The machine was a Mazak (01905 755755) VTC 800 5-axis machining centre and the software was PowerMILL from Delcam (0121 766 5544). A toolmaker for aerospace and the automotive industry, Hockley Pattern specialises in turnkey tooling packages for the production of composite components, together with all the associated jigs and fixtures for trimming, drilling, checking, assembling and bonding those parts.

The brothers decided to invest in a Mazak to expand the company’s existing machining capacity, in particular to accommodate a large tooling order from Airbus. However, Neil Williams remembers having less confidence in the capabilities of the company’s CAM system. He says: “There didn’t seem to be much point in [investing a significant amount in the Mazak] without a CAM system that could help us take full advantage of the machine’s capabilities. We had been thinking about switching to Delcam software for some time and the new 5-axis machine meant it was definitely time to make the change.”

The benefits of the decision soon became apparent. Explains CNC manager Darren Laker: “With our previous software, the tool wouldn’t always be retracted far enough from the job, so we had to check everything really carefully before we sent toolpaths to the machine or we would risk gouging the part. With PowerMILL, we haven’t seen any similar problems.”

“Programming our drilling routines has become much faster. With PowerMILL, you can detect all the holes in a model and group them by size automatically, ready for drilling. Previously, we had to select, measure and program each hole individually. This took far longer and there was always a chance of missing a hole in our more complex parts.”