Sacrificing quality to stay competitive isn’t an option for Jack Kellerman, a long-time kitchen and bath professional whose reputation is built on delivering the best. Partnered with his brother, Kurt, Jack Kellerman opened Kellerman Kitchen & Bath in 1995 after noticing a significant absence in high-quality kitchen and bath showrooms in Baton Rouge and its surrounding areas.
“I was doing a kitchen remodel for myself and saw the void in the Baton Rouge market from a professional design aspect,” says Kellerman, who holds a five-year degree in landscape architecture. “No one had a showroom.”
In addition to offering clientele a kitchen and bath showroom that aids in the visualization of the final product, the Kellerman Kitchen & Bath's website serves as a step-by-step guide for everything from budgeting to appliance selection and “living through a remodel.”
“People want to see more than pretty pictures,” Kellerman says. “They’re looking for information that’s going to help them.”
From the beginning, Kellerman Kitchen & Bath has utilized Cabnetware design-to-manufacturing software, generating detailed drawings of its cabinets and casework. Available from Vero Software, the program continues to be used in the manufacturing process today, Kellerman adds.
Design & manufacturing
In 2000, Kellerman Kitchen & Bath purchased its first CNC router, along with a CAM package to program the new equipment. However, Kellerman, says, that CAM package wasn’t able to serve all of the company’s needs. Kellerman's imaginative designs required a more dynamic and flexible manufacturing tool that would truly unlock the capabilities of his CNC.
“The CAM software that we purchased with our CNC machine was cumbersome and inefficient,” he says. In 2014, the company switched to Alphacam by Vero Software after seeing a demonstration of its capabilities for woodworking, metal, and stone cutting.“If it took me four hours in the old software, I can now do it in an hour.”
According to Kellerman, it is simply a matter of connecting the dots and hitting the "Go" button. He received online training and soon after began using the software to make parts. “I draw the part, apply toolpaths, simulate the machining, generate code, and cut,” he says. “Once you look at it and it looks good, creating G-code is as simple as hitting a button. It’s the simplest process there is.”
The switch to Alphacam also eliminated the need for a separate CAD system. “Alphacam can design and generate code,” Kellerman says, “so if you’re new to CAM, you don’t have to learn a CAD system too....you have CAD features within the system to draw even complex geometry.”
Alphacam software is used for the more unique, complex projects in demand at Kellerman Kitchen & Bath, as well as for a second business that entails the manufacturing of complex profiles and multiple-part assemblies. “I’ve got a proprietary product that I sell on the Internet,” he explains. “It’s got seven individual components that make up the whole product.”
The software's nesting capabilities enable the company to maximize the cutting of multiple size parts of varying dimensions, performed on the Komo 3-axis CNC router with an eight-tool carousel. According to Kellerman, one recent project entailed programming and cutting 85 parts in seven different shapes, for a total of 595 pieces. “I just select the thickness of the material and hit ‘nest,’” he says. “It saves a lot of time. All the time is in the programming, and it’s really cool that I can take a project and do nearly all of the manufacturing on the computer.”
In addition to the Komo CNC router, additional routers and other standard machines are in use at the five-man shop. For some of the custom jobs, Kellerman uses a combination of Alphacam and Aspire, an Alphacam add-in that allows the user to import an image, such as a photograph, to create the part geometry. “Creating the geometry for that part would have taken four to six hours by hand,” Kellerman says. “To be able to make money at creating custom parts, you have to be able to program them quickly and efficiently. [Software] has made it so easy and so fast to program these things.”
To save even more time, Kellerman has added automation to his programming by saving specific machining parameters that he can easily reapply to new parts. “Once it’s set up, I can just select the parameters for the cut and save them.”
Kellerman also uses the tool-creation function to draw the geometry of his tools, “which really helps when you do solid simulation.” Among the tools created by Kellerman are about a dozen unique router bits that can be simulated for greater accuracy in collision detection and overall machining.
“The solid simulation feature in Alphacam is amazing. Not only does it save on materials, which is great, but it saves so much time,” Kellerman explains. “Our old software didn’t simulate it well enough to see any mistakes, so we used to have to cut a part to see the mistakes. We might cut on a part three, four, or even five times to get it right.”
Now, he adds, "When there are problems we are able to see them right away, before we cut the part. Once it simulates the whole thing, you’ve got a cut part that you can look at in three dimensions. You can see every little nit-picky detail.”
Realistic-looking results also possible, with artwork and text easily machined. The engraving command contours geometries with a form tool and, upon meeting a sharp corner, automatically retracts the tool to produce a sharp corner. “It truly looks like it was engraved,” Kellerman says. “It looks like someone took a chisel and engraved it.”
Since implementing the software, Kellerman adds that he has seen a significant increase in both programming and cutting efficiency, as well an increase in his ability to perform complex, custom jobs more quickly and easily than ever before. “We don’t sacrifice anything on materials or processes,” he says. “We do it the best way it can be done."
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