CAD/CAM Machining Software: The Latest Trends and Advances
Nothing is changing faster or more profoundly than the software used to design and machine parts. To help shops keep up with the latest competitive advances being introduced on the shop floor, here is a report on some of the newest CAD/CAM software.
Faster multicore and embedded processors are combining with cloud-based innovations to increase the capabilities and expand the boundaries of CAD/CAM software far beyond the origins of its traditional work envelope. Shops are hard pressed to keep up with all of the competitive advances in machining alone, where each day introduces a new toolpath creation, a new simulation of multitask machining on a part, a new program that performs more simultaneous operations than ever before in one machine setup – all accessible and monitored from anywhere through new mobile applications.
In quality assurance, CAD/CAM is moving deeper into the footprint of part inspection and surface finish measurement. In part design, CAD/CAM integrates FEA capabilities to test and predict how certain materials machined on a prototype will perform before anything is actually built. To help shops stay informed and maintain their edge in machining capabilities, here are some of the latest advances in CAD/CAM applications.
END-TO-END SEAMLESS INTEGRATION
Geometric Americas Inc. (Scottsdale, AZ) offers their CAMWorks® 2014 intuitive solids-based CNC programming solution. With the addition of true G-code simulation, CAMWorks is the most complete fully integrated end-to-end CAD/CAM solution, from the initial part design to creating a CNC program to full machine simulation. This reduces data redundancy and saves valuable shop floor time (see Figure 1).
Demonstration of how CAMWorks 2014 Makes Significant Progress On Using WIP STL Models.
Along with support for SolidWorks® 2014, CAMWorks 2014 accelerates design-to-part time by improving the productivity of CNC programmers with the addition of a number of enhancements, including:
Turn feature definition enhancement: Turn profiles are now fully associated with the model they are extracted from, making them fully associative to the sketches. This first in the feature-based machining world makes program changes very quick and efficient. Particularly beneficial in mill-turn operations is the selection of turn profiles by specifying the angle at which the profile has to be extracted.
Increased automation in CNC programming: Adding 39 APIs to the current suite helps reduce repetitive activities and provides a solid foundation for shops that want to customize or automate their systems to accelerate CNC programming output.
Sub-spindle operations simplified: The addition of more pre-programmed routines that are configurable to the shop’s need increases flexibility in the sub-spindle operations.
CAMWorks introduces a free iPad app for mobility-inclined users of the CAMWorksView App for iPad/iPhone/iPod that views, reviews and annotates 3D WIP models and assemblies, tool paths and relevant operation data on the go, anywhere from the shop floor to the design room, without the need of an additional CAMWorks license.
CAMWorks 2014 provides certified Mori-APT CL code to drive DMG Mori (Hoffman Estates, IL) NMV Series, NH(X) Series, NV(X) Series, NL(X) Series and NT Series of mill, turn, and mill-turn machines using the Manufacturing Suite Post Processor that eliminates the need for custom post-processors. Shops must get Manufacturing Suite from DMG Mori, while the Mori-APT CL output add-in is available from Geometric, which has also enhanced its video instructions set that serves as a useful reference guide for self-paced learning to supplement the training needs.
MACHINE SIMULATION AND OPTIMIZATION
CGTech (Irvine, CA) now ships version 7.3 of their VERICUT® CNC machine simulation and optimization software that meet the needs of all types of shops – from the small job shop with simple parts to the OEM and Tier 1 supplier that is regularly pushing the limits of CNC technology. VERICUT is CNC machine simulation, verification and optimization software that eliminates the process of manually proving out NC programs (see Figure 2).
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An overview of the new features of the latest CNC simulation, verification and optimization software features in VERICUT 7.3.
It reduces scrap loss and rework and optimizes NC programs to save time and produce higher quality surface finishes by simulating DMG Mori, Mazak, Makino, Matsuura, Hermle, DIXI, Chiron and other CNC machine tools. The software runs standalone but can be integrated with Catia, NX, Creo Parametric, MasterCAM, PowerMill, EdgeCAM, hyperMILL, Esprit, GibbsCAM, and Surfcam CAM systems.
The 7.3 user interface is very customizable. A user will notice all-new icons, available in multiple sizes. There are several user-selectable color themes. Every window and icon can be optionally displayed or hidden. User-configurable “Favorites” further simplify setting up a simulation session. “Favorites” can consist of commonly used folders and files, and each item can be drag/dropped into a project. To help objects stand out in the machine simulation scene, an “Edge Display” option analyzes models on-the-fly and finds and displays their edges, all without affecting simulation speed.