Delcam will demonstrate the latest versions of its PowerSHAPE CAD software for tooling design and its PowerMILL CAM system for high-speed and five-axis machining at the Euromold exhibition to be held in Frankfurt from 29th November to 2nd December. Both new programs will allow toolmakers and subcontractors to deliver high-quality components in shorter lead times and so help them to win more business
The main addition to the 2012 release of PowerSHAPE is a range of direct modelling options. Unlike other programs that have incorporated direct modelling as part of a product design system, the PowerSHAPE options are focussed on design for manufacture, in particular on preparing product designs for the development of tooling.
The new functionality will enable tooling designers to tackle all the common problems that they find in product designs, such as insufficient draft or inappropriate fillet sizes. For these adjustments, it is often faster to use direct modelling than surface modelling so the new options can shorten the overall time needed to produce the tools.
Another direct modelling command makes it easy to modify the thickness of any feature within the design. This can be used to adjust the thickness of items like reinforcing ribs to aid material flow, to add machining allowances before manufacturing, for example when adding material to the split surfaces of a mould, or to offset surfaces to create electrode designs from tooling designs.
PowerSHAPE 2012 has the ability to identify features within "dumb” geometry, including holes, pockets, cuts and bosses. Intelligent manufacturing information can be added to the features and passed to PowerMILL. For example, information on the sizes and types of holes can be used for automated generation of drilling programs. These features can be suppressed within the model so that, for example, holes in a surface can be ignored by the machining program until they need to be drilled.
Together with the extensive data translation and data repair options already available in PowerSHAPE, the addition of direct modelling gives a unique range of capabilities to tooling designers, whether they are working with moulds, press tools or die-casting equipment.
The 2012 version of PowerMILL CAM system includes a number of new strategies, together with more general enhancements to make programming faster and machining more efficient with the best-possible surface finish.
The most important new option is flowline machining. With flowline machining, the toolpath is divided between a pair of drive curves in a constant number of passes, rather than having a varying number of passes with a constant stepover. The toolpath will have its start and end passes on the drive curves, with the intermediate passes blending between them.
This approach gives smoother results since it ensures that each pass travels over the full length of the area, rather than leaving the part or making major changes in direction during the pass. It produces a better surface finish on the part and minimises wear on the cutter and the machine tool.
Another important new option in PowerMILL 2012 is the ability to control the angular point distribution during five-axis machining. This option can be used to keep the machine tool moving smoothly when there is rapid angular change in one of the rotary axes of the machine tool.
A more general enhancement is the ability to use Bezier curves rather than polylines when sketching geometry in PowerMILL. Bezier curves give smoother boundaries, patterns and drive curves, and so enable better quality toolpaths to be produced.
Other enhancements in PowerMILL 2012 include more control over the clearance distances applied to the cutter and its holder. This is especially desirable when machining near-vertical faces, as a smaller clearance can be set for the shank, while still allowing a larger clearance for the holder. It allows the shortest safe cutter to be chosen, with no risk of collisions. Using shorter cutters will usually allow faster machining and minimise chatter so giving a better surface finish.
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