Delcam

Delcam (145)

Thursday, 05 November 2015 14:41

Delcam Announces 2015 R2 Version of ArtCAM Pro

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The 2015 R2 version of Delcam’s ArtCAM Pro artistic CADCAM software features improvements in design and machining, including the ability to create support structures for 3D Printing, easier designing with vectors, more design options with real-time updating and faster machining simulations.

Unlike most other CADCAM systems, ArtCAM Pro is aimed at skilled artisans rather than engineers and requires much less knowledge of engineering or computing.  It has been particularly successful in the signmaking, woodworking and engraving industries.  In these areas and in other artistic applications, ArtCAM Pro allows users to increase productivity, improve quality and deliver new designs more quickly, by combining their craft skills and creativity with the power and precision of computer-aided manufacturing.

The main enhancement for the new version of ArtCAM Pro is the ability to create support structures for 3D Printing.  Users can generate intelligent support structures, either manually or automatically, and can also use batch assembly for the printing of multiple items.  3D Printing offers ArtCAM users an alternative route to machining for the production of complex models.

ArtCAM users that design with vectors will benefit from two new options.  Firstly, snap hints now appear to help in locating hard-to-find snap points within vectors when creating designs.  Secondly, the thickness of vectors can be changed, in either the 2D or 3D view, making it easier to visualise the design.

Accuracy will also be helped by the addition of rulers in the 3D view to make it easier to create precise artwork and to position elements of the piece.

The ability to overlap and intersect reliefs has been enhanced with a new option to interactively blend the reliefs.  This allows relief clipart to be pulled up or pushed down in the Z axis to give a better blend with another 3D design.

The range of modelling tools that operate in real time has been extended to include the ability to create smooth domed shapes or domes with a centreline ridge, and the option to make intricate weaves.  Real-time operation makes it easier to create exactly the effect that is required and shortens design times.

The tools for assembly modelling have been improved by making it easier and quicker to drag or rotate elements of the assembly into position.  It has also been made simpler to undo any changes.

The creation of complex designs by grouping relief layers together has also been made easier.  For example, it is easier to combine the front and back of a miniature or a sculpture.  In addition, relief slicing can now output the slices as DXF files, making laser cutting of tall items easier.

The main machining enhancement in the new release is significantly faster machining simulations thanks to a new algorithm that uses the specialist processor in modern graphics cards to calculate multiple operations simultaneously.  This gives major benefits over standard multi-threading.

Another area of improvement is corner machining, where fillets can be added to vectors to allow more accurate machining of slots.  In a related development, loops can be added for creating corners with knife cutting.

Finally, two new options are available in the 3D offset strategy.  Firstly, it is now possible to spiral from the outside in or from the centre outwards.  The strategy can reduce tool wear and give better surface finish.  Secondly, on-surface links can be used.  This reduces the number of plunge and retract moves and so saves machining time.

For more information, visit: www.artcam.com/pro

Monday, 26 January 2015 14:45

Delcam Releases PowerMILL 2015 R2

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Delcam has released the 2015 R2 version of its PowerMILL programming software for five-axis and high-speed machining.  The new release includes improvements in toolpath simulation and verification, area clearance and drilling, plus more options for customisation by users.

In the 2015 R2 release, complete verification can be undertaken of a project for machine-tool issues such as collisions, rather than having to undertake verification of each individual toolpath in turn.  Comprehensive verification is performed, including ensuring that the machine tool is capable of running the proposed strategy, as well as checking for both machine-tool collisions and tooling collisions.  A detailed list is generated of any problems found so that these can be fixed on a case-by-case basis.

In related improvement, automatic collision checking of area-clearance toolpaths now takes into account any remaining stock on a model, both when checking the cutter and the tool-holder.  In addition, all tool-holder collision checking for area clearance takes place during toolpath calculation, allowing the user to ensure that these toolpaths can be completely free of tool-holder collisions.

Simulation has also been improved with the addition of the ability to simulate machine-tool movements as tool changes are executed.  Again, a list of any problems found is produced so they can be corrected.

Two enhancements have been made to the drilling options in PowerMILL.  Firstly, drilling calculations can now reference a stock model instead of the block, with toolpaths created from the point when the tool touches the stock.  This reduces the time spent air cutting.  Secondly, drills larger that the milling tool can be used when using drilling to create an entry point for area clearance.  Alternatively, a larger entry hole can be created by helical ramping of the tool.

The options for user customisation have been increased steadily over the last few releases of PowerMILL.  These now include the ability to create keyboard shortcuts for menu items, toolbar items, custom commands or macros, allowing frequently-used commands to be accessed more quickly.  Another new option allows expression fields to be added to custom toolbars.

For more information, visit: www.delcam.tv/pm2015/lz

Monday, 29 December 2014 15:51

Delcam Releases PartMaker 2015

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Delcam has released the latest version of its PartMaker Software for programming CNC Mills, Lathes, Wire EDMs, Turn-Mill Centers and Swiss-type lathes, PartMaker Version 2015.  Major highlights of PartMaker Version 2015 include improved support for today’s latest breed of multi-tasking machine tools, such as Vertical Mill-Turns, more powerful milling and turning functionality, and a unique approach to post processing for multi-axis Turn-Mill Centers and Swiss-type lathes among other productivity enhancements.

“The innovations in PartMaker Version 2015 include a unique blend of productivity enhancements that both new and existing users of the software are going to love along with a host of utterly unique and innovative technology you just won’t find anywhere else,” says PartMaker Inc. President, Hanan Fishman.  “PartMaker 2015 extends support of the product’s patented approach to programming multi-tasking machine tools to support today’s latest breed of multi-function machines, allowing our customers to stay on the leading edge of multi-tasking.”

PartMaker 2015 includes specialist support for a new breed of machine tools that has been growing steadily in popularity in recent years called Vertical Mill-Turns (VMT).  These machine tools are unique because they provide the turning functionality typically found on a VTL (Vertical Turret Lathe) with that of a 5-axis VMC (Vertical Machining Center).  PartMaker 2015 also offers support for turret-based Swiss lathes with programmable B-axis live tooling attachments as well as more intuitive handing of angled live tooling attachments.

Also headlining PartMaker Version 2015 is a unique approach to post processing for multi-tasking machine tools.  This new approach includes a variety of improvements to the software’s post processing technology and new software functionality to help guide users on how to best take advantage of their specific multi-tasking machine tool’s unique capabilities.

PartMaker is a Knowledge Based Machining system, allowing it to provide a substantial gain in programming efficiency by remembering the tools, material and process information necessary to machine individual part features.  It thus relieves the user from reentering the same features information for subsequent parts.  It also improves productivity by placing the emphasis on tool management functions.

PartMaker pioneered the field of CAM software for Turn-Mills and Swiss-type lathes with its patented Visual Programming Approach for programming multi-axis lathes with live tooling. It assures quicker learning and easier use. It makes an extensive use of pictures to help the user describe tools, part features and machining data.  Synchronization of tools working on multiple spindles is achieved by a few mouse clicks.

PartMaker Inc. is a subsidiary of Delcam, a leading developer and supplier of complete CAD/CAM software solutions.  Delcam is a wholly-owned, independently-operated subsidiary of Autodesk.

For more information, visit: www.delcam.tv/pmk2015/lz/en/index.asp

Delcam has launched the 2015 version of its Delcam for SolidWorks integrated CAM system.  The new release includes a range of enhancements in three-axis milling, drilling, turning and wire EDM to make the software even more valuable to SolidWorks users that need to manufacture their designs.

Programming of three-axis toolpaths for complex parts has been made easier and more reliable in Delcam for SolidWorks 2015 with the addition of automatic collision checking of the tool shank and holder, as well as the cutter, for both roughing and finishing operations.  If a gouge is detected the toolpath can be recalculated with any segments that will cause a gouge clipped away.

Removing these segments of the toolpath leaves an area of unmachined stock that will need to be removed with a longer tool.  This extra toolpath is able to be calculated using a stock model of material remaining after the shorter tool has been used to ensure there is no re-machining of stock that has already been removed.

As part of this development, an additional function, called ‘maximum machine stock’, has been added that removes direct moves where clipping has occurred.  These direct moves can leave witness marks on the part so their removal should improve surface finish.

Another improvement in three-axis machining with Delcam for SolidWorks 2015 allows stock models to be used in conjunction with other geometry, such as the part surface dimensions, solid models, the stock dimensions and boundary curves.  This addition gives better control over the area to be machined by each toolpath and so gives more efficient machining by allowing the user to confine toolpaths to specific regions and to eliminate air-cutting by referencing the stock model.

Three-axis flowline and isoline machining is now more flexible, with users able to choose to move the tool in an in-to-out direction or an out-to-in direction.

Drilling with Delcam for SolidWorks has been made easier in the new release with the introduction of a new hole type, ‘Thread Mill Hole’, which eliminates the need to create holes, pockets or sides, and thread features as separate items.  It can be used either with holes created with the ‘Hole’ feature or those that have been identified with ‘Feature Recognition’.

Another improvement to drilling is the new ‘Find Feature’ command that gives the ability to combine similar holes into groups on indexed parts.  With previous releases, users had to have a separate feature for each hole but, in Delcam for SolidWorks 2015, holes that are similar can be recognised and then grouped together.  This makes them much easier to manage and edit.

A series of improvements have been introduced to make turning with Delcam for SolidWorks more efficient.  The software is now able to produce toolpaths that rapid up and over previously machined diameters, rather than feeding along them.  This reduces the overall cycle time and avoids dragging of the tool.

For users of wire EDM, Delcam for SolidWorks 2015 provides an expanded wire-cut database to support multiple machines having varying formats and methods of operation, with the ability to specify nozzle type and fluid type as well as material type and thickness, wire type and diameter, and EDM machine.  This gives more flexibility by providing the option to store and apply a greater variety of different parameters.

Wire EDM assemblies with multiple setups are now able to be output in a single program separated by Program Stops, with NC code required for a safe Program Stop formatted in a special section of the post processor.  This increases programming flexibility greatly for Wire EDM users, allowing them to manage their parts on the machine more safely.

A key benefit of Delcam for SolidWorks has always been the availability of a wide range of post-processors, together with the ability for users to customise their posts.  In the 2015 version, post variables are able to be assigned user-defined names.  This allows users to see quickly exactly which post variables are configured for use with a particular post-processor and to understand their intended use.  This change is particularly valuable when programmers need to understand customisations in posts that have been made by other users.

Delcam for SolidWorks combines the benefits associated with Delcam’s PowerMILL and FeatureCAM CAM systems.  It is based on Delcam’s proven machining algorithms that are already used by more than 45,000 customers around the world.  The software offers PowerMILL’s exceptional speed of toolpath calculation, plus the advanced strategies for high-speed and five-axis machining, to ensure increased productivity, maximum tool life and immaculate surface finish, even when cutting the hardest, most challenging materials.  At the same time, Delcam for SolidWorks has the same strong focus on ease of use as FeatureCAM, including all of the knowledge-based automation that makes that system so consistent and reliable.

Delcam for SolidWorks is fully integrated into the SolidWorks environment so that the program looks and behaves like SolidWorks.  It offers full associativity so that any changes in the CAD model are reflected automatically in the toolpaths.  However, this associativity is more intelligent than that offered in many other integrated CAM systems.  Delcam for SolidWorks doesn’t simply modify the existing toolpaths but also reviews the choice of cutting tools and machining strategies, and changes them if necessary.

For more information, visit: www.delcamforsolidworks.com

Shareholders in Delcam, one of the world’s leading suppliers of advanced software for manufacturing industry, today voted to accept the offer made by Autodesk to acquire the company.  The acquisition is expected to be completed during February.

Headquartered in Birmingham, UK, Delcam has more than 30 offices worldwide and over 700 employees.  The company’s range of design, manufacturing and inspection software provides automated CADCAM solutions for a variety of industries, ranging from automotive and aerospace to footwear and healthcare.

The latest NC Software Market Analysis Report from leading US analysts CIMdata showed that, in 2012, Delcam again had the highest vendor revenues and received the highest end-user payments of all the CAM-centric companies.  This result meant that the company completed thirteen years as the world’s leading specialist supplier of CAM software and services.

Autodesk and Delcam offer complementary ranges of software, with Autodesk’s programs for design, engineering and entertainment able to be combined with Delcam strengths in manufacturing.

On completion of the acquisition, Delcam will become a subsidiary of Autodesk.  It will maintain its focus on accelerating the growth of its market share in the manufacturing sector, with the added strength that will come from being part of a larger organisation.  Delcam customers will continue to be supported by the skilled and experienced engineers for which the company is renowned through its global network of Subsidiaries, Joint Ventures and Sales Partners.

For more information, visit: www.delcam.com

Thursday, 20 June 2013 09:24

Delcam launches Free CAM for SolidWorks

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Delcam has launched a free version of its Gold-Certified Delcam for SolidWorks integrated CAM system for SolidWorks. Delcam for SolidWorks XPRESS provides the essential 2D milling and drilling functionality available in Delcam for SolidWorks.

Delcam for SolidWorks XPRESS is intended mainly as an introductory level program for users that are new to computer-aided machining. However, it will also be useful for companies, such as design studios, that only need to program simpler CNC machines or those that wish to experiment with 2D  machining before investing in a full 3D software package.

Users will be able to generate NC code for feature-rich 2D parts quickly and easily with the unique ‘feature-from-feature’ technology inside Delcam for SolidWorks. The software is, of course, fully compatible with the latest version of SolidWorks.

Delcam for SolidWorks XPRESS is fully integrated into the SolidWorks environment, in exactly the same way as the full Delcam for SolidWorks software, so that the program looks and behaves like SolidWorks. Similarly, it offers the same full associativity with SolidWorks so that any changes in the CAD model are reflected automatically in the toolpaths.

The XPRESS version provides the same high level of automation as the full program. The software automatically selects the appropriate tooling for the project, allocates the appropriate feeds and speeds to all the toolpaths, and orders the various roughing, semi-finishing and finishing operations into the most efficient sequence.

The drilling options cover all hole types, including tapped holes, and support drilling cycles with sub-programs for the standard controls.

Full 3D simulation of all toolpaths can be undertaken, with comprehensive gouge detection, to check the programs before they are sent to the machine. Time estimates can also be made to compare the results of using different strategies.

The software is supplied with a basic set of post-processors for typical controllers and functionality is provided so that more experienced users can tweak the standard posts to match their machine-tool controls.

Training videos for Delcam for SolidWorks XPRESS are included on the website, as well as on YouTube. A forum for users has also established on the website, so that members are able swap tips on the use of the software.

