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CAD and P-M - a good marriage.

If your company makes powder metal (P/M) parts, or tooling for P/M compaction equipment, you'll be interested in the testimony sent to us recently by IPM Corp, Columbus, OH. A member company of Allegheny International, Pittsburgh, PA, IPM Corp specializes in the production of P/M parts of a broad range of industries.

About a year ago, IPM bought and installed a multiterminal computer-aided design (CAD) system. Though not a large company, IPM felt that the investment would yield important benefits within the organization, and would also advance IPM's competitive position in the P/M marketplace.

The main applications of the CAD systems are:

1) Design of briquetting and coining tools for single- and multi-level P/M parts produced at two separate plants. IPM's engineers design complete, closed-die systems in which the dies, core rods, and punches interact with each other during press operation.

2) Preparation of alternative designs of the P/M parts themselves. IPM presents these designs to its customers as an aid in finding ways to reduce the manufacturing costs of parts.

3) Assistance in preparation of manufacturing process sheets. An important component in these sheets is a part drawing of the P/M part, with a list of the dimensions that are critical in the manufacturing process. Using data filed in memory, the CAD system automatically generates an individual drawing for each sheet.

IPM has found that the benefits afforded by the CAD system have far exceeded expectations. Gains experienced thus far include:

* In the designs for both tooling components and P/M parts, the areas and volumes that formerly were prone to inaccuracies are now highly accurate.

* Part design that used to take 4 to 8 hr can now be completed in 5 to 20 min.

* Design of individual tools has been reduced from 6 days to 3 days. Where families of tooling parts are being prepared, IPM's engineers can design the entire family in 3 days versus the former 13 days required.

* On the average, initial samples of parts can be produced in 1.25 to 1.5 attempts. Before CAD, it took an average of 2.5 attempts to produce good parts.

"The CAD system is also an excellent sales tool," points out Jerry Fuller, general manager of IPM. "Customers want fast and accurate answers to questions on quotations. Having a CAD system available is a plus when a potential customer tours a manufacturer's plant. He will check it off as an advantage."

Fuller adds that the CAD system is a valuable tool during quotation on new parts. "The parts manufacturer must be able to calculate the weight of a part with a high degree of accuracy," he states. "In most instances, up to 40 percent of the total cost of a part is in material, so even a slight miscalculation could misrepresent the manufacturing cost.

"The last thing a customer wants to hear is that we misquoted a part and must request a price adjustment."

Within the next 18 to 24 months, IPM expects to integrate the CAD system with toolmaking equipment in both company plants. Fuller sees this as a major step toward ensuring repeatability in tooling manufacture, and toward achieving quality and cost leadership in the P/M industry.

After reviewing IPM's testimony, we're led to wonder: Can the P/M parts manufacturer--even though a small company--afford to operate without CAD?
COPYRIGHT 1984 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Quinlan, Joseph C.
Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:May 1, 1984
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