SheetMetal Solutions

The Sheet Metal Tree of Knowledge

Software provides production-ready STEP and GEO data, including bend markings. Futuristic art project realized with the help of SPI SheetMetalWorks.

Kompetenzcenter Abkanttechnik

When Christoph Langen founded the Kompetenzcenter-Abkanttechnik AG in Dormagen, central Germany in 2006, he defined “innovative manufacturing processes combined with state-of-the-art machine technology” as prerequisites for quality and customer satisfaction.

The following year he started manufacturing in the neighbouring Cologne-Longerich with four employees and a production area of around 600 m². Already in 2008 two production halls, more machines and employees were added, and in 2010 another hall of 1,000 m².

In 2011, the company set up its own laser cutting facility. It was a big step toward what is today one of the most modern sheet metalworking facilities in the North Rhine-Westphalia region.

Art of Construction: Steel Tree and Solidworks Assembly (Assembly)

In order to further improve the company’s processes, in 2014 the Executive Board decided to supplement the existing 2D CAD software with a 3D solution and – in the spirit of Industry 4.0 – to create manufacturing environments that are based “on a secure exchange of information and the networking of machines and processes”.

“Our customers send us about 50% of the requested products in the form of files (.STP, .DXF, .DWG)”, explains Christoph Langen. “In the past, such data had to be manually reworked to convert them into a technical preparation that meets our operational specifications. So we looked for a more time-saving solution and came across SPI from Ahrensburg.”

The presentation of the software took place in June 2016. Key reasons in the decision to work with SPI included its integration with Solidworks, the ability to directly create GEO files for the laser cutting centre, as well as the ability to store custom tool settings in the database. An additional factor was the option to order custom software solutions. In November 2016, the company gave SPI a contract for the installation of a network solution, initially with three licenses.

“The positive impression was reinforced by the ability to unfold all orders. From creating an individual shortening measurement table to the technical support and adjustment of the preset relief cuts. Requirements were implemented, adapted, and integrated within a very short time,” enthusiastically reports Production Manager Tilmes. “None of the competitors could even come close to fulfilling our requirements so completely.”

We have achieved considerable time-savings, especially when working with more complex edge profiles with interlocking flanges or components with radii that need to be bent in segments. SPI software independently creates the flat pattern of the components, including the GEO data, on the basis of the material and tool databases.

Oliver Neumann

Head of Work Preparation, Kompetenzcenter-Abkanttechnik

For the workshop drawing, the software displays all radii of the segmented bends as well as all angles of the bent edges. The biggest advantage is the ability to draw models with sharp edges. The SPI software creates a flat pattern with the correct bend radii and all corner and flange reliefs, as well as provides a ready-to-manufacture STEP model that perfectly corresponds to the real-life component. This is particularly beneficial for larger assemblies as it helps to detect and correct collision hazards.

A Tree from Stainless Steel Tests the Limits of the Software

“For our customers Orproject and Winterberg Metall, we realized an award-winning art project in the form of a tree made of stainless steel elements,” says Oliver Neumann. “The client sent us an assembly in STEP-format. With the help of the SPI software, the individual parts could be loaded quickly and provided with all the information needed for manufacturing.

We realized that thanks to the SPI functions, it took just a few steps to create workshop drawings with complete bending tables. In the same process step, GEO-files including bending marks were created for our laser cutting centre.

These were necessary because due to the many bends in the components, there were no parallel surfaces to work with.” The professionals from Cologne-Longerich were also able to increase production capacity. With component drawing now available, including all information on adjustment measures and angles, production could be made significantly more economical and efficient: “In the past, we had to produce adjustment samples: often several of them until all the parameters fit. Today we need just one sample and then we can manufacture the series.”

Currently, three out of five workplaces are equipped with SPI software. Christoph Langen does not hesitate: “We will equip all workplaces in the future. The processes of work preparation have been considerably simplified. By integrating the software, we have achieved time savings of about 20% in the preparation of manufacturing documents and in the nesting of components in laser programming. In addition to saving time during design, we particularly benefit from the simultaneous creation of the GEO-files for our laser cutting system, so that this work step is no longer necessary in laser programming.

The collaboration with SPI has been very positive and effective since day one. SPI is a partner which adapts to the needs of its customers and strives to implement them promptly. This characteristic makes it easy for us to recommend SPI.”

The Conclusion

What was the challenge?

In the past, customer data had to be manually reworked to convert them into a technical preparation that meets our operational specifications.

(Christoph Langen)

What have you gained?

We have achieved considerable time-savings, especially when working with more complex edge profiles with interlocking flanges or components with radii that need to be bent in segments.

(Oliver Neumann)

In a nutshell: the main advantage?

The ability to draw models with sharp edges. SPI software creates a flat pattern with the correct bend radii and all corner and flange reliefs,

(Oliver Neumann)

What would you like others to know?

The collaboration with SPI has been very positive and effective since day one. SPI is a partner which adapts to the needs of its customers and strives to implement them promptly.

(Christoph Langen)

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