Delcam for SolidWorks combines the benefits associated with Delcam’s PowerMILL and FeatureCAM CAM systems.  It is based on Delcam’s proven machining algorithms that are already used by more than 40,000 customers around the world.  The software offers PowerMILL’s exceptional speed of toolpath calculation, plus the advanced strategies for high-speed and five-axis machining, to ensure increased productivity, maximum tool life and immaculate surface finish, even when cutting the hardest, most challenging materials.  At the same time, Delcam for SolidWorks has the same strong focus on ease of use as FeatureCAM, including all of the knowledge-based automation that makes that system so consistent and reliable.

For more information, visit: www.delcamforsolidworks.com/xpress

Friday, 08 February 2013 12:05

Free PartMaker Viewer Now Available

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PartMaker Inc., a division of Delcam Plc, has launched a new, free utility called PartMaker Viewer.  PartMaker Viewer allows users to view 2D prints, 3D models and even complete 3D assemblies. One very beneficial feature of PartMaker Viewer is that allows PartMaker users to collaborate with others both in their organization as well as those outside of it who may not have access to PartMaker, free of cost.

With PartMaker Viewer anyone, be it company management, shop floor personnel or even a shop’s customer or other external partners can see the work being done in PartMaker. This can easily be done by just exporting a file from PartMaker's Simulation as an STL and bringing it into PartMaker Viewer. Contract manufacturers and job shops can encourage their customers to download PartMaker Viewer in order to work more collaboratively with them.

“PartMaker Viewer is a great addition to the PartMaker CAD/CAM software suite,” says PartMaker Inc. division President Hanan Fishman.  “With the addition of PartMaker Modeling last year and the recent introduction of the new Advanced Surface Machining module in PartMaker Version 2013, PartMaker is perhaps the most complete suite of production oriented CAD/CAM software on the market today. PartMaker provides a complete production engineering CAD/CAM solution from geometry creation, to engineering data repair and modification to tool path creation to machine simulation to NC code generation.”

PartMaker Viewer is a free utility offered by Delcam. It is not a timed evaluation that will expire.

For more information or to download, visit: www.partmaker.com/viewer

Wednesday, 19 December 2012 10:20

PartMaker 2013 Road Show

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Starting in January 2013, PartMaker Inc., a division of Delcam Plc, will host a nine city, nationwide user group tour to educate customers and prospective PartMaker users on the new technology available in the recently released PartMaker Version 2013. This nationwide tour is titled the “PartMaker 2013 Road Show” where the theme is that attendees should “Forget What You Think You Know About PartMaker!”

The PartMaker 2013 Road Show kicks off in January in Memphis, Tennessee, concluding in May in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Each road show stop is two days in duration.  The first half day of each road show stop will be a more general, theatre style presentation discussing the new technology available in PartMaker 2013. The second day and half of each session will be a more technical, hands training session for attendees who wish to receive training on the new Advanced Surface Machining module in PartMaker Version 2013.

The specific schedule for the PartMaker 2013 Road Show is as follows:

  • January 30 – 31: Memphis, Tennessee
  • February 6 – 7: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • February 12 – 13: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
  • February 27 – 28: Los Angeles, California
  • March 13 – 14: New England (Sturbridge, Massachusetts)
  • March 26 – 27: Rochester, New York
  • April 3 – 4: Chicago, Illinois
  • April 17 – 18: Columbus, Ohio
  • May 8 – 9: Minneapolis, Minnesota

For more information, visit: www.partmaker.com/roadshow2013

Delcam is pleased to announce that cutting-tool supplier, Seco, is to sponsor the company’s first international student CAM competition. The competition, which will be held at Delcam’s Birmingham headquarters next month, will include finalists from universities in China, Korea, Russia and Taiwan.

Each finalist will be asked to program a complex part using Delcam’s PowerMILL software for high-speed and five-axis machining. After programming the part, each student will submit an NC program which will be run on one of the High Speed Machining centres within Delcam’s Advanced Manufacturing Facility using tooling supplied by Seco. The students will be assessed against several criteria including quality of toolpaths, machining time and surface finish.

"Delcam works with universities around the world, helping to train the next generation of engineers for our growing customer base,” said Delcam’s Commercial Director, Bart Simpson. "Many of our international subsidiaries and joint venture partners run competitions for students in their respective countries. However, this is the first occasion on which we have run an international competition. We are pleased that Seco will sponsor this inaugural event and hope to work with the company on future events involving finalists from an increased number of countries.”

For more information, visit: www.delcam.com

The new release of Delcam’s ArtCAM Pro CADCAM software for artistic applications has made it much easier to create complex designs, especially those that include repeated elements that are similar but not identical within the design.

Unlike most other CADCAM systems, ArtCAM Pro is aimed at skilled artisans rather than engineers and requires little knowledge of engineering or computing.  It has been particularly successful in the signmaking, woodworking and engraving industries.  In these areas and in other artistic applications, ArtCAM Pro allows users to increase productivity, improve quality and deliver new designs more quickly, by combining their craft skills and creativity with the power and precision of computer-aided manufacturing.
 
The main addition in the latest release of ArtCAM Pro is a new way of working called ‘Free Relief Modelling’.  This technique allows previously-created reliefs to be selected and then moved, rotated, rescaled and copied, either individually or as part of a group.  Any part of the design can be isolated, edited and then recombined into a group for duplication or further editing within the group.  At any stage in the process, either individual items or a group of items can be saved within ArtCAM Pro’s clipart library for use in future projects.

The overall result is much more natural than simply duplicating a single shape across the design, while also being much quicker than modelling each item individually.  Examples where the technique could be used include creating the feathers in a model of a bird or designing a forest of similar trees without them all appearing identical.

A related development that will also make it easier to create more complex designs allows the interaction between different layers to be viewed in real time.  This will make it much faster to choose the optimum combination of the different layers as the effects of changing the overlap can be seen instantly.

Sketching in ArtCAM Pro has been made easier by giving the designer the freedom to alternate between straight and curved vectors whilst drawing.  Once created, vectors can now be added to or closed, and any nodes within them can be edited or deleted, at any time, either in the 2D or 3D view.

The ability to add textures to designs has always been an important feature within ArtCAM Pro.  This ability has been extended with a new patent-pending ‘Texture Flow’ tool to create more natural organic textures, such as hair, fur and scales.  
    
More natural effects can also be obtained with an addition to the sculpting tools.  Sculpting effects can now be scattered randomly across the design as well as placed systematically.  More control is available over all the sculpting options as these can now be limited to a specific area or to a set height.  Of course, the “undo” option is still available if the results aren’t as expected.

All of these new capabilities can be displayed with even more realistic renders of designs created in ArtCAM Pro.  The software now comes with POV-Ray ray-tracing technology, allowing high-quality images to be generated for customer approval or marketing materials.

For more information, visit: www.artcam.com

Monday, 10 December 2012 11:12

PartMaker 2013 Now Shipping

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PartMaker Version 2013 has officially launched, the latest version of PartMaker Software for programming CNC Mills, Lathes, WireEDM, Turn-Mill Centers and Swiss-type lathes.  Among a number of other enhancements, this new version features a totally revamped surface machining module offering PartMaker users some of the most powerful CAM machining algorithms on the market. PartMaker 2013 also features a restyled, more productive user interface.

 “PartMaker Version 2013 is probably the most significant PartMaker release made in the history of the product” says PartMaker Inc. division President Hanan Fishman.  “With a new ultra-sleek user interface and a host of new, advanced milling strategies, PartMaker Version 2013 offers its users perhaps the most comprehensive and powerful CAM system on the market today for the full spectrum of production machining applications, all while maintaining the software’s hallmark, industry-leading ease of use.”
 
"PartMaker’s new Advanced Surface Machining (ASM) functionality is based on the same technology and algorithms underpinning Delcam’s PowerMILL, the leading CAM system on the market for the manufacture of complex shapes," says Fishman. “The new functionality being offered in PartMaker’s ASM answers the needs of our customers making ever increasingly more complicated parts, particularly for those in the medical device and aerospace arena.”

Restyled User Interface

PartMaker Version 2013 features a sleeker, restyled user interface.  Headlining the improvements in the user interface in PartMaker 2013 is the Job Explorer tree which makes navigating Machining Function Face Windows and Part Features faster.  Additionally, a number of new controls have been added to the software to make working even more intuitive. Also, a number of diagrams in the software have been recast and revamped to give PartMaker 2013 a fresh new look. While the user interface enhancements are numerous, PartMaker 2013 has retained the software’s traditional work flow with its industry leading ease of use so existing users will not have to worry about any relearning, they will just be able to be more productive.

Introducing the Advanced Surface Machining (ASM) Module

The new high-end milling functionality available in PartMaker Version 2013 is known as the Advanced Surface Machining module, or ASM for short.  ASM replaces PartMaker’s Surface Machining Wizard (SMW) module for surface machining of free form shapes.  For existing PartMaker users, the upgrade to ASM will be provided free of cost and the transition will be very easy to make.

The benefits of the ASM module for PartMaker users are numerous. They will allow for faster tool path calculation, greater tool control and improved surface finishes, among other benefits.

The ASM module features a wide variety of high-end milling strategies that can be applied across the entire suite of PartMaker CAM applications including PartMaker Mill, PartMaker Turn-Mill and PartMaker SwissCAM.  The powerful surface machining strategies in ASM are the same as those found in PowerMILL, Delcam’s industry leading CAM system for the manufacture of complex shapes.

For more information, visit: www.partmaker.com

Delcam is pleased to announce that it has converted the software division of its Australian reseller Camplex into a wholly-owned subsidiary, Delcam Australia, covering the sales and support of Delcam software products in Australia.  Similarly, the Camplex office in Auckland has become Delcam New Zealand and will operate as a branch office of Delcam Australia.  

Delcam is pleased to confirm that the staff at Camplex will become employees of Delcam Australia and Delcam New Zealand, so ensuring that any impact of the change for customers will be minimal.  The new subsidiary will operate from the same offices, and the staff will have the same office and mobile phone numbers for existing and potential customers to contact them.  

In the longer term, being a full subsidiary of Delcam will enable additional investment in the sales and support operations in Australia and New Zealand.  This will probably include a move to new offices for the Melbourne operation and an increase in staff so that the 500 Delcam customers in the countries can be provided with an even better service.

Camplex has represented Delcam in Australia since 1988 from its offices in Melbourne and Brisbane.  It will continue to sell and support the Baces3D arms, Roland milling machines and Vericut software, and will work closely with Delcam Australia on any joint customers.

For more information, visit: www.delcam.com

Additive manufacturing and machining are usually regarded as competing processes. However, the two technologies are being combined in a project at the French research centre PEP, where Delcam’s PowerSHAPE CAD software and PowerMILL CAM system are being used to finish machine parts created by laser sintering.

PEP is the main technical centre for innovation in the French plastics industry, specialising in the injection moulding of thermoplastics. It was founded in 1989, with the support of the French government, by companies in the Rhône-Alpes region, an area known as “plastics valley” because of the high concentration of moulding companies and mouldmakers.  For more than 20 years, PEP’s mission has been to provide expertise and services to the country’s plastics companies, in particular to develop their productivity, both through collaborative research projects and through individual contracts.

The main areas of expertise of PEP’s researchers and engineers include design and simulation of parts and processes, injection moulding processes and tooling, and plastics materials.

The Delcam software was first chosen by PEP for PLATINNO, a technological innovation platform for tooling undertaken in association with CETIM, France’s main research centre for mechanical engineering. The aim of the project is to provide support – technical, human resources and financial – for companies working in the French plastics sector.

The first step in the project was to acquire a Roders high-speed machining centre to perform finishing operations on metallic parts created by laser sintering from an EOS machine already owned by PEP. The second step was to choose the right CADCAM solution.  

PEP’s specifications were detailed: the organisation wanted CAD for electrode design, excellent 2D and 3D milling, including support for continuous five-axis operation, and a technology for on-machine verification. The overall aim was to reduce the programming and machining times, but the system also needed to offer the ability to develop specific macros and strategies for moulding, aerospace and medical projects.

With support from CETIM, which has undertaken research into high-speed machining for many years, PEP was introduced to all the main CADCAM vendors to assess their systems. The organisation particularly liked the Delcam software, not least because the company could meet all of its needs. It acquired PowerSHAPE, PowerMILL, PowerINSPECT and ArtCAM.

PEP has become subsequently much more than a typical customer, with close relationships established with the staff from Delcam France. The organisation is developing as an important partner, with a series of joint technical days undertaken already this year.  For Delcam France, the high profile of PEP in the plastics industry, and in the region, will help to attract many more customers to the software.

For more information, visit: www.delcam.com

Delcam is offering free use of its online CAD data-exchange service, Delcam Exchange through November 26th.  The normal pay-as-you-go fee of £34 (approximately US$50) per model will be waived for unlimited use of the service during this period.   

Delcam Exchange is a unique service under which the translation software is downloaded free of charge and then stored on the user’s own computer.  To undertake each translation, the user simply obtains a real-time authorisation from the Delcam Exchange website.  Outside of the free offer, users can either pay for individual translations or buy a set of 20 vouchers with a bonus of four free translations.

The full range of options for input into Delcam Exchange is now CATIA V5, Pro/Engineer, Creo, Siemens NX (Unigraphics), SolidWorks, AutoCAD, AutoDesk Inventor, Rhino, Solid Edge, Cimatron, IDEAS, TopSolid, Parasolid, ACIS, IGES, VDA-FS and STEP, plus Delcam’s own DDX, DMT and DGK formats, while files can be exported as CATIA V5, Rhino, AutoCAD, Parasolid XT, ACIS, IGES, STEP or VDA-FS, or as Delcam’s DDX, DGK or DMT.

The Delcam Exchange approach offers two advantages of over other online translation providers – speed and security.  Most other services require the CAD model to be sent to the service provider for translation and then returned to the customer.  

Delcam Exchange gives much faster results since transferring a short authorisation code is much quicker and easier than transferring a complex CAD model.  Once the authorisation has been obtained, the translation itself will normally take seconds, with even the most complex models never needing more than a few minutes.

The service also gives total security.  Since the model file stays within the user’s own computer, there is no chance of sensitive information being intercepted or mailed to an incorrect address.

In the ten years since it was launched more than 50,000 users have registered for the Delcam Exchange service.  Less than one per cent of users have claimed refunds for unsuccessful or incomplete translations under Delcam’s no-quibble guarantee scheme. While this high level of success is a testament to the quality of the Delcam Exchange software, it is also helped by the preview option provided as part of the service.  This allows users to view the file they have translated before they pay and so gives customers confidence that the translation has been completed correctly before they incur any costs.

Many customers simply use the preview option to view models without completing the translation.  This is especially beneficial for sub-contractors that need to analyse models to provide quotes.  Using Delcam Exchange in viewing mode allows the quote to be prepared without incurring any translation costs that would be wasted if the bid is unsuccessful.

