Customer Success Stories
Vector Mold Design 2016
Rob Rammeloo has come a long way since founding his mold-design business as a lone entrepreneur from a back room in his home.
As he embarked upon the unpredictable adventure of business ownership, the founder of Windsor, Ontario-based Vector Mold Design had just one overriding mission: “My business plan when I started was, ‘Don’t ask for your old job back,'” Rammeloo says wryly from the stylish conference room of his spacious offices.
Growing up on a farm, Rammeloo took quickly to practical fix-it tasks that would serve him well as a design engineer. “I learned to weld and fix machinery, and it came easily to me,” he says.
He eventually parlayed a mind for mechanics into a knack manufacturing, and, beginning at the age of 16, Rammeloo landed various positions with automotive mold manufacturing and design houses. Over time, he became more and more involved with the design end of the mold industry.
“I worked at a bunch of different places and knew a bunch of different people,” says Rammeloo, who worked his way through the ranks, earning a reputation for top-notch work.
With a growing family to support, he ventured into freelance territory simply to pick up some extra money. “A little bit of work turned into a little more, and then the phone was continuously ringing.”
When one of the biggest automotive tool shops in the city was in search of a company to perform its outsourcing work, Vector fit the bill. Landing the major contract got the company off the ground, and the rest, as they say, is history.
“I literally bought 10 desks and 10 computers,” Rammeloo says. “We staffed up quickly, and we had all these deadlines that we had to hit.”
Today, Rammeloo employs a growing staff of 14, and Vector Mold Design is just what Rammeloo was aiming for — a design house. No manufacturing takes place between its fashionable walls, where the polished ambience is all part of letting clientele know they’re in good hands. “We have over 100 customers, and they range from OEMs to mom-and-pop shops.”
To design its molds, Vector Mold Design uses the VISI CAD/CAM solution by Vero Software. VISI is acknowledged as one of the world’s leading CAD/CAM solutions for the mold and die industries, offering fully integrated surface and solid modeling, 3D tool design, plastic flow analysis, and comprehensive multi-axis milling strategies.
“Our software has to work for our customers and our staff,” Rammeloo says. “Everyone has their standards. It has to be easy to learn and easy to use.” Rammeloo notes that it typically takes his staff a few days to a week to learn how to be productive with VISI. “The whole software is geared toward mold and die making,” he says. VISI Mould offers tools for complete mold-tool design based on industry-specific automated functions that guide the designer through the process of mold development. The solution offers dynamic operation previews that provide designers with real-time views of how changes to components will affect the design of the tool.
Among the automated features available in VISI Mould is the incorporation of intelligent standard components from a wide range of suppliers. With details such as screw length available within the software, the lengths of various components will automatically adjust according to differing plate thicknesses and additional rule-based parameters. When it comes to ease of use, Rammeloo notes that VISI is easier to work with than many other types of design software because of the speed of importing and loading files.
“VISI’s file sizes are way smaller than anyone else’s,” Rammeloo says. “We don’t have to work on something else while we’re waiting for files to load.”
It isn’t uncommon for Rammeloo and his team to use scanned data from a previously molded part to recreate or improve upon the design of a mold or component. Scanned data in STL file format can be easily imported into the software. VISI’s ability to work with a wide range of CAD interfaces also makes it easy to maintain the integrity of imported data for almost any supplier. As VISI rejects the use of corrupt data during the import process, designers can be certain that they are beginning a project with the best possible information.
With the analysis tools available in VISI, designers are able to conduct model comparisons by loading two models and checking for design changes between the two. The software highlights deviations between the models, providing a quick visual markup of the differences. Additional analysis tools deliver a range of inspection and comparison options that best fit the designer’s needs and preferred working style.
VISI also helps Vector with the simulation of its injection molds, which assists the designers in ensuring cost-effective and reliable mold designs.
