Overcoming Injection Mold Machining Challenges with ICAM’s Post & Simulation

Over the coming months we’ll be looking at how our range of CNC manufacturing software helps our users get more out of their CNC machines. To do so, we’ll be visiting clients in a variety of industries, beginning this week with the mold makers at Groupe GLP Hi-Tech. We’ll be speaking with Robert Leblanc, Chief Technical Officer at GLP Hi-Tech, about their manufacturing process, the challenges of adopting new technologies and the software choices they’ve had to make.

Continued Growth and Improvement

Founded in 1976, Groupe GLP Hi-Tech took its first steps into injection molding making shoe heels. Since then, they’ve moved to offer a complete A-to-Z plastic component manufacturing, from planning and design to fully-assembled plastic parts and texturing. Throughout that time they’ve continued to improve their manufacturing process, by acquiring new equipment, software, and manufacturing methods. “We’ve recently acquired a number of 5-axis machines as well as a laser machine for texturing. Beyond that there is of course the injection molding department, where we make acquisitions every year.” says Leblanc before explaining the company’s philosophy to replace their CNC machines every 10 years. “The major goal is to use these new tools to work smarter and faster, it’s not necessarily about things like precision and wear, because when the machines are sold after use, buyers are very happy with the precision our used machines offer.” But the added efficiency and capability comes at a cost. “With this however, comes a series of new challenges, new methodologies for working with the machines and their controls.” adds Leblanc, “Naturally, when integrating CNC machines, we were faced with major hurdles and needed to sort through the available software providers to see who could best support our needs.”

Making it All Work

“Some of the bigger challenges involved NC programming, CAD/CAM and mastering High-Speed Machining techniques. As far as CAD/CAM systems are concerned, we began by working with Surfcam, as it initially addressed all of our needs. After a while however, clients became more demanding with regards to CAD/CAM system performance, which is when we turned to CATIA, followed by ICAM’s post-processors. After running the post, we use their machine simulation solution to validate tool-paths, mostly for the five-axis machines.” says Leblanc, before explaining the need for accurate machine simulation: “You can’t allow yourself to run these NC programs on expensive five-axis machines eyes-closed. So with a simulation solution like ICAM’s you can simulate the tool-paths and verify them before sending the machines into production.”

Choosing the Right Software Provider

New technology means new choices and choosing the best software for the job is not only about the solution itself, but also the support around it, as Leblanc explains: “What brought us to work with ICAM is first and foremost the quality of the product itself. But the ease of communication when it comes to getting answers to our support questions is what really set them apart. Over the years, difficulties in NC programming, post-processing and simulation have never grown too big, because with the support and easy communication I mentioned, its simple to get through them.”