Delcam is planning a triple launch in the USA for the 2010 version of its FeatureCAM feature-based machining software. The new release will be shown at three exhibitions during the second week of October; South-Tec in Charlotte from 6th to 8th October, the Wisconsin Machine Tool Show in Milwaukee on the same dates, and the North Texas MTS in Dallas on 7th and 8th. Enhancements will be demonstrated across the full range of FeatureCAM functionality, from 2D drilling and wire EDM, to five-axis milling and mill-turn operations.
"FeatureCAM was the world’s first feature-based programming system when it was introduced in 1995,” claimed Development Director Tom McCollough. "More recently, other CAM developers have tried to copy our automated approach to programming. However, with our longer history and larger R&D investment, we believe that FeatureCAM still maintains its clear leadership in knowledge-based machining.”
FeatureCAM’s high degree of automation already gives faster programming than other CAM systems. A range of enhancements in the 2010 version will make the software even quicker. Most important of these developments is support for multi-threading when generating 3D toolpaths. This allows calculations to be spread across multiple cores in dual- or quad-core computers. Average time savings are around 25% on a dual-core PC.
Improved algorithms have been introduced within the user interface to speed up the editing of features and to reduce the time needed to switch between machine-tool set-ups, while more efficient handling of stock models will reduce the memory required and so enhance performance still further.
The most innovative new programming option is combined drilling and milling functionality that will allow more efficient hole creation on machines fitted with automatic tool changing. It generates roughing and finishing toolpaths to produce any holes for which the appropriate drill is not loaded, using the existing tooling within the machine’s crib.
The new option is much faster than having to change the tooling available to match the set of hole sizes in each job, especially for companies manufacturing prototypes or short-run components. It will allow complex parts to be produced more easily in cases where the range of hole sizes is larger than the number of positions in the crib. In addition, the number of different tools that need to be stocked can be reduced and it will be much simpler to move jobs between different machine tools.
Companies that do not have automatic tool changing on their machines can also benefit. In some cases, it will be possible to use a combination of drilling and milling with a single cutter to generate all the holes in the part. This could then allow the complete sequence to be run without the machine needing to be manned.
Other new options include a new spiral finishing option that gives faster machining and improved surface finish with no dwell marks, and automatic rest roughing to minimise air cutting when applying a series of progressively-smaller roughing cutters. In addition, a 3D chamfer can be added to a part, even when this is not shown in the model, for de-burring and similar clean-up operations.
Two improvements have been duplicated from PowerMILL to give faster machining and better surface finish. FeatureCAM now has the same ability to redistribute the points within any toolpath to enable faster, smoother machining. Similarly, the program can now undertake tool-axis smoothing to avoid sudden changes in orientation of the cutter during five-axis machining.
Machining simulation has also been made faster and more accurate, in particular for simultaneous five-axis machining. In addition, a new dual-view option allows a part to be viewed from two-different angles simultaneously. This will be most helpful when simulating the production of large or complex parts.
The range of post-processors available with FeatureCAM has been further extended for both five-axis and mill-turn equipment. New machines now supported include the DMG CTX and GMX, Doosan Puma MX and TT, Mazak Integrex ST, Nakamura NTX and NTJX, and Okuma Macturn.
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