"With PowerMill Robot, we make some fantastic stuff," claims Derek Gibb, Production Manager at CNC Polystyrene. "It’s always nice to see the smile on the customer’s face."
CNC Polystyrene makes large-scale models for scenery, in-store displays and special events, in lots of different finishes and specifications for both indoor and outdoor use. Since it began using PowerMill Robot and an ABB640 robot, CNC Polystyrene is able to produce bigger and better items, while maintaining a high level of accuracy and consistency. The ABB robot has a reach of up to 3.2 metres, allowing the company to create much larger pieces.
"We used to do a lot of work for TV and films where we were restricted by the size that we could produce in one piece," explained Mr. Gibb. "With the robot, we can go up to two and a half metres high and almost two metres wide all the way round. You can create things much quicker in one piece, instead of having to make and assemble multiple pieces."
CNC Polystyrene has carried out projects for major high street stores such as GAP, Harvey Nicholls, Selfridges and Harrods, as well as for smaller retailers. It also undertook work on props used for the opening and closing ceremonies at the Olympics. Another unusual project was producing a series of two-metre-tall rabbits for the Ann Summers retail chain.
Managing Director, Jeff Phillips believes that "PowerMill Robot is the very best in the industry; that’s why we’ve decided to go that way." An important benefit of the software is that it ensures that the robot can create genuinely identical products. "In the old days, with hand carving you could make models that looked similar but nowadays, customers want the models to be absolutely the same," he commented.
PowerMill Robot allows CNC Polystyrene to see the program on the computer before actually cutting which helps to reduce waste and so ensures that the company can offer its clients the best price for the project. In addition, CNC Polystyrene can send video footage of the simulation to its customers so that they can see what the finished product will look like and, if required, make changes before any material is cut.
Having used the initial VB application for robot machining, CNC Polystyrene has been impressed by the new version that has been completely rewritten and fully embedded inside PowerMill. As well as giving users access to all the multi-axis machining strategies within PowerMill, the new software allows numerous projects to be worked on at the same time. "The new software makes the whole process a lot easier," added Mr. Gibb.
"Whenever I’ve had to phone up the support team, they’ve always been very helpful," said Mr. Gibb. "If they couldn’t figure out the problem there and then, I would upload the files and they would then run it through on their software, see where the problem lies and provide a solution."
"Our clients want bigger and better models, and we have to be in that market," concluded Mr. Phillips. "Without the robot and software, we would not have survived."