For Rammeloo and his design team, the efficient and easy-to-use tools within VISI make all the difference.”Being able to just draw a cube, we can do it in three mouse clicks in VISI. It’s surprising how few solutions allow you to do that,” he says.
The ongoing support that Vector has received from VISI has also helped the company grow from a one-man operation to a rapidly growing team of mold-design experts.
“Obviously, VISI’s a big part of what we do. I think it’s one of the reasons we’re as successful as we are,” says Rammeloo, adding that Michigan-based Tooling Software Technology (TST), VISI’s master distributor in the United States and Canada, has also been a factor in Vector’s success.
“TST is great,” Rammeloo says, noting that James Kesteloot, owner of TST, has been especially helpful. “Jim’s great. I’ve just bounced ideas off of him; it’s good to have people you can bounce ideas off of.” Rammeloo also credits the team at Vector for bringing his vision to life.
“They’re all smart,” he says of his staff. “I own the place — it’s my dream, my vision — but they’re making it happen, not me. As long as you do a good job, you’ll always have work.”
Source: Vero Software
Published January 2016
Byrne Tool + Die 2014
Tailored Tool Paths Translate into Savings The implementation of CAD/CAM with tool paths tailored to high-speed machining and hard-metal cutting, helped this precision moldmaker dramatically increase its toolpath efficiency.
Rockford, Michigan’s Byrne Tool + Design (BTD) has built its mold manufacturing business by focusing on precision, value and partnerships. It credits its innovative manufacturing approach, fast turnaround time and longstanding reputation for quality to the purchase and implementation of Visi manufacturing software for the tool and mold industry. The speed and convenience of Visi combined with BTD’s more than 20 plastic injection molding machines allow the company to quote production molds to fit a variety of manufacturing needs.
For 40 years, BTD has been manufacturing plastic injection molds and components for customers in the medical, office furniture, nautical and automotive industries who specialize in manufacturing extremely precise parts. BTD provides service and support for the entire lifecycle of each mold it manufactures, with the intention of yielding a rapid, cost-effective response when a customer’s operation goes down. This approach has become the cornerstone of the company’s growing customer base, and it says employing the right software technology has been key.
Finding the Right Fit Andrew Baker, BTD’s operations manager, says the company determined 10 years ago that switching from a surface-based to a solids-based CAD system would be the most efficient method for staying ahead of the manufacturing curve. BTD had been experiencing difficulties with file translation issues, and this was holding up a majority of its work. The production process was continually being hampered by bad tool paths.
This and other difficulties pushed the company to search for a complete software solution to fit all of its needs. BTD wanted a single solution that offered both CAD and CAM functionalities, and it eventually decided on Vero Software’s Visi solution, available through master distributor TST Tooling Software Technology of Clarkston, Michigan. BTD’s selection of Visi was based on several key factors, including tool paths inside the software that are tailored to high-speed machining and hard-metal cutting.
Visi uses smooth corners, stopovers and arc fitting to minimize sudden direction changes and therefore ease high-speed machine tool programming. This also eliminates tool retraction, helps maintain a constant tool load and optimizes NC code.
By implementing Visi, BTD says it was able to not only speed the design time and increase its accuracy, but also create a paperless environment on the shop floor. “It was a seamless transition,”
Baker says. “TST assisted with the software installation, during which our entire manufacturing process went uninterrupted.” And perhaps more importantly, BTD was able to design a mold in Visi exactly as it would appear when the mold shipped. Potentially costly mistakes were caught and corrected before production without causing a hit to the company’s bottom line.
In addition, training shop employees on the software was simple, Baker says. With the new software, BTD went from experiencing toolpath issues on 80 percent of its jobs to having such problems on only 20 percent of the work. Adding On After experiencing such success with Visi, BTD decided to also add Visi 3D, which offers benefits including a 3D stepover function that enables programmers to maximize surface finish with the help of toolpath morphing across the component’s surface, regardless of the component’s size or shape.
