Feb 23, 2010

Delcam adds Parasolid to Toolmaker tooling design software

The addition of Parasolid to Delcam Toolmaker gives faster 3D mould design.

Following the recent launch of the first version of its PowerSHAPE CAD system incorporating Parasolid® software, Delcam has introduced the 2010 release of its Toolmaker tooling design software, which also incorporates Parasolid. The short delay has been necessary to allow the conversion of the extensive range of standard components within Toolmaker into the Parasolid format. Toolmaker incorporates catalogues from all the leading mould components suppliers in Europe, Asia and America, totalling many thousand standard parts.

The integration of Parasolid, the industry’s leading 3D geometric modelling component from Siemens PLM Software, reinforces the solid modelling and assembly modelling capabilities of Toolmaker, and so complements the unrivalled surface modelling capabilities developed by Delcam over more than 30 years. The combination of the two technologies provides an unrivalled range of benefits for toolmakers, especially those that use imported product design data as the basis for their tooling designs. In this first implementation, the key benefits are:

* import and export of Parasolid models in XT file format, without translation;
* comprehensive tools to create valid Parasolid models from data imported from systems that operate at lower precision than Parasolid;
* broad range of options to analyse product designs and high-speed editing tools to optimise models for manufacture;
* automated core and cavity creation;
* fast and robust assembly modelling to build up the mould stack;
* rapid, reliable creation of GA and other drawings.

The ability to work effectively with imported data is greatly enhanced by the addition of Parasolid. Models in the Parasolid native XT file format can be imported directly from CAD systems based on Parasolid such as SolidWorks, Siemens PLM Software’s Solid Edge® software and NXTM software and also from many other systems, including Autodesk’s Inventor and PTC’s Pro/Engineer, that have Parasolid XT import/export filters.

In addition, users will be able to tackle all the common problems that can be found when translating low precision and incomplete data, including gaps and overlaps between surfaces, or duplicated and missing surfaces, and generate a valid, high-precision Parasolid model. This process uses the automatic data repair tools that are provided as part of Parasolid, together with the surface creation and editing options that are available from PowerSHAPE. This combination means that simple repairs can be carried out quickly and easily, while more complex problems can be overcome by deleting and replacing the existing surfaces within the model.

Toolmaker also includes a wide range of analysis tools to check the manufacturability of the design. These include curvature analysis to check that fillet radii are large enough to allow easy material flow in the tool, draft angle analysis to ensure that parts can be removed successfully or to identify where slides will be needed, and model thickness analysis to help in the selection of gating positions and in highlighting potential sink-mark problems.

The addition of Parasolid will also enhance Delcam’s unique Power Features technology. Components that contain Power Features react automatically as they are placed within the tool assembly, adding all the necessary fit-features to the connecting components. As each part is added, the tolerances between the various components are also defined automatically. This automatic creation of relationships makes the development of the overall design much quicker and also makes errors in the design process far less likely.

Of course, Power Features maintain relationships in a similar way to parametric objects in other CAD systems so that, for example, if an ejector pin moves, all the associated holes move with it. However, the degree of associativity is more flexible, such that all component dimensions, tolerances and positions can be modified either individually, as part of a group of similar components, or by using a global edit for multiple groups of components.

The incorporation of Parasolid also speeds up and simplifies to development of more complex tooling assemblies. It is much easier to create solid models of any non-standard components and to define their relationships with the other components. Toolmaker will highlight suitable attachment points under the cursor. The user simply clicks the attachment points on a pair of components and they will move into position. A second click will preserve the relationship or another attachment point can be selected for an alternative relationship.

Furthermore, all identical parts within an assembly are automatically recognised as instances of the same component so preventing unnecessary duplication of data. This reduces overall model sizes and makes regeneration of the complete tool much faster after any design changes.

As well as re-creating all the standard catalogues, Delcam has made it easier for users to create and manage their own catalogues. Toolmaker has allowed customers to group their commonly-used components into their own custom catalogues for several versions. Users can now both save custom dimensions for non-standard parts as Parasolid files and add Parasolid components that they have modelled themselves, or that they have downloaded, to custom catalogues.

Toolmaker already incorporated automated methods to generate the General Assembly and all the component drawings required for manufacturing and inspection. With the incorporation of Parasolid, hidden-line removal has been made faster and more reliable, while the time needed to produce a complete set of drawings for even a complex mould should now be no longer than a day. This compares with the two or three weeks that are typically needed with traditional drawing methods.