Our shop designs and builds jigs, fixtures, gauges, stamping dies, specialized machines, and plasticinjection molds for companies across a wide range of industries. To get the job done, we use VX End-to-End CAD/CAM. It comprises a set of advanced 2D and 3D design, mold and die design, and sophisticated CAM modules.
Several factors played a part in the decision to purchase VX. First, the suite of tools was developed by the same company, eliminating file-transfer problems. So it’s easy to get from designs in CAD to toolpaths in CAM. Also, it’s only necessary to contact one company for support. (Anyone who has dealt with several companies for CAD/CAM issues, or even separate divisions in the same company, knows it is no fun at all.)
Authored by Pat Moon.
The software comes from VX Corp.
Before deciding to purchase the software, we were able to play with it and found it and the tutorials impressive. Additionally, the support and training from our VAR, Vertex Enterprises (vertexllc.com), helped us get results quickly. Best yet, the price is right. The software provides broader capabilities than similar programs — and at nearly half the price.
The shop uses most of the modules, working with sketches, wire frame, solids, surfaces, and many of the mold and die commands. VX is easy to use and does what it claims efficiently. Nearly everything we design is created in the context of an assembly. So a design might involve going, say, 12 levels deep in an assembly, yet navigating through them is a breeze.
Examples of recent jobs include designing an assembly for an instrument maker. CAD solid models were not available for all the components, but because VX lets users combine 2D wire frame and 3D parts, it was a simple matter to design the machine, which magazine-feeds a part, clamps the part in place, drills, counterbores, and taps several holes, before ejecting the part.
Another job involved designing a tabletop bending fixture that accepts two different diameters and six different lengths of plastic tubing and bends them into a “U” shape. The tricky part was that the tube expands when heated, so the cam in the middle of the center mandrel had to ride up and down on cam followers. VX’s assembly tools were critical to the solution.
The software is also adept at importing files. The shop frequently begins jobs by importing files from customers. When it comes to machine design, we usually import other files of parts, such as drill heads, air cylinders, and so forth, from the Internet.
An unexpected benefit: The software facilitates communication with customers, which makes life a lot easier. For example, one customer wanted a machine with a cart on it to dump gravel. The machine would move into a dump station at ground level and then move the cart up a certain distance, then dump the load at a 120° angle. At first it seemed the design would require 3° of actuation. But after a while, it became evident that an easier approach was to move the cart’s wheels on two different sets of tracks, actuated by just one set of hydraulic cylinders.
At first, the customer said the machine “sounded like a Rube Goldberg contraption.” Fortunately, the software let me load a demo version on the customer’s computer as a viewer. I then constrained 3D assemblies, gave others limited degrees of movement, and animated the dump station. After seeing it in virtual operation, the customer concluded the solution was actually quite elegant. This simulation capability also lets users verify that designs will work as they expect, ensure dimensions are correct, and be certain components will clear each other in actual operation.
The software even lets customers play “what if” with designs by, for example, altering a dimension or a degree of movement to see the impact on operations. Letting customers get involved in this manner adds another dimension to digital prototyping that facilitates communication and satisfies customers.