One tool path finishes the entire job while keeping the tool on the surface of the component, minimizing retraction movements and eliminating duplicate cutter paths. In addition, the software allows the company to share files with its customers, improving communication.
With an extensive range of CAD interfaces and translators, Visi works directly with most CAD software and ensures that users can work with data from almost any supplier. “Visi has really helped with translating customer CAD files. Whether they are wireframe, solid-surface, mesh data or a combination, we are able to work with any CAD data to quickly re-model parts for machining,” Baker says. BTD also has added a Visi viewer to each of its machine stations, allowing the operator to maximize the software’s capabilities, which include changing solid, wireframe and face colors; importing multiple file types; and creating bounding boxes while adding dimensions to plot-view drawings.
“Sharing native files with our customers and collaborative tooling partners has been seamless,” Baker says. “Using the same software allows us to quickly and effectively communicate challenges and changes to the customer without ever leaving the shop.
Our move to Visi has convinced many of our customers to purchase the software.” The software switch also has contributed to BTD’s 15-percent annual growth rate, which has positioned the company to remodel its collaborative Design Center offices to create a cleaner and more streamlined work environment. This includes adding 6,400 square feet of manufacturing space to meet the demands of increasing production.
This growth also has prompted the hire of new designers, moldmakers and operators, as well as investment in new machine technology.
BTD recently purchased a Makino horizontal milling machine along with a new fixture designer to focus on producing fixtures for Byrne Electrical—BTD’s sister company that specializes in power and data technologies—which supports BTD’s growing manufacturing department. Sustaining Growth Levels According to Baker, all of these im-provements, along with TST’s support, provided BTD with the tools necessary for continued growth. “If a company has a great product and terrible service, the product is worthless,” he concludes. “Because of Visi software and TST’s technical support, we have been able to sustain a level of growth that would not have been possible otherwise.”
To contact BYRNE TOOL + Die please visit their website:
www.byrne-tool.com or contact them directly at 616.866.4479
This article appeared in: Mold Making Technology, December 2014
New Technology Results in Customer Benefits
TapeMaster Tool 2014
Since its inception in 1976, TapeMaster Tool, Troy, MI, has manufactured components for the aerospace, automotive, heavy equipment, and tooling industries. Having stayed current with the latest tooling and equipment, the company needed to continue evolving by keeping up with the latest software technology.
CNC machining of complex prototypes is one of the company’s main strengths. However, with 11 CNC lathes, four twin-spindle vertical lathes, six vertical CNC mills, and a horizontal CNC mill with a pallet changer, the company required a CAD/CAM solution for manufacturing difficult-to-machine prototypes within a variety of industries.
After working with a software company that provided limited support and very few updates, TapeMaster began a search to find a software company that worked well with its customers while providing them with continuous updates. Eventually they installed VISI, from Vero Software.
Prior to making their selection, TST Tooling Software Technology, LLC provided TapeMaster, with an in depth demonstration of VISI. In addition to its ease-of-use, the demo also pointed out how VISI can reduce programming and manufacturing time, saving TapeMaster more than 90% on programming for one specific project. The initial programming time for this project took more than three hours and was reduced to a mere 10 minutes per part number.
During the selection process, TapeMaster’s Vice President / Engineering Manager, Daniel Galli, considered using several other software packages – one brand in particular was considered due to the fact that several employees already had experience with it. However, they found that re-training their employees with VISI would be a smooth transition, while providing the company with faster processing speeds and the ability to perform tasks that they were not able to do with the previous software.
Jim Kesteloot, TST, and his staff suggested VISI Software because of its many innovative developments, which include the ability to distribute toolpath computations onto different machines connected through a private network, cutterpath processing speed, compass technology for automatic feature machining, true hi-speed machining routines and the most important feature; the ability to work with anyone’s data no matter its origin. All of these tools give VISI a unique advantage, producing massive time and cost savings for the end user, with reductions of more than 200%.
