LEGO engineer Thilip Ponnampalam recently spent a week undertaking advanced training in PowerMILL, Delcam’s CAM system for high-speed and five-axis machining, following his award of a Hans Schiesser scholarship. The scholarship can be used by the winner for any training relevant to his work and Mr. Ponnampalam chose to develop his CAM skills at Delcam’s Birmingham headquarters.
LEGO has used PowerMILL for more than ten years in its Prototyping & Tooling Division and now uses thirteen seats of the software to produce the moulds for its LEGO and duplo bricks, as well as for parts for the special characters in its Star Wars, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean and other ranges.
Mr. Ponnampalam has worked in Prototyping & Tooling since March, 2006. During that time he has become so expert in the use of PowerMILL that he carries out regular training in the software for his colleagues. He is responsible for testing all new versions of PowerMILL and for sending feedback to Delcam’s development team in Birmingham.
In particular, Mr. Ponnampalam has become expert in using the macro language in PowerMILL to customise the software specifically to meet LEGO’s needs. The macros he has created make it easier for less experienced engineers to use the software and ensure that they use the optimum milling strategies to machine the moulds. Both these factors allow everyone in the team to improve their output.
The scholarship judges said that Mr. Ponnampalam “possesses a very keen interest in, and knowledge of, many of the technical processes used at LEGO but is unique when it comes to CAM programming. His knowledge of PowerMILL is exceptional and contributes greatly to the efficient manufacture of moulds. This is one of the company’s core competencies and critical to LEGO’s continued success.”
The scholarship was established in 1982 by Borg-Warner Chemicals, GE Plastics BV and Thuesen & Funch in memory of Hans Schiesser, who devoted much of his life to the development of plastic raw materials and plastic moulding technology within the LEGO Group. It supports the training and professional development of young, promising LEGO engineers.