 3D solid to show to customers, but I can print the 2D model.” MF

Article provided by Vero Software; 205/556-9199; www.verosoftware.com.

 

See also: Vero Software

Related Enterprise Zones: Tool & Die


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