Engineering Design and Sheetmetal Programming ?

Just out of curiosity, how many of you SWX designers do your own sheetmetal programming? I work for a large firm with 10 Engineers and 4 of us use SWX
for design. What they invision is having us designers doing our own programming for the Amada for every peice of sheetmetal we create for our different products. At this time, we have one person who does not use SWX and is not a designer. He has been doing all our sheetmetal programming using Fabriwin for many years and is fairly fast at it. But he cannot keep up with the pace of work. At the same time, us as designers can barely keep up with our design duties due to the new product lines and demands for new parts on a daily basis. I personally think they need to hire a hot-shot programmer (younger than the one we have) to take on some of the programming responsibilities for the sheetmetal. Someone with some spunk who would like to work his way up in a good company. The company on the other hand thinks the parts will go thru alot quicker if we also program them. Am I crazy for thinking they are dead wrong.?? I think it will only slow us down on the design end of product and things will be released to production slower rather than faster. My feelings are a person has to excel in a certain area of the chain. What I mean is I am fairly proficient with SWX and when not burdened with other things, can get thru a design rather quickly. Same thing with the programmer. He does not have to worry about designing the parts and therefore, he can excel in his progamming chores. What is everybodies take on this?? Just as a side note, I have programmed up to 5 -axis machining centers and lathes with live tooling for over 25 years, so I am no slouch with G-code or any program related to creating it.I just think they are in the wrong mode of thinking when heading in this direction. Am I wrong. Dont be shy. Answer honestly because It wouldnt be the first time I have been off base. I have been in maunfacturing for approx. 34 years, so I have been around a few places and seen good ideas go sour a few times. Thanks for the input....Jake Barron
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I would have to agree with you. Think about the details of the post processor, tooling selection, nesting etc. I don't know how much you make one/multiples of a particular part per sheet, but if you nest various parts on a sheet, that certainly swings the pendulum to the programmer side.
OTH, making sure your SW flat pattern is correct is probably the quickest way to help the process. Develop your k-factor, etc. so that you get good results.
WT

sheetmetal
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I do both. But I do most of the programming of our sheetmetal parts, we have a turret and a plasma. First of all won't the cost of 10 fabriwin liscenses alone scare them off. I don't know how complex your parts are but using fabriwin on SW parts is easy and takes only a minute or 2 to program for a linear machine. Though for the turret it is quite a bit more cumbersome and may take 30min or more to do a single part. We also have a seat of InteliNest for the Plasma machine, this is quite the time saver. It also allows us alot of versatility since we are able to fill a days worth of the nesting in 1/2 hour, though our shop leaders do the daily nesting so it isn't an engineering task. If your machine is a plasma or a laser I wouldn't worry about the time it takes to program a part in fabriwin as long as you don't have to nest it too it may take you an extra 10 minutes if that to do your own parts. If you have a turret I would be worried because it could add quite a bit of time to your tasks. From AutoCad it is a different story because you have to clean up each drawing. I have found that for the most part an AutoCAD part if it is drawn to scale and hasn't had any "Cheap" editing done to it, it imports quite well and quickly maybe 3 minutes per part. But if there has been cheap editing it could take a long time because you have to make the geometry correct. Some things are easier to correct in Fabriwin and others are much easier from AutoCAD. There are some quirks to Fabriwin that you will have to work through but once you know what to look out for you can work around it pretty easily. (Watch out for any part that combines "Old" Sheetmetal techniques with "New" Sheetmetal techniques).
Anyway in short if you have a linear cut machine it will be a brease from AutoCad and SolidWorks, but if you have a turret it will suck.
Corey

sheetmetal
keep
keep
programming
like
for
area
thing
and
Dont
off
the
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dedicated person to program. I use SMP from Merry Mech to program an Amada Turret punch. Every part that i design i have to tool up myself. This can take quite a while and in turn it slows down the design work. On the other hand it can be useful to be doing both as you have complete control over the part being designed. But in short have someone else to write the progams would be better
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I do some design from the ground up, but primarily use SWX as a QA/Pre-production tool to prepare documentation including flat patterns. I support two turrets, a laser and 5 press brakes for two shifts. Jobs are coming in from 3 quoters.
As designers, you should be able to provide the programmer all the documentation, including an accurate flat pattern without too much difficulty. From there, he should be able to concentrate on CAM and lay-out. While I use MetaCAM, Fabriwin would be my 2nd choice and is entirely capable. I currently handle all documentation in addition to programming, so I'm wondering what kind of load you are placing on the programmer. 10-20 new parts a day?
In any case, it's more cost effective to add a junior programmer than to teach CAM to engineers. The tenth time tooling gets side loaded and ends up ruining punches and material, they may realize this. It's not rocket science, but in the situation you describe, having engineers program the punch makes as much sense as having you puch the parts as well. In fact, many people believe that it takes an operator to be a decent programmer. Knowing the machine, its quirks and capabilities is half the job.
Good luck
Jake wrote:

