Manufacturing parts for Spirit, Opportunity, Curiousity and the Space station. Learn more about Mooney Industries.
Product Used: CAMplete TruePath
Machine Builders: GF Machining Solutions
CAM System: GibbsCAM
Mooney Industries, a second-generation machine shop founded in 1972, today works primarily with spaceflight, taking on some of the toughest projects in an already inherently difficult industry. Originally working with navy radar equipment, Mooney Industries has evolved over the past 45 years, today manufacturing parts for Spirit and Opportunity, Curiosity, and the Space Station.
The nature of these parts means that many people would consider what Mooney is doing to be prototype work, with a 10-piece order considered a large run for them. With small production runs and high material costs, the importance of getting the job done properly the first time is not lost on company President Brian Mooney.
Along with his two brothers and two sisters, Brian essentially grew up on the shop floor. Since the age of 11, his father had him running a machine. His father would show Brian and his siblings how to set the job up, and from there on they learned by doing. If a drill got dull they knew where to sharpen it and where to test it, and if that didn’t work, they would go back and try it again.
Because of his early introduction to manufacturing, Brian has seen first-hand the changes that have occurred over time, embracing advancements as they come. It is because of this that many would not be surprised to learn that Brian was one of GibbsCAM’s first customers, working with the CAM system since 1982.
With a long track record of successfully completed jobs, Mooney industries were approached to quote a new project for NASA. Unlike others in the industry, Brian wasn’t scared off by the specs of the job, quoting the project when no one else would. The part itself began as a 650-pound billet, required complex cuts, ending at under 40 pounds after 4.5 million lines of code.
To complete this project, Mooney Industries knew they would need a machine that was up to the task. They researched a number of machine suppliers and their capabilities. Due to the cost of these 5-axis machines, not having verification software was a deal breaker for Brian in his decision process. With each of these machine suppliers, Brian received a different response. Some offered verification software that was shop floor ready from day one, others did not have an option, and told him to purchase it on his own from a 3rd party vendor.
These responses were what eventually drove Mooney Industries to GF Machining Solutions. Instead of just offering a piece of hardware, GF provides their customers with a complete solution. By working directly with the engineering department of GF Machining Solutions, CAMplete supports all the options and configurations available to a customer for purchase.
The development process is the same as other software solutions on the market, but with CAMplete the work is done ahead of time, so that by the time the solution is delivered to the end user, they are ready to hit the ground running. Without a ready to go solution, a lot of work and downtime must occur in the background. Due to GF Machining Solutions’ pre-existing relationship with CAMplete, post-processing, simulation and verification are all ready to go from day one.
CAMplete TruePath proved to be an invaluable asset in the completion of this project. The Mooney part required a large number of Z-axis movements that the machine itself did not have enough travel to handle. Because of this, the CAM System was consistently outputting clearance planes that were not achievable within the work envelope of the machine.
With TruePath, Brian was able to correct the clearance planes before repositioning the X and Y axes for the next operation, moving the tool to a safe location before spinning the part. This allowed him to use every inch of his machine’s envelope.
With TruePath, the need to go back to the CAM System to fix a small problem was eliminated. The ability to watch the simulation and then edit the G-code allowed Mooney Industries to see where a crash was going to occur and fix it before a costly collision occurred.
This project is just one example of the impact TruePath has had at Mooney Industries. For Brian, the biggest benefit is that CAMplete TruePath allows him to accept and complete much larger parts than they were previously able to. Later adding, “I don’t have to buy a bigger machine to run a part that most people would think was impossible on this size machine. We are completing projects that even the people at the machine suppliers believed would not fit in the machines.”
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