For more information, visit: www.delcam-exchange.com

Tuesday, 13 November 2012 11:10

Delcam Adds Probing Capabilities to FeatureCAM

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Delcam has added new probing capabilities in the 2013 version of its FeatureCAM feature-based CAM software.  The ability to incorporate probing sequences into CAM programs makes it easier to undertake unsupervised production operations by allowing automated checks to be carried out before, during and after machining.

Probing paths can be generated for five feature types: pockets, obstructed pockets and webs; inside or outside corners; bosses, bores and obstructed bores; radial bosses, bores and obstructed bores; and single surfaces.  All of the resulting probing paths can be simulated and collision checked on the computer in the same way as cutting paths.

The new probing options can be used in a variety of ways.  Before machining, sequences can be created to check that the expected part and fixture have been loaded, and that they have been placed in the correct orientation.  The position of the part can be confirmed and fixture offsets introduced if required to compensate for any errors.

In a similar way, the amount of excess material can be detected on near-net shapes, such as forgings or castings.  Offsets can then be introduced to give a more even distribution of the material that has to be removed, so improving machining efficiency.

Additional probing routines can be introduced at any stage during manufacturing.  For example, as a cutting tool wears, it could be leaving too much material on the job.  This trend could be monitored by regular probing of the parts being produced and a tool change introduced automatically as the material being left came close to the target tolerance.  Alternatively, the tool offset could be adjusted to compensate for the reduced size of the cutter.

Similarly, critical features could be inspected immediately after they had been created to check whether too much material had been removed.  If the parts were found to be outside tolerance, they could be scrapped immediately, rather than carrying on with machining and waiting for the results of an inspection at the end of the complete process.  For example, if a crucial bore within the part had to be made to a particularly accurate tolerance, this could be machined and checked first, before continuing with the other, less critical, operations.

Probing routines can also be added for checking at the end of the process.  While independent inspection on a separate measuring device would still be needed, the initial check on the machine would highlight any parts well outside the required tolerance so eliminating wasted inspection time.  In some cases, it might be possible for the independent inspection be undertaken on intermittent parts to confirm the results from the probing on the machine, rather than on every part, again saving inspection time.

For more information, visit: www.featurecam.com

Delcam has launched a new website for its PowerSHAPE CAD system which details the many advantages of using the software for both product design and tooling design. The new site includes links to the PowerSHAPE learning zone, where existing users can learn about, and see demonstrations of, the latest functionality, and to the PowerSHAPE-e website, where potential customers can download an evaluation version and view introductory tutorials on how to use the program.

PowerSHAPE offers a unique combination of robust solid modeling, flexible surface modelling, and quick and easy direct modeling, plus triangle modelling for editing STL files and other triangle formats. Overall, it provides the most comprehensive range of modeling techniques available in a single CAD program. Having all the different technologies in the same package reduces the need to transfer data between multiple programs and so streamlines the whole product development process.

This broad range of functionality makes PowerSHAPE ideal for the re-engineering of existing products into improved designs or for creating customised items, such as medical devices for an individual patient or sports equipment for a specific athlete. At the same time, the combination of direct modelling options, together with powerful and flexible surface modelling, makes PowerSHAPE the perfect choice for design for manufacture, especially when converting product designs into tooling designs.

PowerSHAPE also includes the Solid Doctor, a comprehensive set of tools for the repair of CAD models from all sources, including IGES, STEP and native CATIA and Creo files. It can be used to tackle all the common problems that are 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 solid model.

A more recent addition to PowerSHAPE is a range of direct modelling functionality that will speed up and simplify concept development, and enable tooling designers to tackle all the common problems that they find in product designs, such as insufficient draft or inappropriate fillet sizes. These new options have been made as accessible as possible by enhancing existing commands rather than grouping them in a separate area of the software.

Another powerful PowerSHAPE option is Smart Surfacing, which makes surface modelling much easier than other systems. The user simply selects a set of curves around an area and PowerSHAPE analyses the curves to determine the most appropriate way to create the surface automatically. Alternative solutions can be displayed if the first surface is not of the type required.

PowerSHAPE also incorporates Delcam’s unique Power Features technology. Components that contain Power Features react with connecting components as they are placed within an assembly, adding all the necessary fit-features to the appropriate parts. The tolerances between the various components can also be defined automatically as each item is added. 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.

For more information, visit: www.powershape.com

A new module has been made available for the latest version of Delcam’s PowerINSPECT inspection software that allows the software to create efficient inspection sequences for use on dual-column CNC coordinate-measuring machines. This development continues the drive to make PowerINSPECT the preferred inspection software for all types of metrology equipment.

The combination of a dual-column CMM and PowerINSPECT enables inspection times to be reduced by allowing the simultaneous measurement of different features on larger parts. A common application is automotive body-in-white inspection, where the evaluation of a large, complex and relatively symmetrical assembly requires both intricate measurements on each side combined with an assessment of the structure as a whole. Using this new module gives the ability to measure parts on these devices in a single coordinate system without repositioning.

In general, the dual-column mode works in a similar manner to the single-column CNC version of PowerINSPECT: models are loaded in the same way; inspection items are created using the same methods and so on. An additional programming operation is needed to distribute the various items to be inspected between the two columns.

Additions to the offline-programming and program-running capabilities provide easy tools for moving inspection items between the two columns to balance the inspection time needed for each one. The user can switch columns in much the same way that they switch probes or tools.

To ensure safe operation of the CMM, the collision predictor within PowerINSPECT checks for possible collisions between columns by calculating their moves as the inspection proceeds and comparing their future positions in space and time. If any overlap is detected, the inspection is stopped and a warning displayed. This is the only reliable way to prevent collisions between columns because of factors like speed differences between the way they are programmed and the way the machines actually move.

Of course, the dual-column version of PowerINSPECT offers the same comprehensive range of inspection routines for taking simple measurements, for inspection of geometric features and for analysing complex 3D surfaces. Similarly, the resulting reports present detailed information in an easy-to-read format, that can be understood by all engineers not just inspection specialists.

For more information, visit: www.powerinspect.com

Friday, 05 October 2012 09:57

Delcam's Integrated Electrode Solution

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Due to the close integration that has been made possible through a combination of developments in Delcam’s PowerSHAPE CAD software, PowerMILL CAM system and PowerINSPECT inspection software. Delcam now has a completely integrated solution for the design, machining and inspection of electrodes. The production of electrodes is a key stage in the manufacture of many types of tooling, including injection molds, so the availability of a faster, more automated method for their development will increase efficiency and reduce lead times across a number of industries.

At the heart of the novel Delcam solution is a new file format – the .Trode file.  This contains all the information for each electrode project, including not only the electrode design but also the machining and inspection information, plus the set-up sheets for its manufacture and use.  Having all the required information in a single file simplifies data management as well as increasing overall efficiency.

The initial design stage of the process has been made both easier and faster thanks to the increased range of direct modeling tools available within PowerSHAPE.  Users can now quickly and easily define the region where the electrode will be used, extract the shape needed to produce the required feature in the part, and then edit the design to provide clearance from the main surface of the tool and to blend it into the blank size needed to fix the electrode into its holder.

Analysis tools are available to check that the draft angles and minimum radii used in the design will not cause downstream problems, while the ability to simulate the action of the electrode ensures that it will operate as expected.  To speed the design process further, catalogues of blanks and holders are included from Erowa, Hirschman and System 3R.  Users can add their own standard sizes to these databases.

Once the design has been finalized, the necessary spark gaps can be specified to provide the machining offsets required in PowerMILL to cut the roughing and finishing electrodes.  Inspection points can also be added so that the measurement of the electrode in PowerINSPECT can be automated to a large extent.  Then, set-up sheets for the electrode’s manufacture and use can be produced automatically, either to a standard format or to a user-defined template.

Companies that produce multiple electrodes of similar sizes from the same material can develop templates within PowerMILL to machine them in a standardized way.  Burn, clearance and blank faces of the electrode are automatically colour-coded within PowerSHAPE so that they can be recognized within PowerMILL.  The size of the material block and the spark gaps for the electrode family are also read from the .Trode file and applied to the toolpaths automatically.  Once the templates have been created, generating the machining toolpaths becomes a fully-automated process.

Specifying the inspection points within PowerSHAPE means that the probe path in PowerINSPECT and the production of the inspection report can also be automated, including undertaking a best-fit analysis of the machined electrode.  However, all of PowerINSPECT’s flexibility is available if extra measurements are needed from any areas of the part that are causing concern.  The results of the inspection are added to the .Trode file for quality control records.

The automated generation of set-up sheets for both the machining and application of the electrodes ensures that all the data needed at each stage is readily available.  A documentation pack, including the GA and detail sheets, can be issued as drawings, HTML files or Microsoft Excel spread sheets.  All these options make communication easy between the various people involved in the design, manufacture and use of the electrodes.

For more information, visit: www.delcam.com

Thursday, 27 September 2012 11:31

Delcam celebrates IMTS "Unique Booth Exhibit" Award

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Delcam completed a hugely successful week in Chicago at the recent IMTS exhibition with record numbers of visitors to its booth.  As well as proving a major talking point for show delegates, Delcam’s spectacular booth won the award for “Unique Booth Exhibit” out of close to 2,000 exhibitors at the Show.  

IMTS 2012, which ran from 10th to15th September at Chicago’s McCormick Place, attracted a total registration of over 100,000 visitors, a 21.6% increase over 2010, marking the largest show-to-show increase ever for the event.  Delcam’s results were slightly ahead of the show total, with a 25% increase in the number of leads generated.

“We made our biggest-ever investment in any exhibition at this year’s IMTS, with the largest booth of any of the CAM suppliers,” claimed Delcam’s North America President, Glenn McMinn.  “Our record number of visitors confirmed that this investment was well worthwhile.  We will be generating sales from the Show for months and years to come.  Having our efforts recognised with the “Unique Booth” award was the icing on the cake.”

“Anyone claiming that “American manufacturing is dead” should have been on our booth”, said Mr. McMinn.  “They would have seen hundreds of companies that are keen to invest, that want to increase their production and that want to support America’s continued prosperity.”

“In the opening six months of this year, our software sales in North America were up by over 25% compared to the first half of last year,” he added.  “This dramatic growth seems likely to continue given the enthusiasm for our software that we saw at IMTS.”   

Another highlight of the exhibition was the announcement of Delcam’s 40,000th customer – Lifetime Products Inc.  The company, which has recently purchased the PowerMILL and FeatureCAM CAM systems, manufactures a number of outdoor products from swing sets and basketball hoops, to lawn furniture and storage sheds, to kayaks and tent trailers, all designed and manufactured largely in the United States.

According to Mr. McMinn, a key factor in the company’s continuing success is its broad range of software, coupled with a growing recognition in North America of its status as the world’s leading specialist supplier of CAM software.  “We can now offer a CAM system to machine virtually any product, in any material on any type of equipment,” claimed Mr. McMinn.  “No other supplier has such a broad a range of software to increase productivity, improve quality and shorten delivery times in so many applications.”

Delcam’s full range of CAM systems is now made up of PowerMILL for high-speed and five-axis machining, FeatureCAM for feature-based machining, PartMaker for Swiss-type lathes and turn-mill equipment, the integrated CAM system Delcam for SolidWorks, and ArtCAM for routing and engraving.  Together, the complete set of programs comprises the world’s most comprehensive collection of machining software; giving Delcam an unrivalled ability to provide solutions to all of a company’s programming needs.

A major contributor to Delcam’s success at IMTS was the launch of new releases of FeatureCAM and Delcam for SolidWorks, plus previews of new versions of PowerMILL PartMaker and ArtCAM.  “Delcam employs the largest development team in the CAM industry,” said Mr. McMinn.  “The results of their efforts impressed all our visitors, both the potential customers that were looking to upgrade their existing software and our many current users that were excited to see the new enhancements they will receive in the coming months.”

For more information, visit: www.delcam.com or www.imts.com

Wednesday, 29 August 2012 09:25

Delcam adds over 20 students to Birmingham staff

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CADCAM developer Delcam has added more than 20 students to the staff at its Birmingham headquarters in the last few months. The latest recruits include new graduates in permanent positions and students wanting to gain employment experience during their courses that have been given fixed-term placements. In both cases, the additions have included posts in software development, engineering support and marketing.

This is the third year running that Delcam has added more than 20 students to its Birmingham staff. The importance of the company’s graduate programme reflects the rapid growth in its global sales, both in its established manufacturing area and in the newer healthcare markets. Earlier this month, Delcam announced that it had achieved record half-year sales in the opening six months of this year, the fifth consecutive six-month period in which it has set new record levels of sales. In addition, the company was rated recently by CIMdata as the world’s leading specialist supplier of CAM software for the twelfth consecutive year.

"As might be expected, we have offered some of the new permanent positions to students that have previously completed placements at Delcam,” commented Software Development Manager, Richard Barrett. "The placement system works well for both the students and the company. The work experience helps the students’ credibility when they apply for jobs at end of their courses, while it gives the company a comprehensive opportunity to assess their potential as full-time employees.”

"We are planning a further round of placements and graduate recruitment for next year and should have the details on our website by the end of September,” he added. "We will again be looking for first class applicants for all our departments, with assessment days planned in Birmingham over the coming months.”

For more information, visit: www.delcam.com/general/about/jobs.asp

Friday, 17 August 2012 09:48

Delcam Announces PartMaker 2013

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PartMaker Inc., a division of Delcam Plc, will begin shipping PartMaker Version 2013, the latest version of PartMaker Software for programming CNC Mills, Lathes, WireEDM, Turn-Mill Centers and Swiss-type lathes in the fourth quarter of 2012.  Among a number of other enhancements, this new version will feature a totally revamped surface machining module offering PartMaker users some of the most powerful CAM machining algorithms on the market today for 3, 4 and 5 axis simultaneous milling operations on a variety of machining platforms including CNC Mills, Turn-Mill Centers, Bar-Fed Mills and Swiss-type lathes. PartMaker 2013 also features a restyled, more productive user interface.

Restyled User Interface

PartMaker Version 2013 features a sleeker, restyled user interface.  Headlining the improvements in the user interface in PartMaker 2013 is the Job Explorer tree which makes navigating Machining Function Face Windows and Part Features faster.  Additionally, a number of new controls have been added to the software to make working even more intuitive. Also, a number of diagrams in the software have been recast and revamped to give PartMaker 2013 a fresh new look. While the user interface enhancements are numerous, PartMaker 2013 has retained the software’s traditional work flow with its industry leading ease of use so existing users will not have to worry about any relearning, they will just be able to be more productive.

Introducing the Advanced Surface Machining (ASM) Module

The new high-end milling functionality available in PartMaker Version 2013 will be known as the Advanced Surface Machining module, or ASM for short.  ASM will replace PartMaker’s Surface Machining Wizard (SMW) module for three, four and five axis machining.  For existing PartMaker users, the upgrade to ASM will be provided free of cost and the transition will be very easy to make.

