Feb 9, 2010

Delcam to launch 64-bit PowerMILL at Industrie

Delcam will launch the 64-bit version of its award-winning PowerMILL CAM software at the Industrie exhibition to be held in Paris from 22nd to 26th March. 64-bit technology removes the memory limitations of 32-bit computers so allowing more efficient toolpath generation, especially for companies that are machining large or complex parts.

The new 2010 release also improves user productivity by further extending the use of the latest background-processing and multi-threading technologies that is available in recent hardware. The combination of these two developments is estimated to reduce toolpath calculation times by up to 25%, although this will depend on the size and complexity of the part.

PowerMILL 2010 also includes more than 50 other major enhancements. This is the largest number in a single release for over five years. It reflects the continued high levels of investment in product development at Delcam, the home of the biggest software development team in the CAM industry. These improvements all contribute towards even faster and easier generation of highly-efficient toolpaths for three- through five-axis milling.

The most obvious change for existing users will be the updating of all the toolpath-creation forms to a new and improved layout. The forms make it easier for new users to find the commands they need, while also giving experienced operators more logical access to the more advanced options. In addition, there is new toolbar that can be pinned to the opening screen for the creation and editing of workplanes.

A new series of strategies for roughing and finishing corners has been added. These give more efficient and smoother clearance of these areas, especially when a large tool has been used for roughing initially that has left a significant amount of material in the corner.

Rest roughing has been enhanced to give better control over the start points for each segment of the toolpath. This will give substantial savings in overall machining time by minimising any air cutting.

Offset roughing, a popular approach for high-speed machining, has been enhanced so any thin slivers of material can be removed without risking damage to the cutter. These slivers can be left for the final pass when a constant stepover is used for the offset. PowerMILL will now identify these potential problems automatically and adjust the final stepover to give the safest engagement with the material.

A number of improvements have been made to give smoother toolpaths for semi-finishing and finishing. These minimise the stresses put on the cutter and machine tool, and result in a better surface finish. They are related to Delcam’s patented Race-Line strategies for roughing and act in a similar way across the full extent of the toolpath. For example, sharp changes in direction in 3D-offset toolpaths are now automatically made much smoother as the tool approaches and leaves, rather than simply introducing an arc at the point of change.

In a related development, more options have been added to the collision avoidance functionality to give more control over the direction chosen by the software to avoid the problem. These are particularly useful in any areas where there might be a sudden change in direction. In addition, the ability to specify a look-ahead distance has been added to the collision avoidance capability to ensure a smooth transition when tool-axis changes are required.

Constant-Z toolpaths have been enhanced to include automatic detection of flat areas that would benefit from an alternative strategy. In addition, a filter has been added to remove small enclosed segments from the toolpath as these can damage the cutter. The "Steep and Shallow” machining combination strategy uses these latest additions for the steep sections and a range of new options have been added for the shallow areas.

Finally, a new option has been added for all toolpaths that specifies the safe profile of the toolholder. This provides a warning if the toolholder shape extends outside this area in ways that may cause a gouge or collision.