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K2 Engineering, Inc.         Contact us

Specializing in Engineering & Manufacturing Automation since 1996

Manufacturing Automation

Manufacturing Automation – just what is it anyway?

Perhaps an example would help illustrate the concept.

Suppose that you are a widget manufacturer and have just custom-designed a new widget per your customer´s specifications.  Further suppose that several of the parts which make up this widget have some surface outlines and/or surface features with some non-trivial geometry (unusual curvatures, many holes, unusual bevels, etc.).

Chances are, you already have some sort of CAD/CAM software in-house that allows you to draw, in 2D or 3D, the desired part and convert into the necessary machine (M & G) codes required to punch it, shear it, drill it, burn it, machine it, etch it, turn it, or whatever else until the result looks like your finished part.

Now imagine that you have been given a large order of these widgets, all somewhat similar but no two just alike and all with some fairly challenging geometry.  Sure, you could have your engineer or draftsman sit down and work through these one by one, even copying and pasting where applicable, check each drawing for outline and feature continuity, until you had the part programs written.  Then, you could put your machine in a dry run or trace mode to make sure that you didn´t have any bugs.  After that, finally, you are ready to go.  If this scenario didn´t happen too often, then it´s not much of a problem.

On the other hand, if this did happen rather frequently then it´s a problem.  But there are alternatives.  Imagine a software suite that is quick, simple, intuitive, and produces equivalent (often superior) results in 3 – 5 minutes (including operator input time).  This software suite could remember your previous parts and offer their parameters as default for your new work, is “part intelligent’ – i.e., understands potential interferences, offers preview capability, and is user-friendly with visual and audible cues and feedback to guide the operator to a successful outcome.  Further, this suite could be scriptable and driven from, or integrate with, your existing software, even internal proprietary software.

K2 Engineering develops such software and can quickly customize to your unique requirements at quite reasonable cost with a payback period, given typical circumstances, of well under one year.  The easy affordability stems from the fact that our software takes a completely different tack from the large CAM vendors such as you may be using now.  While their packages are extremely capable and powerful, they are likewise general in nature, complex, and often clumsy.  Out software is small, efficient, focused, and customized to your unique requirements.  It doesn´t replace your current software but complements it.  The contrast is between “one size fits all’ and “one size – your size’.

Our software is most applicable to the situation described above, the production of a parametric part.  A parametric part is one with many variations on a theme such as differing overall length or width, varying radii, varying numbers of surface features or components, or various locations of these features or components.   There are an almost endless number of various combinations and permutations!   Do you really need to create a new drawing for each new variant?

The accompanying screen shots can help to illustrate this concept.  This manufacturer produced a highly engineered, customized product and was constantly producing customized parts meeting the additional constraints imposed by their customers – hundreds of similar (but different!) parts.  Shown are screen shots taken from software customized for this manufacturer.  Included are several input screens and a hardcopy preview of tool head motion with moves, cuts and etches shown in different colors.  Note that the output “M & G Code’ is heavily annotated for operator convenience.  Input to complete CNC code in just a minute or two.  It´s that simple!

K2 Engineering can quickly produce similar results for your application, be it flame, plasma, laser, or water-jet cutting, shearing, sawing, punching, scribing, and many cases of turning and milling.   For developed (press-braked) parts, there are additional provisions for unfolding the outline back to a flat pattern.  In a similar fashion, using AutoCAD, shop drawings for the parametric part can likewise be automated.  

In each case listed above, and in many others as well, the benefits of the solution far outweighed the cost of the change and implementation.  Payback periods of well under 6 months were the norm.  Similar custom systems, software, and/or process recommendations from K2 Engineering might resolve one of your engineering, manufacturing, or operational problems.  Please contact us and we´ll be happy to meet with you to discuss your needs.  We're also accustomed to working with your in-house personnel, or other third parties, on projects of this nature and will be glad to discuss that with you as well.

The initial consultation is completely at no cost to you and you are under no further obligation whatsoever.  If we can help you, you'll know immediately.  Just as importantly, if we are not the right people for the job, you'll be told that immediately as well - and we may be able to put you in touch with the right person in our wide circle of professional contacts who can help you.

Screen shot of CNC Editor program

Screen shot of CNC Editor program

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