Since the implementation of VISI, Galli and his staff have received an improvement in processing speed, enjoying the ability to process a job from start to finish using one software package, and the ability to perform tasks that they were not able to perform with their previous software, making Tapemaster more efficient while giving them the technology to secure new business.
“Whether it is a 2D or 3D project, VISI gives us the confidence to process our work flow accurately and in a timely manner.” Galli continues, “When we receive a new job, we break it down by operation. We use VISI to create process drawings and to program machining operations on the Mill. We also use VISI during the quoting process. It is an excellent tool to determine stock size, tooling required, and order of operations. It is especially helpful when a model is provided by the customer and you need an accurate estimation of machining operations. All of these advantages have helped us become more efficient, saving us time and money”
According to Galli, “Purchasing VISI has provided TapeMaster with the skills to secure new business they could not have secured prior to VISI. However, more importantly, it has allowed us to maintain and build upon our relationships with current customers. We have customers that may only send us work on an infrequent basis, but they send it to us because they know our capabilities and VISI is a big part of that.”
To contact TapeMaster Tool please visit their website:
www.tapemastercnc.com or contact them directly at 248-616-8880
This article appeared in: Manufacturing News, March 2014
Pioneer Die Sets, Division of Pioneer Steel Corporation:
Customer Success Story 2012
Pioneer Steel Corporation was founded 30 years ago to fill a need for fast service on a continuous basis without the sacrifice of superior quality. They started as a Steel service center, rapidly growing into grinding, machining and assembly of die sets. Over the years, the company has grown and now has three locations in North America: Detroit Michigan, Grand Rapids, Michigan and Nashville, Tennessee. They welcomed the challenge of expansion as the industry was growing and with it was Pioneer’s reputation for producing quality products. They exceeded the manufacturing industries expectations both for service and quality.
One of the most important steps to ensure a successful future in the die set industry was to rethink the way they produced their components: the more accurate the design, the less time spent on the shop floor fixing costly mistakes. One of the key problems Pioneer continued to run into was quoting for solids. It was taking the company around 4 hours to quote a single large die. There was a solution to this problem and it came in the form of VISI Machining Solutions. VISI allowed Pioneer’s customers to send native files eliminating the need for paper and prep work. Initially VISI cut Pioneer’s quoting time from 4 hours to 1 hour. Most recently the majority of their quotes are done in minutes.
Shops that have VISI feature based machining have on average increased production up to 60% faster. The results for Pioneer were even more astounding. By cutting to the feature of the 3D solid, they achieved greater accuracy. With a solid model coming from engineering there was a seamless handover allowing the job to get done in minutes instead of hours. The installation of VISI’s complete solution has brought a common thread though quoting, engineering and machining.
In the past Pioneer needed to use three different types of software to achieve what VISI has provided in its’ “all in one solution”. They found that using VISI Machining Solutions was the way to go. According to Greg at Pioneer “Having one type of software helps cut down on errors and gives us more of a streamlined process.”
The all in one solution makes training other engineers on the software a seamless process. Teaming up with Michigan based software company, TST Tooling Software Technology made it possible for Pioneer to effectively train and install VISI while maintaining shop productivity. TST’s emphasis on support made the transition of implementing the new software that much easier. With TST’s strong support structure, Pioneer received same day response if they ran into a technical issue and needed troubleshooting. “Being able to make a phone call to support when we have questions keeps our downtime to a minimum.”
When asked why they chose to implement VISI Machining Solutions, the answer is the software has made it easier to interpret and machine to the files they receive from their customers. What they also found was that TST had solutions for each key area of their business. From quoting, to engineering, to the shop floor, VISI has raised their quoting volume, improved consistency, all the while driving productivity to a new high.
This means that customers of Pioneer are receiving higher quality products built to their expectations.
To contact Pioneer Die Sets please visit their website:
www.pioneersteel.us or contact them directly at 616-878-5800.
To contact TST for a personalized demo of VISI software please visit their website at:
www.tst-software.com or contact them directly by calling: 248-922-9293