Graitec and Autodesk combine to help Penta rise to the CAM machining challenge
Based in Portchester, near Fareham in Hampshire, Penta Precision Engineering is a specialist engineering company, focused on providing a high-quality precision machining service to customers to an ISO 9001 quality accredited standard. The company, which was founded in 1998, started out manufacturing tooling for an international computer firm.
Today, Penta manages the machining requirements for customers across a wide range of industry sectors – from aerospace to marine equipment, and from medical devices to military cameras. The company uses a range of three-, four- and five-axis CNC machines, quick set tooling and fixtures, and CAM techniques to ensure designs meet exacting customer requirements and deliver quality parts, jigs and fixtures.
To keep up with industry demands and customer requirements, it is important for Penta to continuously evolve its tooling design. Thanks to a period of significant growth, the company urgently needed to find a seamless, efficient and cost-effective approach to CAM, which would allow it to unify its design, engineering and manufacturing process onto a single software platform and deliver the highest possible quality services to its customers.
To achieve this approach, Penta turned to leading Autodesk reseller, Graitec, and Autodesk® Fusion 360®, a cloud-based 3D modelling, CAD, CAM, CAE and PCB software platform for product design and manufacturing. Penta was attracted by the rich functionality of the software, its cost-effectiveness, and its ability to coordinate design, engineering, and manufacturing tasks all in one platform. Penta can bring parts into Fusion; design and develop jigs and fixtures; create a CNC code; download it to the machines and machine the part. It is a one stop tool.
Andy Vick, Manufacturing Quality Manager at Penta Precision Engineering, explained: “What’s particularly beneficial about this software is its flexibility. Importing customer models does not cause us any problems. If we need to, we can use it to create 2D engineering or process drawings. That fits well with how we work because we need to be agile and fast-moving to keep up with demand.
“The software has now been rolled out across the business,” Andy confirms. “Around 75% of the team use it daily, and others are occasional users, who need it to view models and gather information.” Throughout the rollout, Graitec has delivered training to Penta on the new Fusion 360 solution. The company also provides ongoing support and is quick to react to any issues the Penta team may have.
Penta has a user-based licence for the Autodesk software. That means any authorised user can log in on a laptop or PC, no matter where in the factory they are located, and access the data. As Andy explains: “That makes it really flexible. You can do modelling work when and where it suits you, and you can work offline a lot easier than with server-based systems. “The software is also very user-friendly,” he continues. “CAD/CAM systems can be really challenging. They are very powerful pieces of software with lots of functions, but you can pick up Fusion 360 relatively easily and start running with it. Manipulating models, creating fixtures and extrapolating relevant information are all intuitive – and it is quick to alert you if your CAD and CAM models don’t align.”
Autodesk makes regular investment in Fusion 360, which is good for Penta as the functionality of the software is continuously evolving. Ultimately though, the main benefit is that everyone within the business is working with one piece of software for both CAD and CAM, and that drives efficiencies.