The benefits of the ASM module for PartMaker users are numerous. The will allow for faster tool path calculation, greater tool control and improved surface finishes, among other benefits.

The ASM module will feature a wide variety of high-end milling strategies that can be applied across the entire suite of PartMaker CAM applications including PartMaker Mill, PartMaker Turn-Mill and PartMaker SwissCAM.  The powerful surface machining strategies in ASM are the same as those found in PowerMILL, Delcam’s industry leading CAM system for the manufacture of complex shapes.  Each strategy provides for full tool control enabling them to be used in either traditional 3-axis methods or up to 5-axis simultaneous machining methods, depending on a machine tool’s capability.

The advent of ASM extends PartMaker’s 5-axis simultaneous milling functionality to CNC milling centers, making PartMaker an unsurpassed solution for production oriented manufacturers to solve all of their CNC programming challenges, Milling, Turning, Wire EDM, Turn-Mill and Swiss with one, unified programming platform.

Vortex Technology for High Speed Machining

PartMaker 2013 will feature Delcam’s new Vortex High Speed Machining Strategies (as part of ASM). The Vortex area-clearance strategy, for which Delcam has a patent pending, has been developed by Delcam specifically to gain the maximum benefit from solid carbide tooling, in particular those designs that can give deeper cuts by using the full flute length as the cutting surface. It can be used for 2.5 and 3-axis roughing, 3+2-axis area clearance and for rest machining.

Like other Delcam roughing strategies, Vortex toolpaths are calculated to give more efficient machining by following the shape of the part and by keeping air moves to a minimum. This is particularly important for rest machining operations. One fundamental problem with conventional area-clearance strategies is that the optimum cutting conditions only occur during a straight-line cut. Any internal corners within the model significantly increase the engagement angle of the cutter. To protect the cutter, this increase needs to be balanced by setting a lower feed rate. The user then has the choice of using this lower rate over the whole toolpath, which increases the machining time, or varying the feeds and speeds as the cutter moves around the model and so increasing wear on the cutter.

Unlike other high-speed roughing techniques that aim to maintain a constant theoretical metal-removal rate, the Vortex strategy produces toolpaths with a controlled engagement angle for the complete operation. This maintains the optimum cutting conditions for the entire toolpath that would normally be possible only for the straight-line moves. As a result, the cutting time will be shorter, while cutting will be undertaken at a more consistent volume-removal rate and feed rate, so protecting the machine.

Because Vortex toolpaths have a controlled engagement angle, tools will never be overloaded and so will achieve the maximum tool life. Shock loading caused by changes in the contact angle is minimized, preventing chipping of the flutes. In addition, the stability of the cutting conditions gives more consistent edge temperatures, so prolonging the life of the tool coating and removing heat damage to the surface of the part. Finally, the ability to use stepdowns of up to two, or even three times, the tool diameter spreads the tool wear evenly over the cutting surface of the tool, again contributing to longer tool life.

More on PartMaker

PartMaker is a Knowledge Based Machining system, allowing it to provide a substantial gain in programming efficiency by remembering the tools, material and process information necessary to machine individual part features.  It thus relieves the user from reentering the same features information for subsequent parts.  It also improves productivity by placing the emphasis on tool management functions.

PartMaker pioneered the field of CAM software for Turn-Mills and Swiss-type lathes with its patented Visual Programming Approach for programming multi-axis lathes with live tooling. It assures quicker learning and easier use. It makes an extensive use of pictures to help the user describe tools, part features and machining data.  Synchronization of tools working on multiple spindles is achieved by a few mouse clicks.

For more information, visit: www.partmaker.com

Delcam has released the 2012 R2 version of its PowerINSPECT software for inspection and reverse engineering. This includes enhancements to the inspection capabilities and also continues the development of the reverse engineering capabilities introduced earlier this year. The main enhancement in this area has been an expansion of the Digitised Curves capabilities to create a powerful re-engineering and modeling tool.

Improvements to the inspection functionality include a new, simplified procedure enabling users to quickly calibrate the probe assembly by probing a single point anywhere within the measuring envelope; a new offset-alignment method that aligns the part with the axes of the CMM while setting the position with a single point measurement; and new point-cloud options that make it easier to modify and reuse digitised curves and points, with options for editing, deleting and resuming measurement of the points and curves.

The automated section-measurement functionality, which was previously only available in the manual version of PowerINSPECT, is now available in both the OMV and CNC offline-programming versions.  This strategy for creating probe paths along a section of the component provides quick and easy comparison of a cross-section against the CAD model.  This type of section measurement is important for the measurement of blades and aerofoils, as well as for automotive inspection.

New options within Digitised Curves allow edges, holes and gaps to be identified as the part is being probed. Curves can also be created from CAD models within PowerINSPECT or they can be imported directly from other software packages. All these curves can be modified by rotation, translation, mirroring or scaling, or by editing individual points within the curve.

Once created, curves can be exported as polylines as well as to the previously-available NURBS format. This enhancement is part of a general increase in the ability to export surface and geometric items for use in modelling applications, with VDA export added to the existing IGES format.

The new creation and editing options for curves can be used with a new marking out feature for refining or completing clay models- a requirement for creating automotive and marine styling models. This utility enables curves created within PowerINSPECT to be used to guide a marking out tool on a measuring device or layout machine.

For more information, visit: www.powerinspect.com

Delcam will launch the 2013 version of Delcam for SolidWorks, the integrated CAM system for SolidWorks, on booth E-3222 at the IMTS exhibition to be held in Chicago from 10th to 14th September.  The new release includes a new entry-level 3D milling option, plus many of the enhancements made to the 2013 version of the FeatureCAM feature-based programming system on which it is based.  As a Gold Partner CAM product, it is, of course, fully compatible with the latest release of SolidWorks.

The new entry-level 3D option includes all the 2D and 2.5D strategies available in Delcam for SolidWorks, plus the 3D single-surface strategies for Z-level roughing, with either offset or raster, and finishing with raster, isoline or spiral.  It is intended mainly as an introductory level program for companies new to 3D machining but will also be useful for users that only have an occasional need for 3D capabilities or that only machine softer materials.

A number of new strategies have been added to the high-speed machining module in Delcam for SolidWorks.  Step cutting has been added within area clearance to remove large terraces that can be left on the part when using deeper roughing cuts.  Extra toolpaths can now be generated that step back up the terrace with the existing large tool, adding extra cuts at intermediate levels.  This results in more material being removed, using the same tool within the same toolpath.

Automatic splitting of finishing between steep and shallow areas of the part has been enhanced with the ability to use the scallop height to control the stepover.  Using this value rather than setting a constant stepover distance gives better control of the surface finish.

Both roughing and finishing strategies now incorporate an “area filter” to remove small enclosed pockets within the part from the toolpath.  Any attempt to cut these areas risks damage to the tool, even though it is mathematically possible to remove the material.

Delcam for SolidWorks now gives the option of using bottom-up machining for Z-level finishing as well as the conventional top-down approach.  This can be useful when using a ball-nose end mill as it avoids cutting with the centre of the tool and so gives a better surface finish and longer tool life.

New five-axis strategies available in Delcam for SolidWorks 2013 include flowline machining between two curves, pencil machining and corner re-machining.  These options for simultaneous five-axis machining allow a better surface finish to be achieved as well as ensuring access to more areas within the part in a single set-up.

New options have also been added to give smoother five-axis machining.  A new look-ahead capability will remove any sudden tool-axis changes during automatic collision avoidance and, instead, ensure that a smooth transition takes place.  In addition, the ability to smooth the Azimuth and Elevation axes independently is now available, allowing excessive five-axis movement to be removed.  These options stabilise the rotary axis movement by maintaining a fixed tool axis as far as possible, thus replacing constant five-axis movement with a series of 3+2-axis segments having full five-axis transitions between them.

Enhancements have also been made to the turning and mill-turn modules within Delcam for SolidWorks.  In particular, support is now available for simultaneous b-axis turning for more complex turning operations.  This allows more positioning options to be used for a single tool, so minimising tool changes and the associated dwell marks or surface blends.

Delcam for SolidWorks combines the benefits associated with Delcam’s PowerMILL and FeatureCAM CAM systems.  It is based on Delcam’s proven machining algorithms that are already used by more than 35,000 customers around the world.  The software offers PowerMILL’s exceptional speed of toolpath calculation, plus the advanced strategies for high-speed and five-axis machining, to ensure increased productivity, maximum tool life and immaculate surface finish, even when cutting the hardest, most challenging materials.  At the same time, Delcam for SolidWorks has the same strong focus on ease of use as FeatureCAM, including all of the knowledge-based automation that makes that system so consistent and reliable.

Delcam for SolidWorks is fully integrated into the SolidWorks environment so that the program looks and behaves like SolidWorks.  It offers full associativity so that any changes in the CAD model are reflected automatically in the toolpaths.  However, this associativity is more intelligent than that offered in many other integrated CAM systems.  Delcam for SolidWorks doesn’t simply modify the existing toolpaths but also reviews the choice of cutting tools and machining strategies, and changes them if necessary.

For more information, visit: www.delcamforsolidworks.com

Thursday, 05 July 2012 08:23

Delcam Announces PowerSHAPE 2013

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The 2013 release of Delcam’s PowerSHAPE CAD system includes enhancements to its direct modelling and reverse engineering capabilities that will make the software both more flexible and even easier to use.  In addition, the solid and surface modelling options have been made faster and even more robust.

PowerSHAPE provides the most comprehensive range of modelling techniques available in a single CAD program.  Having all the different technologies in the same package reduces the need to transfer data between multiple programs and so streamlines the whole product development process.  The broad range of functionality makes PowerSHAPE ideal for the re-engineering of existing products into improved designs or for creating specialised items.  At the same time, the combination of quick and easy direct modelling options, together with powerful and flexible surface modelling, makes PowerSHAPE the perfect choice for design for manufacture, especially when converting product designs into tooling designs.

The most important new option in PowerSHAPE’s direct modelling functionality is “Replace Face”.  This allows a selected face or group of faces to be replaced with another face or group of faces, either from the same solid or from a separate solid or surface model.  

In its most basic form, “Replace Face” can be used for offsetting surfaces of the model to provide machining allowances or clearances for electrodes for EDM.  It can also be used for more complex modifications to product designs.  In all cases, any other faces within the design that are affected by the change are extended and re-trimmed as necessary to maintain a closed solid.

A second new option that will be of particular interest to tooling designers will be the “Solid Core” command.  This selects automatically the smallest rectangular or cylindrical shape that will fully enclose a group of solid faces.  It can be used to create blanks for the manufacture of electrodes or when modelling slides within moulds to accommodate undercuts.  The shapes can be selected from spreadsheets, for example one showing different standard sizes for electrode blanks, that can be edited to each company’s specifications.

The main improvement to the existing direct modelling tools has been a simplification of the selection and editing of faces.  Groups of faces can now be selected by surrounding them with a boundary, either by dragging the mouse or by clicking a series of points.  Simpler methods have been added to then rotate the selected faces around a point or a cylinder, or to move them along a line.

For reverse engineering, PowerSHAPE now allows point-cloud data to be captured directly.  Point data can be displayed on-screen instantly as a laser attachment is passed over the object being scanned.  This ensures that all the required information can be captured as any gaps in the data will be apparent immediately.

Another new option in PowerSHAPE 2013 is the ability to perform 2D nesting of 2D profiles or 3D parts.  Once the numbers of each component required and the minimum spacing needed between each item has been specified, PowerSHAPE calculates the most efficient layout using the minimum amount of material.  The shape of any unused material can be saved so that it can be used for later projects.  The nesting option will be important for any company using sheet materials, including those in the press tool, composites and footwear industries, or for laying out multiple 3D parts for effective machining.

For more information, visit: www.delcam.tv/ps2013/lz/en/index.html

The 2013 release of Delcam’s PowerSHAPE CAD software, which is due for release next month, will include a major upgrade to the Solid Doctor module for data repair.

The module offers a comprehensive set of tools for the repair of CAD models from all sources, including IGES, STEP and native CATIA files.  It can be used to tackle all the common problems that are 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 solid model.

“Users will not see an immediate difference when they open the new version of the Solid Doctor,” admitted PowerSHAPE Development Manager, Ian Watkins.  “Most of the changes have been in the background to make the automatic repair tools faster and even more robust.  We have also made the recommendations clearer on the actions that need to be taken to solve the different types of problem.”

The Solid Doctor uses a combination of automatic data repair tools, 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.

The first stage in using the Solid Doctor is to analyse the model to determine the extent of any inconsistency issues in topology or geometry.  These errors are labelled on the model and divided into separate categories.  For each category or class of inconsistency, Solid Doctor recommends the most appropriate course of action, including a possible automatic fix.

The user then applies the automated repair sequence.  Each corrected issue has its label changed from red to green as it is repaired.  The repairs can be inspected individually to ensure that the results are as required or the whole model can be checked again to highlight any further inconsistencies.

The second repair stage involves using Delcam’s unique trim region editing tools to correct larger issues that require manual repair, such as mismatches between the edges of the various surfaces within the model.  These include direct editing options for the trim boundaries, which allow very quick and flexible adjustment of the surface edges to overcome errors in the model.

For the more serious problems that remain, it will usually be necessary to generate replacement surfaces in the affected area.  This can be done easily using PowerSHAPE’s Smart Surfacing technology.  The user simply deletes the existing surfaces and sketches around the area to be repaired.  PowerSHAPE will then analyse the boundary and suggest the most appropriate type of surface to fill the space.  Tangency can be maintained with the surrounding surfaces if required.  If the user is not happy with the initial selection made by the software, he can run through alternative solutions until he is satisfied with the result.

Once the user is happy with the quality of the repaired surfaces, they are incorporated back into the solid model automatically.  This process continues until all the inconsistencies have been resolved.  Giving the user total control over how the part is repaired allows even poor quality or badly-damaged data to be repaired quickly and efficiently.  

For more information, visit: www.powershape.com

Wednesday, 27 June 2012 08:38

Delcam to launch FeatureCAM 2013 at IMTS

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Delcam will launch the 2013 release of its FeatureCAM feature-based CAM software on booth E-3222 at the IMTS exhibition to be held in Chicago from 10th to 15th September.  This will offer a new series of options for three-axis milling and enhancements in five-axis machining, plus improvements in the turning and mill-turn modules.

FeatureCAM was the world’s first feature-based programming software when it was launched in 1995.  Constant development since then has ensured that the system has retained its leadership in programming speed and ease of use, while an increased range of strategies has been added to provide more efficient toolpaths giving greater productivity on a wider range of machines.

