This article was first published in the Summer 2015 issue of OnWindows
Fractions of a second, microns of tolerance; in the exacting world of Formula 1 racing, triumph and failure are not far apart. With a background in that demanding environment, the two metalwork engineers who founded Freeform Technology in 2008 know the significance of meeting a specification exactly and delivering on time.
Spotting a market opportunity to apply precision machining methods in the composites field, Simon Burchett and Fred Hutton founded the company in 2008. From the beginning, they knew that they wanted to use NX software from PLM specialist Siemens PLM Software. “We were familiar with NX, we knew it could do the job, and it was one thing we could rely on in the scary days of being a start-up,” comments Burchett.
Freeform Technology quickly established a reputation for providing Formula 1 race car standards to the composite tooling industry. “We deliver an extremely accurate product very quickly,” says Burchett. “Our ongoing business challenge is to maintain that quality and speed as we grow across different industries.”
The company has four floating licenses of NX CAM, enabling the software to be used by various members of the team. Well-established as a partner of Siemens PLM Software in the United Kingdom, TEAM Engineering helped Freeform Technology to set up the system and provides ongoing technical support. “The software is excellent, and the guys at TEAM Engineering are very knowledgeable,” says Hutton.
Because Burchett and Hutton began their business by doing everything themselves, they are especially cognisant of the need to maintain the highest quality throughout the tooling process. Here, Burchett particularly values the flexibility of NX. “With some software applications, you simply cannot do what you want to do. I think that’s because purpose-built CAM packages are designed to be used very quickly by anyone. They have an easy-to-use interface and, at the click of a button, the machine is off. The trouble with this is that the software drives the toolpaths; the machinist has little control. With NX, we have a lot more input into how each toolpath is created.”
What’s more, the flexibility provided by NX supports the team when they tackle unusual or unconventional tooling challenges, like a recent project to create moulds and tooling for silicon body parts for use in medical training. Burchett explains: “That particular client was extremely impressed by the quality of our work, and that’s partly because NX is very versatile to use. The postprocessors can be used to drive any machine to any specification. Even though I have investigated other software, I often found it limiting. I have yet to find a problem I have not solved with NX CAM.”
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