CCAT - Big Gains from Machining Optimization


EAST HARTFORD, CT - Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology Inc. (CCAT), recently completed a machining optimization project for Phoenix Manufacturing in Enfield, CT that resulted in a significant run time reduction of 70%. The part, a component for a next generation aircraft, is currently in low rate production at Phoenix but the demand for the part is expected to increase sevenfold in the coming years.

Phoenix's current machining process includes significant roughing cuts performed on a very capable OKK HMC at Phoenix. To perform the optimization, Mark DiLorenzo, President of Phoenix, provided CCAT with some basic information regarding the process and part. CCAT's team analyzed the part using an optimization tool by Celeritive Technologies called VoluMill. VoluMill's optimization approach is to create tool paths that take constant volume of material cuts and dynamically adjust the feed rate. This approach speeds up the material removal and increases tool life. The recommended tool paths were fed into Mastercam and additional improvements were made based on the experience of CCAT's machining specialist.

A small sector of the total part was used to prove out the program. Based on the trial run, it was estimated that a 50%+ reduction in run time would be achieved. Mr. DiLorenzo and his CNC programmer witnessed a run of the sample and discussed integration with their finishing operations. Pleased with the results, Mr. DiLorenzo encouraged CCAT to run the full part.

As not to impact ongoing production at Phoenix, CCAT produced a second fixture and the full part was run on CCAT's Hurco VMX42U. Total run time for the roughing operation was reduced 70%. The recommended tool path was uploaded back into Seimens NX CAM package and Phoenix's programmer was then able to append the existing finishing operations and post process the file for execution on their machine.

"I gave CCAT a very complex part to optimize. I knew there was opportunity for cycle time reduction, but didn't expect a 70% improvement. This is huge," noted Mark DiLorenzo of Phoenix.

"We understand that many small manufacturers do not have the time to explore, evaluate, and learn emerging manufacturing technologies. Our ability to work outside their production schedules gives CCAT the time to solve demanding machining issues that small manufactures may struggle to solve on their own. This capability to apply the technology and actually produce demonstration parts makes CCAT unique," noted Bob Torrani, Director of the Manufacturing & Supply Chain Initiative at CCAT.

For more information about the program and CCAT's services, please contact Bob Torrani at or 860-282-4223.


The Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology, Inc. (CCAT) helps private and public entities to apply innovative tools and practices to increase efficiencies, improve workforce development and boost competitiveness. CCAT functions as a unique economic development organization that combines expertise in cutting-edge technology with specialized centers of excellence in manufacturing, education, training, energy, and entrepreneurialism. Throughout these efforts, we promote partnership between industry, academia, and government to create a new collaborative framework for addressing 21st-century economic challenges.