The main change to the 2013 FeatureCAM product family has been the introduction of three levels of 3D machining functionality.  FeatureMILL 3D Lite offers single-surface machining with a basic range of strategies and so provides an introductory product for companies moving into 3D machining for the first time.  

FeatureMILL 3D MX provides a greater number of strategies, including spiral finishing, flowline finishing and rotary machining, support for multiple-surface machining and automated feature recognition.  It is aimed at companies with conventional machine tools and those that are machining softer materials.

FeatureMILL HSM also contains all of the options for rest machining, such as pencil machining and corner clearance, and high-speed machining, including trochoidal machining and Delcam’s patented Race Line Machining.  It maximises the benefits of any investment in high-speed mills with strategies that maximise machine productivity while protecting the part, machine and cutter from excessive wear.

FeatureCAM HSM also includes a number of new strategies.  Step cutting has been added within area clearance to remove large terraces that can be left on the part when using deeper roughing cuts.  FeatureCAM will now produce extra toolpaths that step back up the terrace with the existing large tool, adding extra cuts at intermediate levels.  This results in more material being removed, using the same tool within the same toolpath.

Automatic splitting of finishing between steep and shallow areas of the part has been available in FeatureCAM for a number of releases.  This option has been enhanced with the ability to use the scallop height to control the stepover.  Using this value rather than setting a constant stepover distance gives better control of the surface finish.

Both roughing and finishing strategies now incorporate an “area filter” to remove small enclosed pockets within the part from the toolpath.  Any attempt to cut these areas risks damage to the tool, even though it is mathematically possible to remove the material.

New five-axis strategies available in FeatureCAM 2013 include flowline machining between two curves, pencil machining and corner re-machining.  These options for simultaneous five-axis machining allow a better surface finish to be achieved as well as ensuring access to more areas within the part in a single set-up.

New options have also been added to give smoother five-axis machining.  A new look-ahead capability will remove any sudden tool-axis changes during automatic collision avoidance and, instead, ensure that a smooth transition takes place.  In addition, FeatureCAM now offers the ability to smooth the Azimuth and Elevation axes independently and so remove excessive five-axis movement.  These options stabilise the rotary axis movement by maintaining a fixed tool axis as far as possible, thus replacing constant five-axis movement with a series of 3+2-axis segments having full five-axis transitions between them.

A number of enhancements have been added to FeatureCAM’s turning and mill-turn modules.  Definition of the initial stock and part alignment has been improved, making it more similar to the set-up process for milling, support has been added for semi-finish canned cycles and curves of revolution can now be recognised from STL models.  A new method has also been introduced allowing b-axis rotary milling to be carried out on features that would otherwise require the use of excessively long cutters.

The options for multi-spindle, multi-turret machines have been improved by fully integrating part transfers into the FeatureCAM output.  Simulation and post-processing of these operations is also supported.  In addition, the handling of synchronisation points has been enhanced to simplify the optimisation of the machining sequence between the various elements of the machine.

For more information, visit: www.featurecam.com

Delcam has expanded the range of equipment within the Advanced Manufacturing Facility at the company’s Birmingham headquarters with the addition of a GOM ATOS ScanBox inspection cell for 3D metrology and reverse engineering, and a Hermle C50 UMT five-axis machining centre.

These latest additions form part of a more general expansion of the Delcam Professional Services subsidiary as demand grows for its process development and prototype manufacturing services.  Delcam’s unique in-house manufacturing facility was incorporated into DPS at the beginning of 2011, after the two groups had worked closely on a number of major projects.  In each case, processes developed by the DPS team were proven within the AMF before being transferred onto equipment at the customer’s site.  

The GOM ScanBox contains the ATOS Triple Scan 3D sensor mounted on a robot, so combining the accuracy of the ATOS blue-light technology with the flexibility of the robot.  This combination offers the highest resolution data from small, detailed parts, while also providing extremely fast scanning of large objects up to two metres in length.  The point-cloud data generated can be used for either reverse engineering or inspection with Delcam software.

The Hermle C50 UMT machining centre offers five-axis machining through the incorporation of a trunion for the a axis and a rotary table to provide the c axis.  This provides an alternative approach to the existing DMG, Mazak and Huron five-axis equipment and so increases the ranges of processes that can be undertaken and components that can be produced.

Another benefit is that the table within the Hermle can be rotated at up to 500 revolutions per minute, so giving mill-turn capabilities.  The main milling spindle is locked in place during turning so that larger loads can be accommodated, while still retaining high speeds and accuracy.

The new equipment will increase the ability of DPS to help its clients to improve their manufacturing processes.  These services are attracting increased demand, especially from the aerospace and power generation industries, as many companies now find that their engineering resource is needed to maintain their on-going operations, leaving them limited capacity to introduce new products and develop new processes.

The new equipment will also be used in testing new developments in Delcam’s software.  Being able to test developments on-site on industrial-sized equipment obviously gives Delcam a major advantage in proving out its programs before they are delivered to customers.

The manufacturing expertise gained from the AMF forms an important part of the comprehensive support given by Delcam to all its customers.  As well as helping the development teams, the experience gained can be passed on to the support staff.  They can use this knowledge to give software users more detailed advice on all areas of their work, including aspects like the best choice of machining strategy and cutter selection, as well as the operation of the software.

For more information, visit: www.delcam.com

Delcam will launch the 2012 release of the company’s PowerINSPECT inspection software with a free, half-day seminar at its Birmingham headquarters on Tuesday, July 3rd.  The programme will include demonstrations of the new options in the latest release for both inspection and reverse engineering, plus tips and tricks to get the most out of the software.

The meeting will provide an opportunity for existing PowerINSPECT users to see the latest version of the software.  Companies considering adding PowerINSPECT will be able to learn about the added benefits of the new release.

PowerINSPECT is firmly established as the world’s leading hardware-independent inspection software.  It combines the ability to work with all types of inspection device with a comprehensive range of inspection routines for taking simple measurements, for inspection of geometric features and for analysing complex 3D surfaces.  The resulting reports present detailed information in an easy-to-read format, that can be understood by all engineers not just inspection specialists.

For the 2012 release, a new mirror command has been added to save programming time for symmetrical components.  This allows the inspection sequence to be mirrored from one half of a component to the other half, or from the left-hand version of a design to the right-hand copy.  The new feature can also reduce the possibility of programming errors and improve the consistency of the results between the two halves or between a pair of parts.

The range of dimensions that can be displayed on the model has been increased to include more types of distance, angle, and diameters and radii.  The options to display the various dimensions from the increased range have been made more versatile, to ensure the reports remain easy to read with only the required dimensions shown in the report.

There are two important additions to the PowerINSPECT 2012 point-cloud module for laser scanners and other point cloud devices.  STL export provides basic reverse engineering functionality for scanned data.  The STL files can be used within Delcam’s PowerSHAPE Pro design software for more advanced reverse engineering operations.

In addition, point-cloud display has been enhanced with an option to show any back-facing points in a second colour.  This highlights any discontinuities in the data, including gaps or other problem areas, and so makes it easier to identify areas that may need re-scanning to capture the complete model.

Another enhancement makes it possible to measure edge points directly; it is no longer necessary to measure the surface first.  This makes the process both easier and faster.  However, it is recommended that both the edge and the surface should be checked if there is any likelihood of the part being distorted, for example, when checking flexible sheet-metal or composite components.

The inspection of castings and forgings, and similar near-net shapes, has been improved with the addition of a new best-fit option.  This centres the component within the measurement data so that the largest possible minimum stock is located on the part.  It helps to ensure that positive material exists in all areas of any semi-finished part before it is sent for further machining.  The approach can be used with the PartAligner option to minimise machining set-up times.

A number of enhancements have been included to give faster and easier programming, with less chance of errors.  A new "lock workplane” option automatically creates a datum scheme matching the part’s coordinate system within PowerINSPECT’s GD&T True Position, while standard tolerances for Limit and Fit to ISO 286 and ISO 2768 have been included so that they can be selected from a pre-defined list.

For more information, visit: www.powerinspect.com

To register for the event, visit: www.delcam.co.uk/PowerINSPECT2012

Delcam customer De La Roy Isolatie & Design has used the PowerMILL five-axis CAM system to machine logos for the Belgian and French versions of television programme “The Voice”.  Each logo is a 4.5-metre-high hand holding a microphone, produced on one of the largest CNC milling machines in Europe.

De La Roy Isolatie & Design was founded in 1959 in Gemert, in the Netherlands, and now has twelve employees.  The company started as a supplier of insulation materials, mainly made from polystyrene.  More recently, the company diversified into using expanded polystyrene for design work.  Since then, De La Roy has become a specialist in the machining of complex patterns and models out of the material.  To support its growth, in 2007, the company acquired a 10m x 4m x 3.5m five-axis mill, capable of producing the most complex 3D models.

Soon after, De La Roy realised it would need a more powerful CADCAM system to provide programs for the new machine quickly and easily.  “We started looking for a new system because the software we had been using made it difficult to program simultaneous five-axis operation,” remembered Joost Banken, work planner at De La Roy.  “We compared several systems and chose Delcam’s PowerMILL because it provided the best fit for our needs.”

As soon as De La Roy started to use PowerMILL for its programming, the company discovered how much more easily its models could be programmed and made.  With its unique machine and growing experience of the full range of machining strategies in PowerMILL, De La Roy was soon producing a huge variety of products out of polystyrene.  

Since then, De La Roy has carried out many different projects for customers in television, exhibitions, signmaking and the playground industry.  These have included huge logos for Toyota and Lexus, a complete polystyrene home, an exhibition stand from Rockwool insulation materials and a playground display 45 metres wide.

De La Roy has been very satisfied with PowerMILL, with Mr. Banken claiming, “Until now I have never seen a better five-axis programming solution than PowerMILL.  One big advantage of using PowerMILL is that we can machine STL files or CAD models very rapidly.  We can produce high-quality results, even from designers and artists that are not the best creators of 3D models, and from models we get made in simple drawing programs, such as Google SketchUp, or from scanned files.  By using PowerMILL, we are able to manufacture and deliver more quickly than our competitors.”

Flexibility is De La Roy’s specialty and another major benefit of using PowerMILL.  “Our company makes all kinds of models, with many of them having very complex shapes,” explained Mr. Banken.  “Because PowerMILL is such a flexible CAM system, we can use it to find a solution to every problem.”

For more information, visit: www.powermill.com

Delcam will demonstrate its new Vortex strategy for high-speed area clearance at the IMTS exhibition to be held in Chicago from 10th to 15th September. Vortex will be the major enhancement for the 2013 release of Delcam’s PowerMILL CAM system for high-speed and five-axis machining that will be launched at the show. The new strategy will also be added to the FeatureCAM software for feature-based programming and the PartMaker system for programming Swiss-type lathes and turn-mill equipment later in the year.

Vortex, for which Delcam has a patent pending, has been developed by the company specifically to gain the maximum benefit from solid carbide tooling, in particular those designs that can give deeper cuts by using the full flute length as the cutting surface. It can be used for two- and three-axis roughing, three-plus-two-axis area clearance and for rest machining based on stock models or reference toolpaths.

Like other Delcam roughing strategies, Vortex toolpaths are calculated to give more efficient machining by following the shape of the part and by keeping air moves to a minimum. This is particularly important for rest machining operations.

One fundamental problem with conventional area-clearance strategies is that the optimum cutting conditions only occur during a straight-line cut. Any internal corners within the model significantly increase the engagement angle of the cutter. To protect the cutter, this increase needs to be balanced by setting a lower feed rate. The user then has the choice of using this lower rate over the whole toolpath, which increases the machining time, or varying the feeds and speeds as the cutter moves around the model and so increasing wear on the cutter.

Unlike other high-speed roughing techniques that aim to maintain a constant theoretical metal-removal rate, the Vortex strategy produces toolpaths with a controlled engagement angle for the complete operation. This maintains the optimum cutting conditions for the entire toolpath that would normally be possible only for the straight-line moves. As a result, the cutting time will be shorter, while cutting will be undertaken at a more consistent volume-removal rate and feed rate, so protecting the machine.

Because Vortex toolpaths have a controlled engagement angle, tools will never be overloaded and so will achieve the maximum tool life. Shock loading caused by changes in the contact angle is minimised, preventing chipping of the flutes. In addition, the stability of the cutting conditions gives more consistent edge temperatures, so prolonging the life of the tool coating and removing heat damage to the surface of the part. Finally, the ability to use stepdowns of up to two, or even three times, the tool diameter spreads the tool wear evenly over the cutting surface of the tool, again contributing to longer tool life.

"Anyone using the Vortex strategy will be able to hear the difference immediately,” claimed Mark Forth, Product Manager for Delcam’s Advanced Manufacturing Solutions. "Conventional roughing produces a sound of varying pitch, which indicates tool overload and chatter, while Vortex roughing gives a constant pitch, showing that the tool is operating under consistent conditions. Users will also be able to see the difference in the regular size and thickness of the chips produced, providing further evidence of the consistency of the cut.”

The new Vortex toolpaths benefit from the general advantages of PowerMILL, including support for 64-bit computing and multi-processor operation to minimise calculation times, plus the comprehensive options for leads and links. Furthermore, they can be used in association with the step-cutting strategy introduced in PowerMILL 2012 R2. This approach minimises the terracing that can result from using a large stepdown by moving back up the part and automatically generating extra toolpaths to remove additional material at intermediate slices. It optimises the amount of material that can be removed with a single tool as well as helping to maintain a more consistent removal rate by increasing the feed rate for the intermediate slices.

For more information, visit: www.powermill.com

The 2012 release of Delcam’s PowerINSPECT inspection software includes new options to make inspection easier. In addition, basic reverse engineering functionality has been added to the point-cloud module.

PowerINSPECT is firmly established as the world’s leading hardware-independent inspection software. It combines the ability to work with all types of inspection device with a comprehensive range of inspection routines for taking simple measurements, for inspection of geometric features and for analysing complex 3D surfaces. The resulting reports present detailed information in an easy-to-read format, that can be understood by all engineers not just inspection specialists.

For the 2012 release, a new mirror command has been added to save programming time for symmetrical components. This allows the inspection sequence to be mirrored from one half of a component to the other half, or from the left-hand version of a design to the right-hand copy. The new feature can also reduce the possibility of programming errors and improve the consistency of the results between the two halves or between a pair of parts.

The range of dimensions that can be displayed on the model has been increased to include more types of distance, angle, and diameters and radii. The options to display the various dimensions from the increased range have been made more versatile, to ensure the reports remain easy to read with only the required dimensions shown in the report.

There are two important additions to the PowerINSPECT 2012 point-cloud module for laser scanners and other point cloud devices. STL export provides basic reverse engineering functionality for scanned data. The STL files can be used within Delcam’s PowerSHAPE Pro design software for more advanced reverse engineering operations.

