Thriving on Close Tolerance 5-Axis Parts: DP Products Inc.

By January 20, 2016Articles

Danny has been a big supporter of the Mazak brand for a long time. He feels they give the best bang for his buck and likes that they offer every size and type of machine he might need. The uniformed controls that Mazak machines have leads to fewer mistakes made on the shop floor. DP Products’ 17,000 sq.ft. manufacturing facility includes mills, lathes, 5-axis machining centers, grinders, wire EDM, and a state of the art quality lab to support their complex parts made out of exotic materials.

DP Products Inc. President and owner, Danny Papadatos, has been in the machining business for 37 years. It started for him at a vocational high school and progressed from there. He “fell into the trade” when he got a job at a local San Jose, CA. machine shop. With an aptitude for machining, he continued his education through various community college programs and hard work.

“The first shop I worked in is where I picked up what I call my trade secrets,” describes Danny. “We do things a little differently here at DP Products and those differences are my competitive advantage.” Where most would run a particular job on a mill, Danny and his team might not. His outside the box, can-do thinking is what draws customers from around the world for their short run and prototype needs.

Danny realized the old saying of “hard work is rewarded” is very dependent on the people you work for. Over the years he felt like he was being controlled, held back, and stuck inside a box. “I came to this country with my family when I was 7 years old from Greece,” tells Danny. “America is touted as the land of opportunity, but you have to take that opportunity and do something with it. I had engineering friends in the business that encouraged me to undertake side projects for them. For the longest time I didn’t. Then one day I did, and things took off from there.” Danny emptied out his bank accounts; sold everything of value that he owned, and in 1992 opened up a 7,000 sq.ft. shop with two manual mills, two manual lathes, two CNC mills and common tools like grinders, and measuring instruments. “I’ve always worked hard and given everything I had, but it was different doing it for myself. I liked that the lid of the box was open for me.” He hired a sales guy and reinvested everything he made back into DP Products. Soon he was able to work full time for himself, and he has never looked back.

Danny discovered right away that manufacturing parts on a vertical mill wasn’t a difficult task, and subsequently the price per part was getting lower and lower because of over saturation of shops with that same ability. So he moved the shop to a larger facility and began adding equipment with more capabilities. “As a small shop, versatility is important because you don’t know what is coming in the door next,” explains Danny, “I made an investment in a 5 axis Mazak Vari-Axis 630 and that opened up a lot of doors for us as a company. The 630 is a medium size machine that lets us run a variety of parts on it.” DP Products found their niche in tight tolerance, high-end 5 axis parts machined from exotic materials like Molybdenum, Invar, Super Invar and Kovar. “Simple or basic parts for us are boring to manufacture,” touts Danny. “The pressure is always on in this industry and high complexity really wakes us up and keeps us sharp. We do a lot of prototype work here. Not many shops can make money doing that, but we are really good at it. I have trained the majority of my programmers and machinists and they are the best at what they do. We manufacture parts that require more than pressing the button and walking away, they require skill and focus above the average machinist’s abilities. If you come to work at DP one of two things will happen. I will either break you, or you will become a star with the talents to get a job anywhere you want in the world.”

DP Products is ISO9000 certified and working towards their AS certification. Most of what they do falls under the label of aerospace and medical but microwave, semi-conductors, and satellite parts also find their way into production. “Complex parts are what we are good at regardless of the industry,” describes Danny. “Providing my employees with the best tools to do their job is a big reason for our success.” Everything from the NX software and Mazak machining centers down to the Mitutoyo CMM with the Renishaw PH20 head are all calculated purchases to streamline the operation and deliver the best possible products.

“Mazaks are the finest piece of equipment out there for my money,” tells Danny. “They offer mills, lathes, 5-axis, large and small. Most of the other sales companies have to rep different brands to be able to cover all the bases. Mazak has everything we need. Uniformity is a big deal in a shop this size, and an employee not having to learn 10 different controls is a big plus.” According to Danny, “Cutting down on variables leads to fewer problems on the shop floor and in QC.” Mazak has always offered him great service and support. “We are a turnkey shop with multiple machines such as Mazaks, a couple Haas machines, a Matsuura, a few Fadals, grinding machines, and a brand new Sodick wire EDM.”

One of the latest purchases made by DP Products is a Mitutoyo CMM Crysta Apex EX with a Renishaw PH20 5-axis head on it. “We were looking into getting a new CMM for a long time,” tells Danny. “I had my QC manager, Ryan Osuna, do a lot of research on the various different brands and we chose the Mitutoyo. One of the good things about Ryan is that he is one of those gamer guys that just eats up any technology I throw at him. He took to the new machine and CMM Manager Software very quickly and didn’t miss a beat.”

“I like the Mitutoyo machine a lot for its simplicity of use,” describes Ryan. “But the primary reason we selected it was because of the Renishaw PH20 head. It cuts down two-thirds of the time and is the real super star of the package.” The Mitutoyo was custom built for DP Products in Japan where the PH20 head and CMM Manager Software were added, fit into place, calibrated and tested before being shipped to San Jose and installed in the quality lab. “For accuracy I give it an A,” continues Ryan. “Over the length of the work envelope it is accurate in X, Y and Z within three tenths. I see it repeat within a tenth on any angles I’m running.”

Unlike conventional CMM measurement methods, Renishaw’s 5-axis technology uses synchronized motion of the CMM and the head axes to minimize machine’s dynamic errors at ultra‑high measuring speeds. It is the same technology used on their high end REVO system. On a part with 600+ touch points it saves Ryan an immense amount of time all while adding to the accuracy of his measurements.

Like the Parthenon is dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena, Danny pays tribute to the machining deities through precision and accuracy. “Complex 5-axis parts, exotic materials and close tolerances are where we thrive,” concludes Danny. “We are excellent at perfecting our processes and have excellent equipment and know our game. I work hard to educate my employees to be on top of their game. Meeting bare minimum requirements doesn’t fly here at DP Products. The bottom line is, using up the tolerances on the print are only for a worst case scenario. We are calibrated for us to be on, and we stay on. We like to have perfect, high quality parts and our customers demand it.” Word of mouth has always got DP Products work. With no shortage of manufacturing in the area, it is a true testament to their abilities when customers seek them out for complex and challenging parts.