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Aerospace and Defense Continuing Education

The term “small business” usually evokes images of a mom-and-pop store selling
trinkets, not of a high-precision, modern aerospace and defense machining shop. But Vinaco Precision
Machining, LLC (VPM) is both. The veteran-owned company was founded in 1986 and has since grown
into a leader in specialty and lights-out machining. How? VPM’s company values are built on a
foundation of continuing education and self-improvement. Aerospace and Defense Continuing Education.

Danny Le, VP of Operations and lead programmer at VPM, shared that the shop relies heavily on
automated equipment to pull ahead of competition. Le has never held the same trepidation towards
technological advancement that some of his counterparts may have. He believes strongly in moving
forward. The shop equipment is set up in large machining centers where pallet-handling units with
robotic arms load and unload parts into the CNC machining units. Other automated outfits load and
unload necessary tools as directed. “It allows us to run machines 24/7, even while running multiple part
families at a time,” said Le.

CNC Machining Units

The AS9100- and ITAR-certified shop holds various Okuma, Matsuura, and Kitamura units, as well as a
Grob-Werke G550 universal machining center. Mastercam® CAD/CAM software (CNC Software, LLC,
Tolland, Connecticut) is used to program, verify, and decode the machines. VPM’s certified supplier,
CAD/CAM CONSULTING SERVICES, INC. (CCCS, Newbury Park, California) installed the software solution
and continues to provide technical support and training, of which Le takes full advantage.

Le is no stranger to self-improvement. As a retired Army Sergeant and Team Leader during Operation
Iraqi Freedom, he appreciates the value in a growth mindset. In fact, he is currently pursuing his Master
of Science in Mechanical Engineering and plans to complete a Masters of Business Administration in Operations and Strategic Management in the future. Le also manages Bruin Consulting, a non-profit business consulting group focused on helping community organizations. When he prescribes continual training for VPM, he knows what he’s doing.

Technical Support

For this, Le relies on CCCS. “Within your own company, you’re in a fishbowl. You only know what’s going
on in your microcosm,” Le remarked. It’s difficult to stay up-to-date on the newest software updates,
technological leaps, and novel cutting approaches. He needs someone outside the fishbowl.

Recently, Le called CCCS Technical Support Expert and Instructor Patrick Aiple with a question about his
software’s Unified Multiaxis toolpath. Le was struggling to accurately direct the tool motion along a 3D
surface. “When you’re taught a certain toolpath, it’s usually in a way that pertains only to a certain
part,” Le explained. “Then, once you switch to another part, it all looks completely different. The
fundamentals don’t apply.” He wanted help making that switch. Aiple quickly saw that the issue was in
how the parameters were set for the part – what Le was taught as the standard — and walked Le
through fine-tuning them over the phone. Aiple developed a geometry and applied it to control the
cutting tool.

At this point, Le was ready for Aiple to hang up the phone. He’d worked with other consulting services
before and thought he knew what to expect. “Normally when you call tech support, they just give you
the answer. They never sit there and explain how you went wrong, how to fix it, and how to adjust your
thinking in the future,” he said. CCCS and Aiple are not typical tech support.


Aiple was not satisfied giving Le a plug-and-play solution. He explained the entire toolpath from start to
finish, allowing Le to interject with questions. Then he picked apart Le’s particular application, noting
how Le had gotten off track. Aiple gave Le tricks to avoid these pitfalls in the future as well as
troubleshooting checklists were it to happen again. Le recalled, “He got me thinking the right way so
that the next time I come across this, I know what to do. I won’t have to call tech support every time I
run into this problem, because now I know what I did wrong in the first place.” Aiple spent over an hour
on the phone with Le.

“There’s a personal relationship there,” said Le. He’s never struggled to get someone on the phone or
even have a rep come out onsite. CCCS offers two-hour training sessions for their clients, during which
they can sit down one-on-one with an application engineer’s undivided attention.

Le recently scheduled one of these sessions with Aiple, now his go-to expert. Like most programmers
using his chosen CAD/CAM suite, Le likes to apply Dynamic Motion Technology toolpaths. These
toolpaths are renowned for their ability to quickly and safely remove material. One such toolpath is
OptiRough, a bidirectional cutting technique that is usually the best choice for roughing operations.

Mastercam School

“The part you train on at the Mastercam school or in your trade school always works wonderfully for
standard OptiRough paths,” said Le. Part of the toolpath’s appeal is its ability to engage the full flute
length of the cutting tool. Naturally, he applies those same techniques in his everyday work.
Unfortunately, the part in question had an odd geometry that only allowed half an inch of the tool to
come into contact with the stock at a time. Roughing took almost an hour and a half, even on the
powerful Grob-Werke 3550.

As Le remembers it, Aiple had not been sitting at the console a full 20 minutes before he detected and
began to correct the hiccup. Fifteen minutes later, Aiple had written new programming that reduced
cycle time from three and a half hours down to two. Over 200 parts, it saved VPM over 300 hours of
machine cut.

Unique scenarios like these are common in the aerospace and defense sectors. For a small business to
stay competitive, a small change like Aiple’s can mean the world. “Being able to leverage that outside
perspective of an expert makes a huge difference,” said Le. He and his team are used to thinking outside
the box for their parts, and Aiple is becoming a key member. Aiple is involved in the WorldSkills
Challenge, an international organization dedicated to empowering young people with vocational skills.
“He’s living and breathing the software for the challenge,” said Le.

Commitment to Progress

Because of Le’s commitment to constant progress, VPM is coming across more and more new
opportunities. He and his team can go to customers with proof of their abilities with tight tolerances and
tight deadlines. The proof turns into better relationships and lasting trust. “The most important aspect
with our customers is that they know they can depend on us,” said Le.

Le said that Aiple has opened his eyes to the outside programming world: out of the fishbowl and into
the ocean, so to speak. “Being around him, I definitely feel like I have a lot to learn, but he’s helping us
all be better. He’s a mentor,” Le said.

VPM’s growth mindset is seeping into every facet of the company, including its two new programmers.
Le encourages them to make use of VPM’s relationship with CCCS as they learn on the job. “He (Aiple)
improved so many things in just a couple of hours,” said Le. “He taught us the value of collaboration in
continuous improvement. That’s been a valuable lesson for us.”

Source: Aerospace and Defense Continuing Education

Strong Relationships and Trust Help Aerospace and Defense Shop with Continuing Education

Opening a Sea of New Opportunities

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