Implant Direct, a leading manufacturer of dental implants based in Southern California, has slashed its programming and set-up times with Delcam’s PartMaker SwissCAM software for the programming of Swiss-type lathes.
The team behind Implant Direct has been manufacturing dental implants since 1989 when its founder Dr. Gerald Niznick started Core-Vent Bio-Engineering to make his patented designs. That original company was sold in January of 2001. When Dr. Niznick decided to get back into dental implant manufacturing as Implant Direct in late 2004, he assembled a team of veterans who had worked for him before. These employees had a vast knowledge base in the manufacturing of dental implants. They knew the best way to do things and where the bottlenecks lay.
One of the first bottlenecks the Implant Direct team addressed was the issue of programming. Implant has a bank of over 20 CNC Swiss-type lathes to manufacture its dental implants, most Star SV-12 models. "The way we used to program left a lot of room for error where you could easily crash the machine,” says Bill Aravena, a CNC Specialist at Implant Direct, who is responsible for programming the CNC Swiss machines.
"Starting out as the new company, we researched CAM systems for our programming. When we came across PartMaker, we saw it was really designed to support Swiss machines,” according Wayne Smith, who, as Tooling Manager, programs all the tool-room machines and helps out with programming the CNC Swiss machines.
Now, with PartMaker, programming is done completely off-line with completed programs being sent to the machine. As result, set-up time is measurably reduced because it takes very little time to prove out the program at the machine. Before implementing PartMaker, a great deal more time was spent at the machine writing and editing the program before the first successful part was made.
Although he now does the CNC programming, Mr. Aravena came up from the shop floor. At Implant Directs’ predecessors, he had been a set-up technician. By using PartMaker off-line, Mr. Aravena not only programs the part but he is also able to simulate the machining process fully using the software’s integrated 3D machining simulation before sending the program to the machine.
By programming and proving out parts off-line, not only is Implant Direct able to program and set-up faster, it has made the company’s set-up operators more productive by taking the programming burden off the shop floor. "With PartMaker, we can see everything ahead of time on the computer,” explained Mr. Aravena. The software allows him to apply his experience as a set-up man by giving him a virtual machine environment in which he can prove out part programs before sending them to the shop floor.