Alien Machine Worx Launches and Sustains Growth with Support from SOLIDWORKS
Cutting toolpath programming time from four hours to 45 minutes using SOLIDWORKS CAM
Improve machine shop and product development efficiency by integrating design, simulation, and machining solutions.
Add SOLIDWORKS CAM software to its existing SOLIDWORKS CAD and SOLIDWORKS Simulation installation.
- Doubled machine shop size in two years
- Tripled machining throughput
- Cut toolpath programming time from four hours to 45 minutes
- Maximized machining uptime
Tim Fulton’s passion for off-roading started at age 16. It was no surprise then that in 2004, Fulton founded Alien Machine Worx, which develops rugged, functional differential covers for off-road vehicles, including breather manifolds, hubcaps, billet knobs for shifters, sunshields, and more.
Fulton did contract work for a variety of manufacturers for several years. “SOLIDWORKS® design software … is easy to use and can handle just about any CAD or data formats that come through the door. For customers who don’t have data but have sketched their ideas out on paper, it’s easy to use SOLIDWORKS to model the part and produce the data from which it can be machined,” says Fulton.
“I love SOLIDWORKS [CAD], so I knew that SOLIDWORKS CAM would make a dramatic difference when it comes to tool-path programming. Having access to integrated SOLIDWORKS CAM capabilities has really made a difference in helping us launch our product line, fulfill orders quickly and cost-effectively, and improve our competitive position,” Fulton continues.
Tool-Path Programming Time Cut from 4 Hours to 45 Minutes
SOLIDWORKS CAM enabled Alien Machine Worx to improve its competitiveness by accelerating tool-path programming and facilitating design changes. “SOLIDWORKS CAM is literally a night-and-day difference when it comes to programming,” Fulton enthuses. “Without an integrated CAM system, it can take four hours to program a tool path for machining. With SOLIDWORKS CAM, we can program and turn around a quote on a part in 45 minutes.” SOLIDWORKS CAM also enables the business to maximize uptime and turn quotes and parts around a lot quicker than competitors, even on parts the shop has never seen before.
“We also can make design changes without having to re-program,” says Fulton. “When a design change is requested to a part that has already been programmed, we only need to make a change to the [SOLIDWORKS CAD] model—like changing a dimension from 11 to 13 inches. With other systems, that change would require going back to square one to re-program the entire tool path. With integrated SOLIDWORKS CAM … the tool-path programming automatically updates. This gives us a real competitive advantage because most machine shops add programming time to their quotes. We don’t have to charge for programming time at all.”
The CAM capabilities in SOLIDWORKS are not only intuitive but also enable capturing technical knowledge on frequently-run or difficult-to-machine parts
Knowledge Captured in a Tooling Database
The company has also used SOLIDWORKS CAM to capture and embed the firm’s machining knowledge in the database. “The CAM capabilities in SOLIDWORKS are not only intuitive but also enable capturing technical knowledge on frequently-run or difficult-to-machine parts,” Fulton notes.
This makes it much easier for Fulton’s employees, who are less experienced on the SOLIDWORKS CAM software, to leverage Fulton’s knowledge because it is all within SOLIDWORKS CAM’s technology database. Employees only need to select what Fulton has done on similar parts or a specific part and apply it to the model they are working on. This saves time while maintaining quality. Fulton concludes, “Our products are selling, our contract machining business is growing, and SOLIDWORKS CAM is helping us both manage and sustain growth.”