Daycab Company

Daycab Company cuts machine time in half with the specialized 5-axis multi-cut cycles in Surfcam Traditional

Necessity may be the mother of invention, but Daycab Company knows that creating solutions for the retrofitting of existing transport and industrial equipment is simply good business.

Having initially carved itself a niche in converting class-8 trucks to fulfill an array of varied transport needs, the company has expanded and continues to increase its scope in the delivery of composite and mold manufacturing services, with a specialty in light RTM fiberglass work.

Located in Rockwood, Tennessee, 20-year-old Daycab Company continues to offer conversion services, but is now the parent company of DC Composites, a moniker that reflects the evolving nature of its business. In addition to offering fiberglass and thermoformed manufacturing services, Daycab Co. offers pre-made conversion kits and accessories for the do-it-yourself crowd.

“Over the highway trucks have sleeper cabs on them and we literally cut the trucks in half to install parts and panels that would fill that void,” said Senior CAD Technician and CAM Programmer Zachary Martin, who has worked in the company’s engineering department for 12 years. “Over the past few years, we have gone from just converting class-8 trucks to also winning contracts from customers, across all industries, in need of composites and molds.”
 

“The ease of use of Surfcam and the customer support have been very good. Whenever I’ve had issues, they’ve responded back right away and it was taken care of within minutes.”

Zachary Martin, senior CAD technician and CAM programmer

Among repurposing projects are the conversion of long-haul trucks into short-haul trucks and long-haul trucks into easier functioning farm haulers. The lion’s share of Daycab Company’s customers are used-parts dealers, trucking companies, and farmers. “A lot of these customers were trying to make these conversions themselves by, say, slapping on a piece of wood, which creates a result that’s often unattractive, doesn’t perform well, and doesn’t help the resell value of the truck.”

As newer class-8 trucks tend to be made of thermoformed and other plastic parts, they don’t lend themselves well to an easy DIY refurbishment, which is another plus for diversification. “We’re trying to find new ways to work with the new trucks,” Martin says.

“Looking at the DC Composites aspect, we’re making the modifications and parts for customers. A lot of people have molds that are handmade and were subcontracted out, and they just keep using them, even if they’re in bad shape. We can duplicate their molds well and fairly inexpensively, and we can produce a smooth, class-A finish.”

Daycab has used the Surfcam Traditional computer-aided-manufacturing (CAM) solution, by Vero Software, to program its machinery since 2006 and continues to find new ways to utilize the solution as the company’s services expand. Today, Surfcam Traditional is used to drive the company’s 3-axis and 5-axis routers. “Everything’s done on a CNC,” Martin says. “It’s always the same and there are no discrepancies. The ease of use of Surfcam and the customer support have been very good. Whenever I’ve had issues, they’ve responded back right away and it was taken care of within minutes.”

Daycab is also one of a few truck cab upholsterers that helps to restore upholstery in older trucks. “We use Surfcam to cut the upholstery board that is then sewn on using our 3-axis router,” Martin says. “We have always manufactured interiors for our Daycab Company conversion panels, but over the years customers started asking for their old truck interior reconditioned. Over the past couple of years, we have gained the ability to thermoform interior panels as well. That goes back to using Surfcam to machine the molds.”

Much of Martin’s job entails recreating and updating parts, which begins by hand-carving models based on existing parts from crafting foam to “get the look and feel” of the final result before production begins. “This could be a part that we need a replica of, or it could be a part that will be changed a little,” he says.

Once the carving is finished, the part is scanned with a 3D scanner, the mesh files are processed in VXElements™ software, which generates a file that is imported into the SOLIDWORKS® computer-aided-design (CAD) solution, by Dassault Systèmes. Once Martin is satisfied with the part design, he imports the SOLIDWORKS solid model into Surfcam Traditional to apply toolpath. SOLIDWORKS’s associativity with Surfcam Traditional makes it easy for Martin to quickly open a SOLIDWORKS file from within the Surfcam Traditional interface.

“If something small has to be adjusted in my part when I’m in the process of machining it, I can adjust it in SOLIDWORKS easily and without much effort it’s updated in Surfcam,” Martin says. “That’s a big timesaver.”

Molds for plastic parts are machined in high-density tooling board, after which they can be placed in a thermoforming oven to create the final part. For fiberglass parts, a urethane tooling board is machined, coated, and shot with a resin/plaster build mixture. The mold is finished once pulled from the tooling board.

Once the molds are manufactured, the DC Composites team uses them to produce about 50 parts each month, per customer. The parts range in size from small pieces — roughly the size of a soap dish — to panels nearly 10 feet in length. “We’re doing long panels with intricate curvatures, and we can cut a block of foam that’s 36 inches high, five feet wide, and almost 10 feet long.”

To manufacture his custom and often complex molds, Martin takes advantage of the specialized 5-axis cycles available in Surfcam Traditional, including the 5-axis multi-surface cut strategy. Multi-cut includes six options for multi-surface cutting patterns, including planar, parallel to surface, morph between two surfaces, parallel to curve, morph between two curves, and normal to curve strategies to customize how the geometry will be cut.

Multi-cut cycles are ideal for machining complex surfaces, especially those with complex, often subtle curvatures. To use the cycle, programmers select several surfaces, which can be chained together to create a seamless surface finish, free of blend marks.

Likewise, the Surfcam Traditional 5-axis multi-surface swarf cycle offers two cutting patterns, parallel to curve and morph between two curves, to maintain contact with 3D doubly curved surfaces while using the side of the tool for tool axis control.

“These save me a lot of time,” Martin says. “When you have big surfaces, a lot of times there are a lot of little surfaces involved. If I can chain all of those together, the surface is seamless —and in certain tooling boards you can have starts and stops because the bits have a little bit of downdraft. The multi-surface eliminates that and the tool connects to all of the surfaces, so it’s cutting your machine time in half as well as your hand finishing time because your tool is not having to move as much.”


About the Company

Name: Daycab Company

Business: Conversion products and services for the retrofitting of transport and industrial equipment, as well as upholstery services

Website: daycabs.com

 

Benefits Achieved

  • Specialized cycles simplify the process of manufacturing molds with complex surfaces
  • Interoperability between CAD and CAM systems
  • Increased production standardization and repeatability

Comments

“The ease of use of Surfcam and the customer support have been very good. Whenever I’ve had issues, they’ve responded back right away and it was taken care of within minutes.”

Zachary Martin, Senior CAD Technician and CAM Programmer

 

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