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Many of us use Delcam PowerMill CAM software to make molds and dies. However, recently initiated user number 35,000 is different, employing the CAM package to program robots that make components for large, expensive, performance yachts.

PlasticsToday Staff

December 20, 2010

2 Min Read
Composites: Delcam's 35,000th  PowerMill user is very ship-shape

Many of us use Delcam PowerMill CAM software to make molds and dies. However, recently initiated user number 35,000 is different, employing the CAM package to program robots that make components for large, expensive, performance yachts.

Southern Spars, the Auckland, New Zealand-based designer/builder of high-performance yachts, has grown to a 75% market share in Grand Prix race boats and super-yachts since building its first carbon-fiber-reinforced composite spar in 1990. Owners of its boats also own more than 25 world sailing records, a factor in the company's success resulting from its passionate drive for excellence.

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Robots controlled by CAM software are improving the design and construction of the world-class yachts built by New Zealand’s Southern Spars.

Always looking to improve, Stephen Young, the design engineer in change of Southern Spars CAD/CAM operations, learned that it was possible to use robots to machine large components, rather than manual finishing of the composite parts. He spoke with a number of suppliers that said they had systems to program robots. "However," Young says, "most of the people we talked to did not actually have any real-world experience."

When he found software supplier Delcam, it was able to show him existing applications of robot programming, which was a positive, but Young also wanted ease of use because the Auckland design staff would be doing the programming offline. Additionally, because practically every piece is a custom design, programming time had to be kept to a minimum.

Young determined that PowerMill could meet both of those requirements and installed it. The results are major: a savings of 70% to 80% over traditional manual processes, and the savings are still rising as user familiarity with the software increases, further shortening programming times. The next step will see the robot mounted on rails so that Southern Spars' biggest components, such as a 78m-long mast, can be machined in no more than two sections. —PTStaff

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