Vancho Tool is a small, family-owned business of 5 employees (owner included), located in beautiful Sterling Heights, Michigan. This small machine shop, located just north of Detroit, has been passed down from father to son and has grown from a shop that uses manual machines to using CNC machines. Their current machines include 3 Haas VF-2 CNC Mills for ball nose parts and CNC Lathes, all running BobCAD’s CAM software.
Long-time employee, Jessica Gibson, takes us through their machining process. “We use one machine for starters to square everything up and another one is poppin’ holes. While that is going on, I and another person (who understand CAD) will start processing pieces, figuring out how to hold it and setting everything up properly to make sure everything is in line. When things have holes popped into them or cutouts, then we put them on the machine after the CAD is set up,” says Gibson. When asked whether she has to draw part files or import them, Gibson told me that it’s a ‘50/50 split’ of drawing part files versus receiving them from clients. Gibson also adds, “sometimes it’s faster to draw the parts because the files aren’t that great.”
Vancho Tool’s production and business relies on the Motor City’s ‘big 3’. The big 3 being GM, Ford and Chrysler. Gibson says, “We make small, detailed parts for automotive assembly lines. These parts go to the ‘big 3’. Our parts will then go on big fixtures at the assembly line. Also, we provide parts for a big robotics company within Michigan as well. We do a lot of onesies and twosies… occasionally we will get some productional.” The BobCAD-CAM feature they use the most to stay productive and profitable is the surfacing feature. According to Gibson, if they have a surface with a radius in it or multiple radii, it’s really important that those little blocks hold a tight tolerance. Gibson explains, “If we weren’t able to get those nice surfaces, we’d be in a big heap of trouble. We wouldn’t be able to do them (in-house), we would have to send them out. We are able to take small enough steps that we don’t have to run a finishing task on it usually.”
When asked if there was any particular CNC project that was significant to her, Jessica was overjoyed to tell me about her first successful part produced. “The first successful part I put on the machine has to be one of the most significant projects that come to mind. I had learned a little bit in class, but it’s different doing it in class versus doing it for real. It took so long because I didn’t know exactly what I was doing, but I was so, so proud of that part because when it came out, I was like, ‘I did that all with a computer, I didn’t have to program it by hand, no g-code… it was great,” says Gibson. Who doesn’t remember their first part, am I right?
As we wrapped up our conversation, I was curious about whether or not Gibson had experienced any issues prior to using BobCAD-CAM software. She said that before using BobCAD, she had been using a really old version of Mastercam. Gibson says, “There are some frustrating issues I encountered when I was trying to show somebody something. I draw it up (in Mastercam) and it ended up taking me 10 times as long as it would to draw in BobCAD. BobCAD’s CAD interface is really user-friendly.” That led me to ask Jessica, ‘how did you end up learning BobCAD software so well?’ She said, “I learned BobCAD without having to take classes… I was able to pick up on everything. Also, BobCAD AfterDark on Youtube, that was a huge help. I still look at the videos all the time and watch all the stuff on it. I will submit something to him (Al DePoalo) that absolutely baffles me and he just makes it seem so simple. That kind of support is just really awesome,” says Jessica. Here at BobCAD, we pride ourselves on being accessible to our customers as much as possible. Thanks for confirming that Mrs. Gibson!
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