Finland’s former prime minister chooses SURFCAM production software for machining hobby

Not every top politician fills their time after leaving high office with the speech circuit. Finland’s former prime minister, Juha Sipilä, took a very different tack and bought a new 4-axis CNC machine tool and Hexagon’s SURFCAM CAD/CAM software to mill his designs for objects around the home.

Juha Sipilä, who was the Finnish prime minister from 2015-2019 and remains an MP, was an industrialist before entering politics and his ownership of several manufacturing companies gave him his first taste for machining. He has produced multiple items over the years, including gavels, engraved pieces for a meeting of his political party and aluminium parts for a wood gas powered car.

Even as Prime Minister of Finland, Juha Sipilä liked to relax and resolve abstract problems by designing and milling objects in aluminium, brass, plastic and wood. His work includes gifts for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, and the Swedish and Estonian Prime Ministers.

Returning recently to life as an MP has freed up more time, so he decided to upgrade his Roland milling machine, as well as the CNC router and production software.

He was helped in his choice by Vesa Sirén from Rensi Finland Oy, the distributor of Hexagon’s SURFCAM software in Finland, who provided Juha Sipilä with his first CNC machine for his garage in 2005. The new model is a larger 1.5m x 300 mm rotary table 4-axis simultaneous machine. Juha Sipilä also invested in the powerful and fast SURFCAM CAD/CAM system from Hexagon’s production software portfolio and acquired a new 4-axis router at his second home, in Southern Finland.

SURFCAM software from Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division is now an integral part of Juha Sipilä’s production processes. Typically, he creates a 3D model in SURFCAM Designer and exports it into SURFCAM Traditional for producing fast, accurate toolpaths. He is particularly impressed with its game-changing Waveform Roughing strategy for milling aluminium and brass. The CNC machine tool has a spindle speed of 24,000 rpms, so Waveform means he can have light cutting with fast feed rates.

Vesa Sirén explains: “A number of Mr Sipilä’s items are metal assemblies, so it’s vital that the components fit together perfectly. He knows that with SURFCAM, each component coming off the CNC machine will be right first time, every time.”

The new software has even made it simple for Juha Sipilä to share ideas for improvements to his neighbourhood.

When the Finnish Parliament sits, Juha Sipilä lives at Sipoo, near Helsinki, in one of 20 houses that share a common pier for their boats. When it came to looking at new railings along the pier, he drew up his suggested design using SURFCAM and was able to share it easily with his neighbours using SURFCAM’s intuitive and highly visual interface.

Vesa Sirén says: “Mr Sipilä had been looking for a more flexible design and CAM system, so SURFCAM Traditional was ideal for him. And he knew from experience that we, as the Finnish distributor, have provided SURFCAM to more than 1,000 companies and can give full service, knowledge, support and training.”

Juha Sipilä has already undergone initial training on SURFCAM Designer and basic 2- and 3-axis machining and will complete training on 4- and 5-axis toolpaths later in the year.

“SURFCAM Designer gives him the flexibility to quickly and easily modify and edit his designs; and SURFCAM’s 5-axis module offers true simultaneous 4- and 5-axis machining with full tool motion visualisation and verification,” explains Vesa Sirén. “Precise control is achieved over every aspect of multi-axis machining, ensuring safe tool motion for even the most challenging applications. The 4- and 5-axis system provides support for all standard tools with collision checking, gouge avoidance, and toolpath containment. This is perfect to give him the freedom to fully express himself in wood on his new 2.5m x 1.3m 4-axis machine.”

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