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OTOH (and even though I agree), what seems on the surface to be for the good for the company may not be quite as good for the employees . . . and MAY not even be as good for the company as it seems it might be. Engineer who can program CAD can do better sheetmetal design. If the engineers are tasked as planned, the slowdown in new design will be noticed by management, and some type of adjustment will be made, whether for the good or the company or not for the good of the company. Unless it results in a layoff, it may still end up being better for the employees as they end up with enhanced abilities. Perhaps (and I'm only saying this for sake of playing Devil's Advocate) the engineers would do better not to look a gift horse in the mouth.
Mark 'Sporky' Stapleton Watermark Design, LLC www.h2omarkdesign.com
Dave wrote:

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Quite well put, I might say. Back in 1980, our engineering department purchased a laser/turret punch for making prototype parts. I was not in the parts making end at the time, but kept pestering the boss to let me learn it. I figured that a new toy was an opportunity that should not be allowed to pass. So, I read the book on my own time, got some time under my belt, eventually taught the others a thing or three, and ended up running that department.
So, while I still think a dedicated programmer will be more efficient overall, having the designers understand what goes into producing the part they design, most certainly makes for better design. And to personally not seize an opportunity to learn something new on company time would be foolish.
WT

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Im not shure, but what I have seen, is that the Amada add-in for SW, is that it allmost does all unfolding and programming with just a few klik on the mouse.
Ofcorse this has been seen at EuroBlech (Exhibition i Germany), were every thing works first time.
Sorry my english
Jrgen

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We use SW2005 and Sigmanest to laser cut all of our sheetmetal parts here at Lakeside Manufacturing. We have three designers here and all three of us here create our own laser files for Sigmanest, but we have a dedicated guy doing the nesting out at the laser. It seems to work real well for us. It allows us, the designers, to verify our blanks before they get nested. Sigmanest also has a Solidworks module that allows us to import sheetmetal parts right from Solidworks. It also allows you to open a full assembly, it then traverses the assembly looking for any sheetmetal files and lets you set them up one after another, without having to import each file seperately.
Richard

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Jake -
I let the designers design and the programmers program. It makes no sense to have it any other way.
The designer should know enough about the process to be attentive to "downline" problems, but should not have to worry about programming a dwell into a corner, when to toggle the assist gas or tweak the wattage for a given material, activate trap door or whatever.
The programmer should not worry if the flat is correct, all the features are present, etc.
I would suggest that they get a motivated person to play the role of designer programmer and let them take up the "balance" of the work as needed. I worked in a group of designers & programmers and each of us had a specialty with an overlap in another area. Some more that others based on ability. I believe that letting a programmer get into part design is a great thing and vice versa, but it will not make the process more productive to have everyone following the same process "on their own".
Taken to a crazy level, we need to have them purchase and source their own flat material, receive it, design a part, program it, run it, brake form it, paint it, package it, deliver it to the customer and then collect the money and split their portion with the company . . .
Some companies run like this, but generally have 2 to 3 workers. Economies of scale need to stay economical.
Later,
SMA
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Jake -
I let the designers design and the programmers program. It makes no sense to have it any other way.
The designer should know enough about the process to be attentive to "downline" problems, but should not have to worry about programming a dwell into a corner, when to toggle the assist gas or tweak the wattage for a given material, activate trap door or whatever.
The programmer should not worry if the flat is correct, all the features are present, etc.
I would suggest that they get a motivated person to play the role of designer/programmer and let them take up the "balance" of the work as needed. I worked in a group of designers & programmers and each of us had a specialty with an overlap in another area. Some more than others based on ability (I did Tooling desing, prototype support & VMC programming in that order - another guy did Laser Turret Programming, Prototype support & tooling, etc.). I believe that letting a programmer get into part design is a great thing and vice versa, but it will not make the process more producive to have everyone following the same process "on their own".
Taken to a crazy level, we need to have them purchase and source their own flat material, recieve it, design a part, programm it, run it, brake form it, paint it, package it, deliver it to the customer and then collect the money and split their portion with the company . . .
Some companies run like this, but generally have 2 to 3 workers. Economies of scale need to stay economical.
Later,
SMA
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