Happy 40th Birthday, RADAN
One of the world’s most powerful sheet metal CAD/CAM systems is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
RADAN, now part of the Vero Software Group, began life as a verification program created at Bath University.
Kevin O’Connor, RADAN’s Sales and Major Accounts Manager, says the University was approached by a machine tool manufacturer who wanted offline programming software for a sheet metal punch press.
“In those days pre-verification programmers would type the G-code and X and Y co-ordinates, longhand, and it came out as paper tape which would be fed into the machine tool controller. The cutting tool would then move according to the instructions on the paper tape.”
Two senior lecturers at the university, Tony Billett – who was to become RADAN’s Managing Director – and Martin Swainston, devised the software to read the paper tape and simulate the movement that the machine would make, offline. “It’s very primitive compared to RADAN today, but was far in advance of anything else available in 1976. For the first time, it was possible to try a program out on a computer instead of waiting until it was on the machine and cutting metal.”
RADAN has developed into the world leader by staying solely in the sheet metal industry, and creating solutions for specialist niches within that sector. These include Radtube, which drives dedicated tube cutting machines tools as well as the rotary axis on flat bed lasers; and Radm-ax for driving 5-axis lasers. “Both these modules provide an affordable solution to the CNC part programming needs of engineering businesses of all sizes.”
But Kevin O’Connor says today’s customers are looking for much more than just CAD/CAM functionality. “They want something to run the whole of their production process, which may include punch, laser, press brake, costing, and production control.”
That led to the advent of RADAN’s logistics suite, which began with Radimport, and the new Radmanager. Also, Radquote will be released later this year. “Customers asked us for a quoting module to manage their production, and be able to fully integrate with existing MRP systems.”
Looking ahead, Kevin O’Connor believes RADAN’s future lies in two areas: guaranteeing that customers continue to get new state-of-the-art functionality in each of the annual updates, and further development of the logistics products.
“We talk to the machine tool companies to ensure that all our new functionality fits in with their technology, and we hold regular user group meetings where customers tell us what they’d like to see in future releases.”
Now in his 29th year with RADAN, Kevin O’Connor explains why he has stayed loyal to the brand for so long. “A number of employees also have 20 and 25 years service. Not only do we passionately believe in how RADAN helps sheet metal companies take their businesses to the next level, but we already work for the best company doing what it does in the sheet metal industry. What more could we want?”