In addition, point-cloud display has been enhanced with an option to show any back-facing points in a second colour. This highlights any discontinuities in the data, including gaps or other problem areas, and so makes it easier to identify areas that may need re-scanning to capture the complete model.

Another enhancement makes it possible to measure edge points directly; it is no longer necessary to measure the surface first. This makes the process both easier and faster. However, it is recommended that both the edge and the surface should be checked if there is any likelihood of the part being distorted, for example, when checking flexible sheet-metal or composite components.

The inspection of castings and forgings, and similar near-net shapes, has been improved with the addition of a new best-fit option. This centres the component within the measurement data so that the largest possible minimum stock is located on the part. It helps to ensure that positive material exists in all areas of any semi-finished part before it is sent for further machining. The approach can be used with the PartAligner option to minimise machining set-up times.

A number of enhancements have been included to give faster and easier programming, with less chance of errors. A new "lock workplane” option automatically creates a datum scheme matching the part’s coordinate system within PowerINSPECT’s GD&T True Position, while standard tolerances for Limit and Fit to ISO 286 and ISO 2768 have been included so that they can be selected from a pre-defined list.

For more information, visit: www.powerinspect.com

Delcam will offer free use of its pay-as-you-go, online data-exchange service, Delcam Exchange, through its Facebook page. The normal fee of £34 (approximately US$50) per model will be waived for anyone who likes Delcam on its Facebook page.

Delcam Exchange is a unique service under which the translation software is downloaded free of charge and then stored on the user’s own computer. To undertake each translation, the user simply obtains a real-time authorisation from the Delcam Exchange website. Outside of the free offer, users can either pay for individual translation or buy a set of 20 vouchers with a bonus of four free translations.

The Delcam Exchange approach offers two advantages of over other online translation providers – speed and security. Most other services require the CAD model to be sent to the service provider for translation and then returned to the customer.

Delcam Exchange gives much faster results since transferring a short authorisation code is much quicker and easier than transferring a complex CAD model. Once the authorisation has been obtained, the translation itself will normally take seconds, with even the most complex models never needing more than a few minutes.

The service also gives total security. Since the model file stays within the user’s own computer, there is no chance of sensitive information being intercepted or mailed to an incorrect address.

In the ten years since it was launched more than 50,000 users have registered for the Delcam Exchange service. Less than one per cent of users have claimed refunds for unsuccessful or incomplete translations under Delcam’s no-quibble guarantee scheme. While this high level of success is a testament to the quality of the Delcam Exchange software, it is also helped by the preview option provided as part of the service. This allows users to view the file they have translated before they pay and so gives customers confidence that the translation has been completed correctly before they incur any costs.

Many customers simply use the preview option to view models without completing the translation. This is especially beneficial for sub-contractors that need to analyse models to provide quotes. Using Delcam Exchange in viewing mode allows the quote to be prepared without incurring any translation costs that would be wasted if the bid is unsuccessful.

The full range of options for input into PS-Exchange is now CATIA V5, Pro/Engineer, Siemens NX (Unigraphics), SolidWorks, AutoCAD, AutoDesk Inventor, Rhino, Solid Edge, Cimatron, IDEAS, Parasolid, ACIS, IGES, VDA-FS and STEP, plus Delcam’s own DDX, DMT and DGK formats, while files can be exported as CATIA V5, Rhino, AutoCAD, Parasolid XT, ACIS, IGES, STEP, VDA-FS or STL, or as Delcam’s DDX, DGK or DMT.

For more information, visit: www.facebook.com/DelcamAMS/app_160430850678443

Delcam has launched the 2012 R2 release of its FeatureCAM feature-based CAM system, which includes important new strategies for roughing and turn-mill operations, alongside a range of more general enhancements to allow faster toolpath generation.

FeatureCAM was the world’s first feature-based programming software when it was launched in 1995.  Constant development since then has ensured that the system has retained its leadership in programming speed and ease of use, while an increased range of strategies has been added to provide more efficient toolpaths giving greater machine productivity.

The main addition to FeatureCAM 2012 R2 is a series of new strategies for 2.5D roughing.  These include a continuous spiral option to minimise wear on the cutter and machine tool, high-speed roughing options, including trochoidal machining and Delcam’s patented Race Line Machining, and "tear-drop” moves to clear corners more smoothly.  In addition, more styles of leads and links can now be used to give greater overall efficiency for the toolpaths.

Stepovers for 2.5D mill roughing can now be set as large as the tool diameter itself.   Previously, stepovers were limited to 50% of the tool diameter and, if this limit was exceeded, the toolpath would leave stands.  The new algorithm supports larger stepovers by providing extra moves automatically to clean up those stands.

Other milling improvements include an option to add an extra profile pass exactly at the base of flat pockets, the ability to use face-milling tools with chamfered edges to machine chamfers as well as faces and so minimise the number of tools needed, a choice of right- or left-handed thread-milling tools resulting in either climb or conventional machining of the thread, and the ability to reduce calculation times by saving boundaries as curves if they will be needed for subsequent calculations.

Roughing has also been improved for users of turning equipment that can operate with live tooling.  A new option allows cutting with a live milling tool, while the workpiece is rotating in the turning spindle.  This approach avoids the issues associated with interrupted cutting and ensures regular chip breakage, so removing any chance of wrap-around by the swarf.

Turn-mill programming has been improved with the addition of more flexible five-axis positioning.  For example, any amount of negative b-axis movement available can be used, so avoiding extending the y limit too far back into the machine.  Switching the positioning angles in this way makes editing easier to keep the machine within its travel limits.

Another turn-mill improvement is support for cylindrical interpolation, which allows toolpaths to be created with NC code for a plane and then wrapped around a cylinder.  This approach, which can also be used for four-axis milling, allows cutter compensation to be applied when calculating the toolpath and gives smaller NC code files.

All FeatureCAM users will benefit from improvements to the simulation module.  In particular, they will see much faster results through the use of multiple cores for these calculations.  In addition, the ability has been included to save a position during the simulation, for example, while toolpaths are being edited, and then to run the simulation from that position rather than from the start.

Other general enhancements include direct cutting and pasting of models between FeatureCAM and Delcam’s PowerSHAPE design and data repair software, and the ability to create machining configurations on a network as well as on an individual computer, so saving time and encouraging consistent results from different users.

For more information, visit: www.featurecam.com

Thursday, 19 January 2012 09:58

PartMaker Modeling to Debut at Westec 2012

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Delcam’s PartMaker Division will launch PartMaker Modeling on booth 2812 at the Westec exhibition to be held in Los Angeles from 27th to 29th March.  PartMaker Modeling has been made available as part of the recently released PartMaker 2012, which will make its West Coast debut at the exhibition.

PartMaker Modeling is a 3D design tool developed specifically for the needs of CNC manufacturers.  It lets users create, repair and modify 3D CAD data of any origin or level of quality and make flawless solid models they can use for the most efficient level of machining, CNC programming and 3D simulation.

"The engineering demands being faced by part manufacturers are becoming greater and greater in today’s increasingly competitive global manufacturing arena,” says PartMaker Division President, Hanan Fishman.  "To help our customers compete and thrive, we are providing them with a powerful yet easy-to-use tool to help them keep pace with these demands.”

PartMaker Modeling is a hybrid modeler working with surfaces and solids.  It incorporates Parasolid™, the world’s most widely used solid modelling kernel, to provide high quality solid models that can be used at any level of the supply chain.

PartMaker Modeling gives PartMaker users the most powerful 3D design tool of any PC-based CAD system, allowing for 3D modelling, direct modelling of dumb solid models and data repair in a manner other CAM systems simply do not and cannot offer.

PartMaker Modeling is a very easy to use, yet versatile and powerful CAD system, delivering state-of-the-art tools directly to the desktop.  It is based on Delcam’s proven PowerSHAPE 3D design package and has been specifically tuned to the needs of part manufacturers.

PartMaker Modeling integrates seamlessly with PartMaker.  3D models can be quickly cut and pasted between the applications.  PartMaker Modeling is developed and supported directly by Delcam, making Delcam a ‘one stop’ solution for customers’ CNC programming and design applications, eliminating the need to hunt for multiple CAD and CAM vendors or to pay multiple maintenance agreements.

In addition to PartMaker Modeling, PartMaker 2012 includes a host of new functionality across the entire suite of applications including improved visualization, more powerful simulation of vertical and horizontal machining centers, support for the latest breed of multi-axis bar-fed mills, turn-mill centers and Swiss-type lathes, greater flexibility and control in process development and much, much more.

"PartMaker 2012 will help our customers continue to ‘raise their game’ to stay ahead in an increasingly competitive manufacturing landscape,” says Mr. Fishman.  "PartMaker 2012 includes an array of new features and functionality that will benefit every PartMaker user.  There’s just so much for PartMaker users to be excited about.”

For more information, visit: www.partmaker.com or www.westeconline.com

Delcam will demonstrate the 2012 version of Delcam for SolidWorks, its integrated CAM system for SolidWorks, at SolidWorks World in San Diego from 12th to 15th February.  This latest release includes programming of wire EDM for the first time, alongside the comprehensive options for the programming of turning, mill-turn, drilling and two- through five-axis milling.

Other enhancements include target-part comparison, the ability to compare a model of the desired final shape with the shape achieved by the programmed toolpaths, and multiple-instance programming, the programming of multiple SolidWorks components in one operation, either in the same orientation or in different orientations.

Fully-automated de-burring and chamfering has also been added to give faster programming of these finishing operations on 2- or 2.5-axis parts.  The ability to incorporate chamfers, even when they are not shown in the original SolidWorks model, duplicates functionality previously available in Delcam’s feature-based CAM system, FeatureCAM.

Delcam for SolidWorks 2012 also incorporates enhancements from the 2012 release of FeatureCAM, including improvements in the use of stock models and new options in the tooling database.

Stock models allow the user to visualise the material remaining after each operation.  This makes it easier to eliminate air cutting and so generate more efficient toolpaths with reduced machining times.  The models also simplify the selection of the most appropriate tool sizes for rest-roughing and finishing operations.

The tooling database is a key part of the automation in Delcam for SolidWorks as it allows the optimum operating conditions to be associated with each tool.  In most companies, the database is developed by the most experienced user.  It then ensures that even inexperienced operators use safe and efficient cutting parameters.

Delcam for SolidWorks, which has been awarded Certified Gold Product status by Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp, combines the benefits associated with Delcam’s PowerMILL and FeatureCAM CAM systems.  It is based on Delcam’s proven machining algorithms that are already used by more than 35,000 customers around the world.  The software offers PowerMILL’s exceptional speed of toolpath calculation, plus the advanced strategies for high-speed and five-axis machining, to ensure increased productivity, maximum tool life and immaculate surface finish, even when cutting the hardest, most challenging materials.  At the same time, Delcam for SolidWorks has the same strong focus on ease of use as FeatureCAM, including all of the knowledge-based automation that makes that system so consistent and reliable.

Delcam for SolidWorks is fully integrated into the SolidWorks environment so that the program looks and behaves like SolidWorks.  It offers full associativity so that any changes in the CAD model are reflected automatically in the toolpaths.  However, this associativity is more intelligent than that offered in many other integrated CAM systems.  Delcam for SolidWorks doesn’t simply modify the existing toolpaths but also reviews the choice of cutting tools and machining strategies, and changes them if necessary.

To find out more, please visit: www.delcam.tv/dfs2012/lz

Delcam will launch the 2012 version of its DentMILL computer-aided machining software for dental restorations at two events in Chicago next month, the Cal-Lab Annual Meeting at the Westin Hotel on 23rd February and Lab Day Chicago at the Sheraton Hotel on 24th and 25th February.  Highlights of the new release include an easier-to-use interface, closer integration with the DentCAD design software and Delcam’s OrderManager software to give a faster and more efficient workflow, more efficient nesting to allow improved material usage, and new strategies offering smoother machining and better surface finish.

DentMILL makes it easy for technicians with minimal experience of computer-aided manufacturing to produce restorations using the latest machining technology.  It is based on Delcam’s award-winning PowerMILL CAM system, which is widely acknowledged to be a leader in high-speed and five-axis machining.  This allows the software to offer a far wider range of proven machining strategies than is available in other dental CAM programs.

This range of strategies allows all types of dental restoration to be produced rapidly and accurately.  In particular, the availability of advanced five-axis machining options helps to reduce material wastage, minimise hand finishing operations by removing undercut regions, and give more flexibility when machining crowns and bridges.

DentMILL is part of Delcam’s complete, closely-integrated dental solution, which covers every stage from accurately capturing the implant position and orientation, through to the high-precision, multi-axis milling of restorations, with a management system to track every stage of the process.  Even though Delcam is the only company able to offer such a complete solution, the company remains committed to its drive to replace "closed” manufacturing methods, in which the user is restricted to the use of a limited range of equipment and materials, with "open” systems, in which manufacturers can combine their own choice of equipment and software, and then use a broad variety of materials.  Thus, DentMILL can take models from most dental design systems and generate toolpaths for a range of machine tools.

The most obvious change to DentMILL is improved integration into the DentCAD workflow, including the introduction of a new user interface that replicates the easy-to-use style introduced in the 2010 version of DentCAD.  This features a reduced number of toolbars to allow the maximum screen space for toolpath generation and simulation, together with bolder and clearer icons.  The new interface has been designed in association with dental laboratories and milling centres to ensure that technicians with limited experience of computer-aided machining will find the software easy to learn and to use.

Material use has been made more efficient with improved and more flexible nesting tools to position the various restorations within the block.  In particular, the ability to apply part-to-part pinning has been added, rather than having to use separate sintering pins for each restoration.  This increases the number of parts that can be positioned within the block so improving material utilisation.

Background processing in DentMILL allows toolpath calculations to be started on the first items added to the block, while the remaining restorations are still being positioned.  This approach reduces the overall calculation times significantly.

DentMILL has also benefited from enhancements to the latest version of PowerMILL.  These include a number of new strategies that offer smoother machining to give the best possible surface finish.

Closer integration has also been added between DentMILL and Delcam’s OrderManager workflow management software so that the system is updated automatically with manufacturing data as it is generated.  The additional automation makes it easier to use the system to manage all the manufacturing steps through to eventual dispatch, and to maintain a ‘real-time’ view of the centre’s total order status.  Delcam’s OrderManager can be used with the full variety of manufacturing methods as it can easily be tailored to manage any milling centre’s individual process steps.

As well as incorporating a high degree of automation, the system has been designed to be extremely easy to use for staff at both the laboratory and the milling centre, thus minimising administration time whilst maximising feedback.   All stages of each transaction are logged, providing complete traceability for every order.

