To give our customers a closer look at our operations, we recently reached out to our engineering team for their take on custom orders, software, and more.
- When customers within the aerospace industry come to Cutting Dynamics requesting custom orders, what does this process typically look like, and what is a typical timeline for an order?
Requests for new orders typically come through a CDI account manager, sales person, or Customer Service representative. Engineering’s involvement in the review of new orders varies by customer and product complexity, but is always involved when any kind of tooling or fixturing may be required.
Engineering reviews all new jobs and parts prior to planning and production to ensure we have a full part definition, and address any technical issues or questions that may exist. Meetings with the customer may be necessary in these circumstances, and are welcomed to help us better understand customer needs.
Engineering conducts prototype trials for all new tooling we design, and validates results before releasing the tooling for production. Once a complete CDI production drawing is created and all documents necessary for production are in place, the jobs are then released for final planning and production.
Timelines for new orders vary greatly, as we offer a wide variety of products and services. Things that can help minimize lead times include:
- Having clear and complete product definition
- Having clear and complete quality requirements
- Keeping an open line of communication with regard to scheduling needs and priorities
- From CDI Engineering’s standpoint, this means 3D model definition, clear and concise tolerancing / dimensional requirements, and complete process specifications
- Can you describe some of the basic software used by your team (e.g., Solid Works) on a regular basis and why it’s important?
Solid Works is our primary design tool, and we use different add-ins like CAMWorks (machine programming) and Logopress (custom flat blanks) to support our engineering functions.
CATIA is utilized for loading / viewing / saving of customer native datasets. These datasets are translated into Solid Works, and then validated back against the original dataset using Kubotek translation validation software. Sigma Nest software is used by our team to optimize sheet nesting to improve shop efficiencies and save on material costs.
- In addition to software, what are some other forms of technology your team uses regularly? How has recent technology benefited or expedited the steps in these processes?
We have an Engineering Manufacturing area, which is considered part of our Engineering team, where we have a variety of work centers and machines used to develop tooling and fixtures, as well as to support production processes.
Our production equipment is also available to our engineering team for prototyping, some of which our engineers are trained to use themselves, and includes brake presses, a hydroform machine, bridgeports, etc. Our engineers also use a Creaform optical CMM located in our QC Department for reverse engineering samples and tooling, as well as validating prototype results.
- What are some of the most rewarding aspects of engineering in the field of aerospace?
The parts we supply are often challenging, which keeps us sharp. But ultimately, it’s the end use of our product and seeing it fly on the aircraft that is most rewarding. Specific to engineering at CDI, we have a very team-oriented environment that works hand in hand with production to meet customer needs. Everyone on the team learns to process and handle all types of orders for all customers. This, combined with cross-functional training, helps all members of the team gain experience and grow as professionals.
- When it comes to engineering for the aerospace industry, what makes Cutting Dynamics as a whole stand out from other companies/the competition?
As a whole, CDI can provide parts and services that are equal to or better than most bigger aerospace companies, but maintain the flexibility and responsiveness of a smaller family-owned business. Our Engineering Department is no different. Our engineering staff is comprised of individuals with both engineering and manufacturing backgrounds that can provide technical support and input on manufacturability to our customers.
We appreciate the opportunity to be involved with our customers during the design phase of their projects, so potential manufacturing pitfalls can be avoided before parts are even ordered. Establishing good technical relationships is important to us, and helps to form longer lasting partnerships for future business.
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