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case study

Reducing the time it takes to update tools to allow for quick response to design improvements from hours to minutes

JP Pattern uses NX CAD and CAM solutions for over 35 years, streamlining data access and speeding up their processes

JP Pattern uses NX CAD and CAM solutions for over 35 years, streamlining data access and speeding up their processes

JP Pattern

Established in 1964, JP Pattern is a family-owned business that focuses on manufacturing high-quality patterns, tools and dies for a wide array of industries.
Butler, Wisconsin, United States
Industry Sector:
Aerospace & defense, Marine, Industrial machinery


With Siemens NX, going from a CAD design to CAM machining is simply a menu button click.
Gary Puhl, Vice President
JP Pattern

Building a legacy for molds, machining and tooling

Established in 1964 by Joseph Puhl, a pattern maker from Austria, JP Pattern is a family-owned business headquartered in Butler, Wisconsin, that started as a pattern shop using wood to create sand cast pattern tooling. After expanding the business on the mid-1970 to meet additional customer needs, the company added capabilities for creating metal patterns and molds. This expansion included lost-wax pattern tooling for investment casting foundries casting high temperature alloys.

To keep up with their evolving business, JP Pattern uses NX™ software, which is part of the Siemens Xcelerator business platform of software, hardware and services. Since 1989, the company has used NX as their primary tool for computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM).


NX stands the test of time

After using NX for over three decades, JP Pattern is familiar with how the solution has evolved over the years. Originally, the company was using Unigraphics software; however, after several rounds of rebranding and acquisitions, Siemens AG purchased NX in 2007 and made it an integrated solution for design and manufacturing.

Previously, when JP Pattern focused on making patterns for sand castings, one challenge they continually faced was draft. Sand patterns require drafted surfaces; thus, sand molds cannot draw on straight vertical surfaces. This causes problems with mold designs when the parting surfaces are not flat. To overcome this challenge, JP Pattern realized they needed to improve their design tools and find a solution that could progress beyond surface-level modeling.

“In the 1990s, we didn’t have many options for CAD and CAM solutions,” says Gary Puhl, vice president at JP Pattern. “The important question for us was whether we could make what we designed. This is where Siemens, or at the time, Unigraphics, came through for us. Now, with a CAD and CAM package, using NX ensures we can make what we design.”

By being able to create and manufacture their designs, JP Pattern can keep this process in-house and avoid sending it to another company to manufacture. This helps streamline their processes and improves their ability to serve their customers.

“With Siemens NX, going from a CAD design to CAM machining is simply a menu button click,” says Puhl.


Updating tools quickly and efficiently

Years ago, when JP Pattern would update a tool or design, making changes and regenerating the tools would take hours, which often meant leaving it to process overnight. Now, with NX, designers can execute these changes and regenerate the CAM quickly and efficiently.

For example, with one project, the foundry made changes to the model, which was complex since there were about seven tools they needed to update. Previously, making these updates would have been an overwhelming and time-consuming problem. However, with NX, these updates only took 15 to 20 minutes. Additionally, generating new toolpaths takes two to three minutes.

“This is a major benefit of using NX,” says Puhl. “Since designing a tool is always a work-in-process, there’s always something we need to change or add. When we edit a design tool in NX, we can make those changes and see the result in minutes.”


Accessing archived data from decades ago

Another benefit of using NX for so long is the ability to access data from years ago quickly and easily.

“With NX, we’ve pulled up data created on day one, and it easily populates in our current software version,” says Puhl. “We pride ourselves on being able to access data we created 35 years ago. This is something not many other systems or companies can do.”

Although most companies need to refile their data so they can access their legacy data or pick and choose what data to delete or keep, by using the same solution for decades, JP Pattern has never had to worry about whether they would be able to retrieve data, be it from a month or 30 years ago. “We’ve had that capability throughout the time we’ve used NX,” says Puhl.


Using the same solutions as their customers

JP Pattern works with a variety of customers, including Mercury Marine, Princeton Plasma Physics Lab and Type One Energy. Since they serve such a broad spectrum of industries, it is important they streamline data and communicate efficiently. Many of JP Pattern’s customers also use NX. By using the same programs as their customers, they can share native data, making it easier for the customer to share, archive and access information about their design and tool.

Continuing to use NX

Although there were a limited number of solutions in the 1990s, that is no longer the case today. Despite having more options to choose from, JP Pattern continues to renew their contract with Siemens Digital Industries Software. By leveraging NX, they can continue reaping the benefits they have already been receiving, as well as stay efficient by not switching to or introducing another solution and using the same tool as most of their customers.

“We thought about having a lower-end solution for smaller jobs and keeping NX for the larger jobs,” says Puhl. ”However, if someone runs into a problem, they will just hop on the bigger system. And then what happens? Are they going to go back to the smaller system? Probably not, since using NX checks all the boxes. This is the philosophy we had in mind when we considered how many seats of NX we would need.”

With NX, we’ve pulled up data created on day one, and it easily populates in our current software version.
Gary Puhl, Vice President
JP Pattern