For more information, visit: www.dentmill.com / www.cal-lab.org/program.htm / www.lmtmag.com/lmtlabday

Friday, 13 January 2012 11:24

Delcam launches new web site for FeatureCAM

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Delcam has launched a new web site for its FeatureCAM feature-based CAM system.  The site includes video testimonials from some of the thousands of customers that have chosen FeatureCAM for their programming, including subcontractors and OEM manufacturers from the aerospace, automotive, energy, motorsport and toolmaking industries.

Other pages on the site show how FeatureCAM users can program their machine tools in the shortest possible time and achieve consistently reliable results thanks to the software’s combination of feature-based and knowledge-based technologies.  The site offers the opportunity to download a free evaluation copy of the software so that companies can try FeatureCAM’s unique approach to programming for themselves.

The new website features a modern, easy-to-navigate interface to allow visitors to find information relevant to their industry and machining application. This new style follows the format of new websites being introduced for Delcam’s other manufacturing software.  

It also includes links to Delcam’s international reseller network so that visitors can contact their local representative for further information.  Links are also included to many of Delcam’s technology partners that use FeatureCAM, including machine tool builders and cutting tool suppliers.

Visitors to the site can also see video demonstrations of key improvements to the latest version of the software, FeatureCAM 2012, to enable faster and easier programming, and generate more efficient toolpaths to give greater machine productivity.  Enhancements include greater use of keyboard shortcuts, easier toolpath editing, new strategies such as back boring and spiral roughing, increased use of stock models, and the ability to have a negative leave allowance (such as a fitting allowance) for turning or wire EDM.

For more information, visit: www.featurecam.com

Delcam’s PartMaker division has scheduled two user group meetings to update customers on the developments in PartMaker 2012, the latest version of its CAM system for turn-mill centres, bar-fed mills and Swiss-type lathes.

The first meeting will be held on January 26th at the Holiday Inn in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, close to the PartMaker headquarters, with the second on February 16th at the C&A Tool facility in Auburn, Indiana.  C&A Tool has been using PartMaker since 2001 and was recently named the "Best Job Shop in America”.

The main focus of the meetings will be the many developments in PartMaker 2012.  Major highlights of the release include improved visualisation, more powerful simulation of vertical and horizontal machining centres, support for the latest breed of multi-axis bar-fed mills, turn-mill centres and Swiss-type lathes, greater flexibility and control in process development and much, much more.

Details will also be presented on the latest version of the PowerSHAPE CAD companion for PartMaker, which includes functionality for creating solid models, data repair, editing part designs for manufacture, and for the design of machining accessories, such as tool holders and machine components.  The 2012 release includes a range of direct modeling options, to complement the existing solid and surface modeling capabilities.

At both meetings, senior technical personnel from PartMaker will be on hand to answer delegates’ technical questions, as well as to discuss the future of PartMaker’s development efforts and to listen to users’ input to incorporate into future versions.  A complimentary catered breakfast and lunch buffet will be provided to all registered attendees.

"We will encourage all our customers to attend these user meetings so that they can see why we are so excited about the release of PartMaker 2012.  It includes an array of new features and functionality that will benefit every user,” said PartMaker division President, Hanan Fishman.  "We are confident that PartMaker 2012 will help our customers to continue to ‘raise their game’ to stay ahead in an increasingly competitive manufacturing landscape.”

For more information, visit: www.partmaker.com/2012usergroup or www.partmaker.com/midwestusergroup

Delcam has launched a new web site for its PartMaker CAM system.  The site details the many benefits that have prompted thousands of users with sophisticated machine tools to select PartMaker for their programming needs.  

A key part of the new PartMaker site is a series of video testimonials from some of these customers.  Many of these companies are from the medical industry, the largest outlet for PartMaker, with others from aerospace, electronics, general engineering and contract manufacturing.  Similarly, they use a range of high-end machine tools from suppliers including Citizen, Star, Mazak, Nakamura-Tome, Tsugami, Doosan and Mori Seiki among others.  All, however, rely on PartMaker to produce complex, high-precision parts, with the shortest-possible set-up times and cycle times.

Visitors to the site can also obtain details and video demonstrations on the latest version of the software, PartMaker 2012.  Major highlights of the release include improved visualisation, more powerful simulation of vertical and horizontal machining centres, support for the latest breed of multi-axis bar-fed mills, turn-mill centres and Swiss-type lathes, greater flexibility and control in process development and much, much more.

The new PartMaker site features a modern, easy-to-navigate interface to allow visitors to find information relevant to their industry and machining application.  This new style follows the format of new websites being introduced for Delcam’s other manufacturing software.

It includes links to Delcam’s international reseller network so that visitors can contact their local representative for further information or to request an evaluation copy.

There are also links to many of Delcam’s technology partners, including machine tool builders and cutting tool suppliers.  Videos from recent exhibitions can be viewed where these companies have used Delcam software to program their demonstrations.

For more information, visit: www.partmaker.com

PartMaker Inc., a division of Delcam Plc, has released PartMaker Version 2012, the latest version of PartMaker Software for programming CNC Mills, Lathes, WireEDM, Turn-Mill Centers and Swiss-type. Major highlights of PartMaker Version 2012 includes a host new functionality across the entire suite of PartMaker applications including improved visualization, more powerful simulation of vertical and horizontal machining centers, support for the latest breed of multi-axis Bar-Fed Mills, Turn-Mill Centers and Swiss-type lathes, greater flexibility and control in process development and much, much more.

"PartMaker Version 2012 will help our customers continue to ‘raise their game’ to stay ahead in an increasingly competitive manufacturing landscape,” says Delcam’s PartMaker Inc. division President Hanan Fishman.  "PartMaker Version 2012 includes an array of new features and functionality that will benefit every PartMaker user.  There’s just so much for PartMaker users to be excited about with PartMaker Version 2012.”

Variable Depth Cylindrical Milling

PartMaker Version 2012 includes a new, powerful 3D surfacing strategy as an enhancement to the Surface Machining Wizard (SMW) module. This new strategy allows the user to perform 3D surface machining using cylindrical interpolation. This powerful, new rotary machining functionality allows for creation of more complicated part features for complex parts being made on 4-axis Mills, Turn-Mill Centers and Swiss-type lathes.

Simulation of B-Axis Gang Style Swiss-Type Lathes

PartMaker Version 2012 supports the simulation of the latest generation of Swiss-type lathes, those equipped with a programmable "B-Axis” on a gang slide. PartMaker Version 2012 will allow you to take advantage of the newest breed of B-axis enabled gang-style Swiss lathes, better understand the benefits of using B-axis gangs for their ability to add more live tooling in a single set-up and simulate and collision check complex 5-axis simultaneous tool paths. This improved simulation supports models from the leading Swiss-lathe builders offering machines with this unique architecture.

Full Machine Simulation for Milling

PartMaker Version 2012 extends the software’s powerful Full Machine Simulation technology to vertical and horizontal machining centers as part of the new Kinematic Milling Simulation (KMS) module. This new functionality in PartMaker Mill simulates the kinematic motion of a CNC Milling machine’s programmable axes. It supports 3, 4 and 5-axis vertical mills as well horizontal and vertical tombstone set-ups and provides more realistic simulation and more comprehensive collision detection.

Set-Up Assemblies for Milling

PartMaker Version 2012 features the ability to import fixture models into the PartMaker programming environment to simulate tool paths for vertical and horizontal milling machines in a more realistic manner and avoid collisions between tools and work holding. The new Set-Up Assembly Feature, part of the new Kinematic Milling Simulation (KMS) module, allows the user to quickly designate the various components Set-Up Assembly as a stock, fixture or machining table in a visual and intuitive manner. Fixture models can be imported from virtually any 3D CAD system or directly cut and paste from Delcam’s PowerSHAPE.

Multiple Process Drag and Drop Selection

PartMaker Version 2012 allows the user to optimize and rearrange machining processes faster and easier than ever before. The new version allows processes to be simply dragged and dropped into place on PartMaker’s Process Table. It also lets multiple processes be selected and moved at the same time, rather than having to move processes individually as was the case before.

Support for New Bar-Fed Mill and Multi-Axis Lathe Architectures

PartMaker Version 2012 supports a number of new, cutting-edge architectures found on today’s latest Bar-Fed Mill and Turn-Mill Center offerings. This new technology has been developed in concert with a number of the industry’s leading machine tool builders. It includes support for such unique machine tool architectures as the Star SF and Mori-Seiki NTX where the sub-spindle can work at articulated positions in addition to the articulation of these machines’ tool head in the B-axis plane.

Enhanced Tool Path Visualization and Control

PartMaker Version 2012 provides much improved visualization across the entire PartMaker applications suite. This enhanced visualization includes the ability to display a 3D model of the stock being machined at any time without having to import a solid model as well as the ability to see tool paths and tool path verification on a 3D stock model even when no 3D model is available. Doing so allows the user to see the part in 3D before going to machining simulation, speeding up programming and reducing the chance of error. Additionally, the visualization and creation of tool path Approach and Escape points have been improved by allowing these points to be quickly defined with convenient snap modes. Approach and Escape points can also be much more clearly visualized after creation in PartMaker Version 2012.

Additional Productivity Enhancements

In addition to the improvements mentioned above, PartMaker Version 2012 includes a host of other productivity enhancements including the abilitity to directly output PartMaker’s graphical set-up sheets to Microsoft Excel, a  direct Copy/Paste functionality from PowerSHAPE, 64 Bit version availability, tapered Thread Milling support, improved, more robust network licensing, more flexible sub-spindle control for twin spindle machines, improved CAD data translation, crisper rendering of imported solid models and improved 4 and 5 axis milling table definition.

For more information, visit: www.delcam.tv/pmk2012/lz/en/index.html

Delcam has launched a new dedicated website, for its manufacturing services subsidiary, Delcam Professional Services Ltd.  This is the latest stage in the current expansion under way for its process development and prototype manufacturing activities.

The primary focus of DPS continues to be working with clients, mainly in the aerospace and power generation industries, to improve their manufacturing processes by increasing productivity, improving accuracy and shortening lead times.  In particular, this is achieved through the use of adaptive machining, Delcam’s unique combination of machining and inspection technology.

Services described on the web site vary from the provision of extra design and programming resources when the customer’s existing staff are overloaded, through to developing completely new turn-key processes for the production of novel designs, including the manufacture of prototypes or initial production runs.  These services are attracting increased demand as many companies now find that their engineering resource is needed to maintain their on-going operations, leaving them limited capacity to introduce new products and develop new processes.

For more information, visit: www.delcam-services.com

Thursday, 17 November 2011 10:44

Delcam webinar on CAD partner for PartMaker CAM

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Delcam’s PartMaker Division is to host an introductory webinar on its modeling partner product for the PartMaker CAM system for turn-mill equipment and Swiss-type lathes.  The webinar will begin at 1:00 EST on Friday 2nd December and will cover creating 3D solid models from 2D drawings, design for manufacturability and repair of 3D data for use in manufacturing.

The PowerSHAPE Companion for PartMaker is based on Delcam’s PowerSHAPE design software, which is used at thousands of subcontractors and toolmakers around the world alongside Delcam’s PowerMILL CAM system for high-speed and five-axis machining.  It includes functionality for creating solid models, data repair, editing part designs for manufacture, and for the design of machining accessories, such as tool holders and machine components.

Like the PartMaker CAM suite, the PowerSHAPE Companion for PartMaker is based on the Parasolid solid modeling kernel, assuring interoperability with both PartMaker and all other major CADCAM systems.

The data repair functionality in the PowerSHAPE Companion for PartMaker includes PowerSHAPE’s Solid Doctor.  This allows users to read in, and repair, models from all sources, including standard formats like IGES and STEP, plus native files, such as CATIA, Siemens NX and Pro/Engineer, and output a file that can be read directly into PartMaker.

With the Solid Doctor, PartMaker users can 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 solid model ready for programming.

Once the design has been imported, the PowerSHAPE Companion for PartMaker is able to modify any aspects of the part that might cause difficulties in manufacturing.  These could include adding chamfers to avoid secondary operations like de-burring, or adjusting or removing fillets that could add machining time and cost to a project.  The same tools can also be used to generate any extra geometry needed for machining.

For companies that receive designs as 2D drawings, the PowerSHAPE Companion for PartMaker can create 3D solid models from that data.  Additionally, the modeling tools can also be used in conjunction with PartMaker’s Full Machine Simulation module to design machine components such as turrets, gang slides or custom tool holders.

Registration forms and full details are at: www.partmaker.com/general/webinars.asp?webinarId=28

Delcam has added a range of direct modeling options to the 2012 release of its PowerSHAPE CAD software.  Unlike other programs that have incorporated direct modeling 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 moulds and other types of tooling.

"The direct modeling functionality that we have added will enable tooling designers to tackle all the common problems that they find in product designs, such as insufficient draft or inappropriate fillet sizes,” claimed PowerSHAPE Development Manager, Ian Watkins.  "It is faster to use direct modeling than surface modeling and so can shorten the overall time needed to produce the tools.  In addition, we have made the new options as accessible as possible by enhancing existing commands rather than grouping them in a separate area of the software.”

"Together with the extensive data translation and data repair options already available in PowerSHAPE, the addition of direct modeling gives a unique range of capabilities to tooling designers, whether they are working with moulds, press tools or die-casting equipment.”

Many product designers still produce designs with insufficient draft, making it impossible to remove the as-designed part from its tooling, so the ability to add draft to solid models is expected to be one of the most popular options.  This can be done either by using a specific value or by modifying the model interactively.  The change can be applied to a single surface or to a group of surfaces, such as the sides of a pocket.  In the latter case, the software is intelligent enough to maintain the radii of any fillets linking the sides.

Another common problem for the toolmaker is the use of impractical fillet sizes by designers.  Small fillets require extra machining time so they extend delivery times and increase costs.  In addition, they can restrict the flow of material in moulds or dies, so increasing processing times and pressures.

PowerSHAPE can use direct modelling to identify fillets within imported geometry, even when the modelling history has been lost.  They can then be replaced with new fillets having more suitable radii.

Material flow problems can also occur when the thickness of items like reinforcing ribs is not sufficiently high.  Again, PowerSHAPE can be used to modify the design, either by a specific value or interactively.

The same thickness modification option can be used to add machining allowances before manufacturing, for example when adding material to the split surfaces of a mould or when offsetting surfaces to create electrode designs from tooling designs.

Other features that can be identified within "dumb” geometry include holes, pockets, cuts and bosses.  Intelligent manufacturing information can be added to the features and passed to Delcam’s PowerMILL CAM system.  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.

Full details, including video demonstrations of the new functionality plus the ability to download an evaluation version, are on the PowerSHAPE 2012 Learning Zone at: www.delcam.tv/ps2012/lz/en/index.html

Delcam has launched a new dedicated website for its ArtCAM family of artistic CADCAM software.  The site contains details on the various applications where ArtCAM is used and highlights the many business benefits of using the software.  Visitors can download free trial versions of the software so they can test it on their own designs.

