Advanced Mold Technologies Support Japan's basic Industry. Selected as one of the "300 Small and Medium-sized Companies that Lead the Way in Manufacturing" publication, 2008.
Marusun Suruga Group is a mold/press specialty company that was established in 1955. They design and create specialty molds, jigs, and presses in a wide spectrum that includes: Press molds, injection-forming molds, thermoforming molds, FRP and SPM specialized molds, and more.
Marusun supports basic industry by producing high quality and precision molding for parts used in automobiles, home electronics, and even spacecraft.
In 2006, Marusun started an overseas subsidiary, Marusun Vietnam Inc., specialized in designing mold and die. Marusun brought the local hires to Japan and trained them in the necessary skills to do the job. The design software Marusun chose to use was CADmeister by UEL Corporation (UEL).
Marusun tried cutting costs by using the Internet to work together with our subsidiary in Vietnam.
Mr.Nakazato, Manager, Design. Dept., leading the Solid Mold Design Group, describes his experience of introducing CADmeister into the workflow as follows...
"CADmeister was released in July 2005, and we started using it in November the same year. We had tried to do Solid Design previously, in 2000, using CADCEUS-5R,but at that time the specifications for those machines were inadequate for what we wanted to do they caused delays and troubles for other project schedules so we suspended our work in Solid Design.
Then, in 2005, just when we were thinking that our work with the Vietnam subsidiary would have to center around three dimensional design, the three dimensional CAD/CAM system CADmeister was released."
The first support UEL provided was in the form of education and training.
In addition to 4 members of Marusun's design division using the CADmeister system for the first time, there were also 6 members from the Vietnam subsidiary in attendance so it was necessary to educate 10 people as soon as possible.
UEL provided Marusun with an instructor who offered useful training in a timely manner. "Despite the not insignificant language barrier between our staff and the Vietnamese staff, the UEL instructor did a great job of facilitating learning for all."
They listened to the ideas and needs that came from our workplace.We were satisfied with the level of communication we achieved with UEL.
At Marusun, CADmeister is mainly used to design molds for press parts production.
Mr. Nakazato tells that they have tried several other kinds of CAD software for doing Solid Design and that each package has its strengths and weaknesses.
"Other than UEL, they are all foreign software makers. They tend to be very fast in releasing new versions of their products, which is good, but we were worried that they wouldn't have time to listen to and incorporate the needs we have into their software. For us, the deciding factors were the nearby location of the UEL business office in Mishima, and the way in which both product development and sales were close enough to us. It really helps that we can contact them without hesitation whenever we don't understand something about CADmeister or whenever trouble strikes they even help us out in matters not directly related to CAD software."
Moving forward, Marusun plans to use CADmeister in ways that go beyond just design. "The merits of using the same system from the beginning to the end of the production process are considerable. We plan to use CADmeister for forming simulation, crafting technique planning, design, and actual production."
We were able to meet the needs of our customers by making a smooth transition to Solid Design.
Mr. Nakazato describes how the timing of Marusun's smooth introduction of CADmeister meshed perfectly with the sudden spike in demand for Solid Design from the auto manufacturing clients.
He also informs us that the total man-hours required to do design work has steadily decreased in some ideal situations of reuse design they have seen design work being finished in a quarter of the time it used to take.
"Since we are a company specializing in custom order mold design and production, we don't get a large number of repeat orders which would allow us to leverage the efficiencies of the design system even more. While we are of course aiming to reduce total design time, for us the most important thing now is to build up a strong track record with a variety of products we have built using Solid Design.
Also, just as we had hoped, when you do solid design in this way you can move information and experience to future projects, leading to greater overall manufacturing productivity. For example, while we also use Die Stackers, a system for the first stage production, their integration with Solid Design has led to greater speed, more automation, and lower costs.
With the help of Cast manufacturers who are next in the production process, we are hearing how our being able to supply them with Solid Data is helping to shorten their lead times."
I expect UEL to continue making their CAD system easier to use, and to develop elements, like the viewer, which are not part of the core system.
"Now some two years in, we are at the stage where so long as we have trained staff at the ready, there are no real problems using CADmeister to do Solid Design work. Rather, the issue facing us now is that production facilities are not keeping up with the transition to Solid Design."
Mr. Nakazato mentioned that there were times the solid designs for parts were already completed, but then his company also had to supply two-dimensional blueprints to the outsourcers as well. In order to help manufacturing floors appreciate the power of Solid Design, he thinks CADmeister should be updated and should come with more kinds of tools.
"You can't make things with just shape information. For example, one issue involves how to deal with geometric tolerance in Solid Data. In the case of 2 dimensional CAD blueprints you can grasp shape information and text information together in one glance. In the case of Solid Design the dimensions are not seen, therefore, it leads to all sorts of interpretations of the data. So I am pushing systematic approach for resolving this issue. For example, we asked UEL to work on developing a viewer application, got feedback from our production workers about viewer's designs, and we asked UEL's systems engineers to come to do training on how best to use Solid Design in the production workplace."
Mr. Nakazato wants UEL to develop affordable tools that would allow small family companies with limited resources and elder engineers to begin using Solid Designs in their work.
"Even among experienced mold producers, there are still many people who stumble when they get to parametrics and its history editing operation and they end up giving up. In order to clear up any resistance that may exist at the point of production, I want UEL to look at things from our perspective and to come up with a software product with fewer hurdles for users to clear."
Solid Design is a tool for engineer's education.We want to train engineers who know how to design.
Mr. Nakazato, with the confidence of an experienced engineer, describes how it is fine that the Solid Design system helps bring employees up to speed, but in the end, he insists, human must have complete control on the whole design process.
"When the system gets a new command, it follows that a new way to do design will follow. There will be many such changes to the design process still, it should always be the work of the engineer to do the thinking and the actual design work. I frequently say to UEL's systems engineers that if engineers and designers stop using their heads and just rely on the system and on familiar patterns of operation to determine what designs are actually possible then all will be lost. If your company has many engineers who do not understand the meaning of their work, prior processes or the steps that must follow their work, then the engineering strength of your company can only continue to decline. Craftsman's expertise is the key of the mold business. So while Japan has been called the leader in the industry, these days China and other Asian countries are getting very close indeed, when you factor in the price differential there are cases where we can't win. At the very least, I want to maintain the high level of engineering work done in Japan. Solid Design is one tool for training professional engineers. My goal is to train solid engineers both here and in Vietnam who will become useful workers in the next 3 to 5 years."