Alphacam licence aids PPE production

A free evaluation licence from Alphacam meant that a manufacturer could put a machine awaiting commissioning to work producing essential PPE for front-line health workers. Codem Composites had recently invested in a pre-owned Blackman & White CNC cutting machine, with a bed capacity of 2.2 sq m, to cut carbon fibre pre-impregnated with an epoxy resin. The carbon fibre serves to make components for the motorsport industry and satellite dishes.

“The machine hadn’t been fully commissioned and we had post-processing issues with the software and interface – we didn’t want to invest several thousand pounds in software immediately, given the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19,” explains managing director Kevin Doherty. “However, when we got the call asking us to cut NHS scrubs, we approached Alphacam to help get the machine up and running. Alphacam supported our efforts by providing us with a free evaluation licence.”

The software gave Codem complete flexibility and speed of production by optimising nests. Running at a capacity of around 500 full sets of scrubs a week, the Blackman & White machine cuts components for a group of volunteers in Northamptonshire to put together.

Alphacam accurately interrogates the DXF file for each of the patterns, and computes all permutations and variables.

“So rather than someone having to work everything out manually, such as what we are going to cut, how we are going to cut it, and what’s got to go where, we simply input which components we need in which sizes,” he says. “Alphacam does the rest, including helping us with the correct cutting speeds and feed rates. The first cut parts came off the machine within 24 hours of installing the software.”

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