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French customer celebrates 20 years with Delcam Print E-mail
Written by Arjun   
Saturday, 27 October 2007
Delcam Managing Director, Hugh Humphreys, presented a plaque to Laroche General Manager, Hervé Pouyet, during a recent visit to Delcam

Delcam’s longest-standing customer in France, prototype and short-run manufacturing specialist Laroche, has now totalled 20 years as a user of its PowerMILL CAM system.  To mark the occasion, Delcam Managing Director, Hugh Humphreys, presented a plaque to Laroche General Manager, Hervé Pouyet, during a recent visit to Delcam’s Birmingham headquarters from his company’s base to the north of Paris.
Laroche was initially founded more than 100 years ago to machine small mechanical parts and tooling.  Now, the company specialises in high-added value prototypes and small production runs of parts for the automotive, aerospace, defence and medical markets.  It machines all types of materials, including titanium, Inconel and stainless steel, and is now moving into composites.  Well known customers include Peugeot, Citroen and Renault in the automotive industry, and Snecma/Safran, Dassault and Eurocopter in the aerospace sector.  Laroche has also supplied components for the Ariane space programme.

Since 1977 when it introduced its first numerically controlled machine, Laroche has used its financial stability to invest in an increasing pool of modern equipment.  The company now has twenty-four CNC machines.  Of these, ten are high-speed machines, while eleven have five-axis capabilities.  The most recent additions are dedicated machines for drilling and trimming of composites and other plastics.  These have been used for large-scale projects, including the machining of five-metre-long helicopter blades made from a combination of composite materials and polyurethane resin.

Laroche was one of the first French companies to introduce high-speed machining more than seventeen years ago.  The range of high-speed strategies in PowerMILL is one of the reasons why Mr. Pouyet has always been reluctant to move from his Delcam software.

Laroche was also a pioneer of five-axis machining, at a time when Delcam offered limited support for the technology.  "My one frustration with PowerMILL came after we installed our first five-axis machine some six years ago,” admitted Mr. Pouyet.  "However, since then, the five-axis capabilities have got better and better, so I’m now very glad that I stayed with Delcam.”

"To keep our customers happy, we need to machine high-quality products, in a variety of materials, as quickly and accurately as possible,” explained Mr. Peuyet.  "There is never enough time to optimise anything so everything must be right first time.  PowerMILL gives us the strategies, the flexibility and the reliability that we need.”

From its machining background, Laroche has broadened its capabilities to include design and product development services.  Close relationships have been developed with the design departments in its key customers, particularly those in the automotive industry.

One joint development involved port machining of cylinder heads for Citroen rally cars.  "The flexibility of our five-axis machines and the newer strategies in PowerMILL allowed us to create these complex shapes to extremely demanding levels of accuracy,” claimed Mr. Peuyet.  "We are now looking for other areas where we can apply direct machining from solid to replace castings.”
"France has high costs so we must stay in high-value markets if we are to continue to grow.  PowerMILL is essential to our success, both because of the increased productivity and also because of the high accuracy it gives.”
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