Takumi takes off with hyperMILL

4 mins read

A name established from the Japanese term for craftsman or artisan, ‘Takumi’ Precision Engineering has been delivering both in abundance to the shores of Ireland for almost 25 years. The Limerick based company has invested heavily in recent years with a factory expansion that has taken floor space to 50,000 ft2 and over €7m Euros invested in new machine tools and CAM software to further extend its market leading position on the Emerald Isle.

Takumi is a prominent figure in the medical device, pharmaceutical, aerospace and precision engineering sectors in Ireland. The company produces orthopaedic implants and instruments, and a range of cardiovascular delivery systems and assembly aids, supporting its customers through complete manufacturing of components or subcontract machining elements of a customer’s production process. Complimentary to that on the Aerospace side of the business is machining of aluminium wing, brackets and fuselage elements, seating components and engine peripherals. Additionally electrical, electronic, mechanical and optical engineering parts are provided for the industrial precision machining sector.

Down the years, Takumi has invested in turning centres from Tornos, Doosan and Miyano with 3 and 5-axis machining centres from Doosan, Spinner, Fanuc and most recently Matsuura adding to the plant list. As the machine capability grew, and CAD developments led to ever more complex components, so the requirement for greater CAM capability became evident. As such, one of the company’s core investments has been hyperMILL CAM software from OPEN MIND Technologies.

Commenting on the changes at Takumi, Chairman Mr Gerry Reynolds says, “a number of years ago, 90% of our work was in the medical industry with the remaining work being across a number of sectors including the aerospace market. We had an opportunity to enter the aerospace market in a more positive way, increasing volumes from 1 to 3-offs to continuous batches of 10-15-off on the Airbus A220 and A320. We had to invest in 5-axis technology to accommodate the ramping-up of complex aerospace work and we have bought 13 5-axis machines in the last number of years to support this. Additionally, we expanded our turning capability by adding MillTurn. These have proved very adaptable and productive and we now have 3 MillTurn machines on the floor”.

The investment has paid dividends with aerospace work increasing from 5% of turnover to almost 60% in less than five years and continuing to grow steadily. However, this is not to the detriment of the medical business, As Gerry continues: “Our business doubled in size over about three years thanks to the increased aerospace work, but the medical sector always remained crucially important to our business. An influx of opportunities in medical device and seen a rebalancing of the sectors with Medical components now back to over 40% of our business. We now have 120 staff and are achieving a monthly turnover in excess of €1m Euros."

The Influence of CAM

“In the earlier days of Takumi, I didn’t understand CAM and would have argued against it. At the time I would have referred to our programming method as ‘finger CAM‘, as we were programming at the machine, however, there was a growing necessity for CAM to run our machines. We eventually progressed to a more comprehensive CAM system and gradually installed eight seats of software. This worked fine for us for a number of years and got us hooked. However, a visit to the AMRC introduced us to Ceratizit’s barrel tools and OPEN MIND’s hyperMILL CAM system – this changed the game for Takumi.”

After investing heavily in CAM software, Gerry Reynolds was apprehensive at the prospect of changing CAM systems. “Over the last 5 to 6 years, we had spent a lot on CAM packages and what we had, worked relatively well; but there were a few issues with processing speed, occasional crashes and some feature limitations. It was the barrel tool machining features within the hyperMILL MAXX High Performance Strategy that appealed to me, but I wanted my team to take the lead, as they would be the ones using the software.”

It’s on its way...

“The team did their due diligence, taking in hyperMILL demos and then asking our existing CAM vendor if the barrel tool feature and the mirroring package were available. Our CAM supplier and other vendors all said ‘it’s on its way’ or ‘it’s in development’ regarding more than just these two features in hyperMILL. That told us all we needed to know about the various vendors in the market, but it told us a lot more about hyperMILL. They are clearly streets ahead of the other CAM developers. We have rapidly moved to hyperMILL. We purchased our first seat 3 years ago and now we have 8 seats of hyperMILL. With the success of hyperMILL we have phased out our previous CAM system,” continues Gerry.

The benefits of hyperMILL

One significant reason why Takumi invested in hyperMILL was the potential for barrel tools, or large radius tools to significantly improve productivity. Commenting on this, Gerry said “the hyperMILL MAXX Machining High Performance Package and the respective barrel tools with their innovative geometry allow us to step-down 5 to 10mm as opposed to 0.4 to 0.8mm when finishing pockets, walls or profiling features. This has instantly reduced finishing cycles by at least 40%, giving us a minimum overall cycle time improvement of 20% on every component.”

Shane McMahon, Engineering manager at Takumi adds: “We saw no other CAM system that was even close in terms of generating code for barrel tools; as one of the first adopters in Ireland, we have had a lot of interest among our customers and peer companies in its capabilities. Further to that, the quality of post processors has been excellent with the majority working perfectly with our equipment with no issues or modifications. Overall support levels have also been excellent and that all helped us get to a high standard of programming very quickly.”

However, the benefit is not just the cycle time improvement as Gerry Reynolds points out: “We have historically had a number of staff undertaking finish polishing of parts to ensure our surface finishes exceed customer expectations. Despite the increased speed and step-over rate with hyperMILL MAXX High Performance Machining, the surface finishes are much better than before. This is because the barrel tool has a higher engagement rate that keeps the tool in constant contact with the workpiece.”

Another feature that persuaded Takumi to invest in OPEN MIND was the mirroring feature. As Gerry continues: “In the aerospace industry, almost everything is manufactured with a left and right hand component. The mirroring feature in hyperMILL is remarkably comprehensive and with just a touch of a button, we are reducing our programming times on most components by 50%. We have 8 programming staff and the mirroring feature in hyperMILL is effectively doubling the productivity of this team.”

Better overall CAM system

Whilst hyperMILL has reduced cycle times on the shop floor by over 20% and reduced programming times by upwards of 50% in the office, the benefits reach much further. “HyperMILL is much faster than previous CAM systems and it handles ‘big data’ much better than we have previously witnessed. This has eliminated unforeseen PC crashes and massively improved the reliability, processing and delivery of our data to the shop-floor. Furthermore, hyperMILL has so many intuitive features and short-cuts that generate savings for the end-user; these ‘obvious’ features don’t appear on other CAM platforms. One feature that simplifies the throughput of programs and parts is hyperCAD. The OPEN MIND CAD system that is integrated into hyperMILL is an excellent platform that has now eliminated our reliance on other seperate CAD packages. We can now expedite jobs through hyperCAD to hyperMILL with seamless ease – yet another feature that is making life easier for our programming team,” concludes Gerry.