What’s a typical day like for you at Dontyne?
For me, it’s pretty much a mixture of everything. I’m not just involved in the technical development of the software, but also the operation of the company. I’m also looking to attend exhibitions and progress meetings. I’m a director of the British Gear Association, and I have to attend such meetings, too. That’s the real diversity.
Dontyne is about to add skiving to its resume. What made you decide to add that skillset?
A lot of what we do is actually customer driven. We first received a request to do skiving simulations about six or seven years ago. At JIMTOF in Japan, where we attend regularly, there’s a company there that made a skiving machine and wanted us to do a simulation so they could design the tools better. And that was on the back of some of the software tools we had done for designing hob and grind simulations and the continuous grinding process and also shaving. So, they wanted us to add this function. But we can’t always do it just for one. There has to be a critical mass, if you like, of users for it.
About three years ago, we started working closely with Mazak out of Florence, Kentucky, on the interface for 5-axis machines. When we supported them in the promotion of the interface and what it could do in relation to gear manufacturing, there were a lot of inquiries then for the skiving option on the machine, so they could put a skiving tool into the magazine and create an involute spline on the component very quickly. And certainly in the last two years we’ve also had that request from several companies that they wanted to be able to design those cutters ahead of manufacturing them.
About two years ago we had enough interest to say we’ll start looking at it now. We also have a list of things we have to work through, like two-dimensional Finite Element (FE) calculations and a more accurate hob grind simulation in 3D, so we had to finish those things off first. But in this year, we began the simulation for the skiving and honing. And they’re ready for our next release scheduled in October.
What other new areas is Dontyne focusing on?
We are concentrating heavily on the manufacturing side. We’ve got form grinding simulations, 5-axis simulations, especially 5-axis related to bevel gear production. I think that’s a very strong option to dedicated gear equipment. We do have some design tools for gear pairs. The manufacturing includes processes that some people even in the automotive industry forget about like forging and plastic gears. We’re quite strong in those areas and helping with the production. So, we will be concentrating on those kinds of areas. We believe the tools that we sell help improve efficiency or reduce waste. We see them as an investment, rather than a cost.
We’ve actually started a facility called Dontyne Gears, which helps in the research and development of products a lot quicker. It’s taken me a good four or five years to put together, but we’re ready to hit the go button with that this year. In fact, we were promoting it at IMTS. We were offering not just design services but the ability to prototype and test. So, we’ve had a good response from some of the manufacturers in the industry who have actually offered their machines so we can form these R&D projects in house without having to outsource. That way we can finish the projects and deliver the results rapidly and securely. We’re looking forward to including that in our portfolio.
What are some of Dontyne’s proudest moments?
One of the proudest things we can say is that we’re still here, because there’s some pretty healthy competition in the form of KISSsoft and Romax and several others. If we didn’t have something significant to offer, then we wouldn’t be here. And that’s been probably one of our biggest challenges is to convince people that the tools that we offer are not the same as those so-called competitors. We never set out to copy what they do. That would be a bit self-defeating.
We definitely aim squarely at a niche. And we think we’ve finally found it. And it’s very encouraging that the response seems to be getting stronger every year.
Where do you see the gear industry in the next 10 years and Dontyne’s place in it?
We’re very much a proponent of the Industry 4.0 attitude of the more flexible production making use of the resources that you have and of more flexible production platforms. We believe our software always sought that from its very inception, and we’ve targeted it at more of the production in order to help link up design and manufacturing, so when this terminology came along of Industry 4.0, that really summed up what we’ve been trying to do all along. So, whoever thought of that, I’d like to thank them. That really summed up in a nutshell what we were trying to do.
Our software provides a platform between the design and the manufacturing and the machining and the inspection in order to optimize production and also performance. I see more and more movement in the next 10 years to more flexible platforms, and we’ll be helping to do that.
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