The software range comprises the low-cost, entry-level version, ArtCAM Express, for users new to CNC machining, ArtCAM Insignia for production machining and ArtCAM Pro for more complex design and manufacturing projects, plus the ArtCAM JewelSmith edition for the jewellery industry.

The programs make it easy to produce sophisticated designs from all types of 2D artwork, even for people that have no previous experience of engineering software.  They enable anyone with creative flair, such as artists, designers and engravers, to increase their productivity and raise the quality of their products, by using computerised manufacturing techniques alongside their traditional skills.  The software is used successfully in a wide range of industries, including signmaking, furniture manufacture and other types of woodworking, engraving of foil and embossing dies for paper and card, production of coins and medals, and the manufacture of all types of jewellery.

The website includes full details on the complete ArtCAM range, an image gallery featuring customer projects, answers to frequently-asked questions, and links to machine tool partners and other suppliers of interest to ArtCAM users.  The site also features a large number of videos, including demonstrations of the various applications of the software and customer testimonials from a number of users.

For more information, visit: www.artcam.com

Today’s jobs situation seems to be a tail of two markets. On one hand, nationwide unemployment is hovering near record highs at over 9%. On the other hand, advanced CNC manufacturers are having a hard time finding the skilled help they need to meet customer demands in the face of increased part complexity, reduced lot sizes and shorter lead times.  While many leading trade magazines tout the benefits of multi-tasking Turn-Mill Centers and Swiss-type lathes, actual end users of these machines are finding harder and harder to find the skilled personnel to take advantage of the productivity benefits these machines have to offer.

“Catch phrases like ‘done in one’, ‘dropping the part complete’ and ‘one hit machining’ are becoming more and more common in the industry,” says PartMaker Inc. division President Hanan Fishman.  “However, while the machines capable of achieving these results are becoming more common place, the skills to take advantage of the unique benefits multi-tasking equipment are becoming harder to find. As a result, we here at PartMaker are bringing our unique resources to help manufacturers get more out of their multi-tasking Turn-Mill Centers and Swiss-type lathes by offering our training services for free or at reduced cost.”

The PartMaker Inc. division of Delcam Plc wants to do all it can to help close this skills gap by offering free or reduced cost training on its software. Free classroom training for one student will be provided to any new or existing customer ordering over $10,000 worth of software.  For customers only wish to be trained, PartMaker Inc. will offer a 20% discount to its standard training rates.  To take advantage of this offer, customers need only place their order in 2011, but can actually take the training in 2012 if they wish.

Training on PartMaker CAM software for multi-axis Turn-Mill and Swiss applications is as unique as the software itself.  Training classes are specifically focused on the issues related to multi-axis turning.  All classes are taught by PartMaker’s application engineers, engineers with decades of combined experience in CAD/CAM applications and practical CNC programming.

For more information, visit: www.partmaker.com

Triangle Tool Corp. has strategically positioned itself as a leader in moulds for large plastic parts and has always used Delcam’s PowerSHAPE CAD system and PowerMILL CAM software exclusively.  When the company added large-part machining to its repertoire of services, Triangle once again put Delcam to the test, and the software supplier passed with flying colours.

Triangle Tool is a 130-employee company in Milwaukee that produces moulds of all types for many of the country’s most recognisable names in home appliances, agriculture, consumer products and returnable packaging.  It also manufactures custom components, castings and forgings for the aerospace, energy and transportation industries.

To meet the demands of its customers, Triangle Tool has made capital investments in machinery and space.  The company purchases new machines on an annual basis to ensure it has the latest technology, to improve its efficiency and to meet market needs.

"Because we have specialised in large products, it is common for steel blocks or forgings to weigh greater than twenty-five tons and need multiple, precision operations for each piece,” explained Daniel Gouge, Triangle Tool’s Technical Sales Engineer.  "Most companies would find this type of work intimidating but Triangle Tool has specialised in large parts to become one of Wisconsin’s strongest businesses.  Not many companies have the capability to handle twenty such pieces at once but this is commonplace for us.”

Using PowerMILL and PowerSHAPE has played a vital role in the company’s new specialty-machining niche.  "We have used Delcam software for years because of the company’s commitment to innovation and to the optimisation of the machining process,” stated Triangle Engineering Manager, Mark Pitzen.  "Every mould, forging or casting that Triangle Tool machines is fully programmed, paths verified and machined using Delcam products.  For our specialty-machining business, we use Delcam to program all of the intricate shapes and details. The versatility for both sides of our business has been instrumental in us being competitive and winning work.”

Mr. Pitzen pointed out that, years ago, a mouldmaker would have to have multiple CAM systems in-house to handle different jobs but this isn’t the case with Delcam. "Delcam has perfected its product to the point where there isn’t anything we can’t machine with efficient cutter paths,” he noted.  "Because it is so capable, we don’t have the additional costs of having other CAM systems in-house.  The learning curve is minimal with the software.  Many shops won’t make the investment in a do-it-all software, but we did and Delcam makes programming and machining very cost-effective.”

"When we started our specialty-machining division, we didn’t know if we needed additional CAM capabilities,” Mr. Pitzen continued.  "Delcam told us to put the software to the test and the systems have excelled in all areas of machining of castings, forgings and other components.”

"Anyone can buy a five-axis machine but, if your software is limiting your ability to maximise the productivity of the machine, the investment won’t be worth it,” Mr. Pitzen explained.  "Because Delcam was with us early on in the five-axis era, we have been able to test the software and provide feedback.  Delcam has been responsive to any areas where we saw potential for improvements and made the necessary upgrades to help us machine more efficiently.  These regular updates make the product the most robust in the machining industry.”

For more information, visit: www.triangletoolcorp.com or www.delcam.com

Delcam has launched the 2012 version of Delcam for SolidWorks, the integrated CAM system for SolidWorks, which includes programming of 2D wire EDM for the first time alongside the comprehensive options for the programming of turning, mill-turn, drilling and two- through five-axis milling.  Four-axis wire functionality is planned for the 2012 R2 release, due in January 2012.

Other enhancements include target-part comparison, the ability to compare a model of the desired final shape with the shape achieved by the programmed toolpaths, and multiple-instance programming, the programming of multiple SolidWorks components in one operation, either in the same orientation or in different orientations.

Fully-automated de-burring and chamfering has also been added to give faster programming of these finishing operations on 2- or 2.5-axis parts.  The ability to incorporate chamfers, even when they are not shown in the original SolidWorks model, duplicates functionality previously available in Delcam’s feature-based CAM system, FeatureCAM.

Delcam for SolidWorks 2012 also incorporates enhancements from the 2012 release of FeatureCAM, including improvements in the use of stock models and new options in the tooling database.

Stock models allow the user to visualise the material remaining after each operation.  This makes it easier to eliminate air cutting and so generate more efficient toolpaths with reduced machining times.  The models also simplify the selection of the most appropriate tool sizes for rest-roughing and finishing operations.

The tooling database is a key part of the automation in Delcam for SolidWorks as it allows the optimum operating conditions to be associated with each tool.  In most companies, the database is developed by the most experienced user.  It then ensures that even inexperienced operators use safe and efficient cutting parameters.

Delcam for SolidWorks combines the benefits associated with Delcam’s PowerMILL and FeatureCAM CAM systems.  It is based on Delcam’s proven machining algorithms that are already used by more than 35,000 customers around the world.  The software offers PowerMILL’s exceptional speed of toolpath calculation, plus the advanced strategies for high-speed and five-axis machining, to ensure increased productivity, maximum tool life and immaculate surface finish, even when cutting the hardest, most challenging materials.  At the same time, Delcam for SolidWorks has the same strong focus on ease of use as FeatureCAM, including all of the knowledge-based automation that makes that system so consistent and reliable.

Delcam for SolidWorks is fully integrated into the SolidWorks environment so that the program looks and behaves like SolidWorks.  It offers full associativity so that any changes in the CAD model are reflected automatically in the toolpaths.  However, this associativity is more intelligent than that offered in many other integrated CAM systems.  Delcam for SolidWorks doesn’t simply modify the existing toolpaths but also reviews the choice of cutting tools and machining strategies, and changes them if necessary.

For more information, visit: www.delcam.tv/dfs2012/lz/en/index.html

Changing to Delcam’s FeatureCAM feature-based CAM software has helped Lion Engineering make a success of a major expansion in its machining capacity.  The company has invested over £1 million in Mazak machine tools during the past eighteen months but only achieved the increased productivity that the new equipment was expected to deliver when it replaced its previous CAM system with FeatureCAM.

Lion Engineering primarily manufactures components for the onshore/offshore drilling industry; it produces many different types of products for down-hole drilling and production equipment.  Lion also specialises in applying hard-facing treatments and welding services to help reduce wear in abrasive conditions.

Director Martin Brown, who joined the company in 1972 and took part in a management buy-out from the previous owners in 1985, explained that working for the petrochemical industry could be very demanding with the standards and expectations being extremely high.  "We are as busy now as I have ever known it since joining the company,” he claimed.  "During the last downturn, stocks of parts were run down and these now need to be replaced; whilst activities in the industry remains at the higher level so shall the demands on our services.”

"There has been a dramatic change in the industry over the last ten years,” he added.  "As new technology and the price of oil have increased, it has become economic to drill deeper wells in more harsh environments.  This has both increased the demands on the equipment we supply and made the costs of any failure even higher.”

Lion Engineering first moved into CAM four years ago when it increased its milling capacity and acquired a CME four-axis milling centre.  The company tried various CAM systems but was never completely satisfied with the software or the support staff.  "They never seemed to have the knowledge and experience we needed,” said Mr. Brown.

"Problems with the software were affecting our ability to deliver parts as quickly as our customers demanded,” he remembered.  "Quite rightly, they weren’t interested in the shortcomings of our programming system.  They wanted to be using the equipment, not listening to excuses over our delivery times.”

The need for a change was highlighted even more after Lion Engineering invested over £1 million in new Mazak machine tools, including an Integrex e-500 mill-turn, a VTC-800 five-axis mill, a VTC-300 four-axis mill and  Nexus three-axis lathe with live tooling.  The existing CAM system didn’t have post-processors for the new equipment.  In addition, it couldn’t program the helical milling operations needed to produce critical features that keep the components stable in use.

"Once the decision to change had been made we immediately began to look at other CAM providers including seeking references from some of our sub-contractors who had experience with Delcam,” said Mr Brown.  "We bought FeatureCAM two years ago, and have found both the software and the support to be really good.”

Machinist and programmer Neil Boags had struggled with the previous CAM system for his first year at Lion Engineering and couldn’t believe how much easier and more reliable FeatureCAM was.  "It just worked!” he said.  "I was new to CAM when I came to Lion as I had only used programming on the control at my previous company.  The support I received from the Delcam staff was excellent.  They helped me work around any problems I had and were able to undertake some minor changes to the post-processors to get the machines running exactly as we wanted.”

"FeatureCAM gives us the high-quality surface finish we need for our specialist surface treatments,” added Mr Brown.  "Our integrated machining and surface finishing service is one of the most important reasons why our customers prefer to use us.  We need to deliver the highest quality at every stage to satisfy some very demanding clients.”  

The original reason for the major investment was to enable a diversification away from the oil industry.  However, high demand from old and new customers in the sector has meant that most of the new capacity was quickly taken up.  Mr. Brown still feels that a broader client base will be needed in the long term.  He is already looking into a further expansion in capacity and has applied for planning permission to add another new building for the company’s next stage of development.

For more information, visit: www.featurecam.com or www.lioneng.com

Delcam is looking to increase its international sales team to continue its strong growth.  The company achieved record sales in the first half of this year, continuing a trend which has seen it set new record sales levels in each of the last three six-month periods.  The level of enquiries has increased still further following the launch of new versions of its range of CAM software at the EMO World of Metalworking exhibition last month.

"We are always on the lookout for experienced sales people with a background in machining software or equipment,” commented Delcam’s Commercial Director, Bart Simpson.  "However, our need for extra staff has now become even more important.  The increased interest in our software and services, driven by our customers’ desire to improve their productivity with our unique solutions, means we need to add more staff to satisfy this ever growing demand.  We are especially keen to add more people for the sales teams in our subsidiaries in Germany, France, Italy, Poland, USA, China, India, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, as well as in the UK.”

Over the past three years, Delcam has been able to take advantage of the continuing recovery in global manufacturing to increase both the sales of new software licences and the take-up of maintenance contracts, especially in the automotive and aerospace industries.  It has also seen strong growth in its healthcare and footwear businesses.  However, Mr. Simpson feels that the company could have achieved even more if it had been able to recruit additional experienced sales people.

For more information, visit: www.delcam.com/general/about/jobs.asp

Delcam has launched a new web site for its PowerINSPECT CAD-based inspection software.  The site details the many benefits that have made PowerINSPECT the world’s leading hardware-independent inspection software.

One of the most important factors has been the flexibility of the software allowing it to be used on a wide variety of inspection equipment.  While PowerINSPECT is best known as the leading system for portable inspection arms, it can also be used with manual and CNC coordinate measuring machines, many optical metrology devices and machine tools fitted with inspection probes.

This versatility means that PowerINSPECT can be used on all of a company’s different measuring devices, allowing inspection sequences to be transferred between different inspection pieces of equipment and the results from the various sources to be compared quickly and easily.  It also minimises training costs and makes it easier to transfer staff between different measurement techniques.

Another key benefit of PowerINSPECT is the speed and quality of its reporting.  Results are displayed on a CAD model of the part as they are taken, highlighting any errors immediately and allowing extra measurements to be made in any areas of concern.  The early detection of errors means that they can be corrected more quickly and at lower cost.

PowerINSPECT reports are quick and easy to create, and the content and layout can be modified to meet the needs of the project or customer.  They are laid out in an easy-to-understand format, meaning that they can be understood by any engineer, not just metrology specialists.

PowerINSPECT users also benefit from technology developed for Delcam’s range of other manufacturing software.  For example, the data translation used in PowerINSPECT has been developed as part of Delcam’s overall manufacturing solution for many years.  It is recognised to be the market leader in terms of speed and accuracy of translation.

Similarly, PowerINSPECT benefits from sharing technology with Delcam’s PowerMILL CAM software.  The simulation and collision detection algorithms developed for PowerMILL have been adapted for PowerINSPECT to prevent collisions and to allow users to simulate programs on the computer before transferring them to the measuring device.  In addition, raster machining routines from PowerMILL have formed the basis for the automatic generation of inspection sequences in PowerINSPECT.

The PowerINSPECT site includes links to Delcam’s international reseller network so that visitors can contact their local representative for further information or to request an evaluation copy.  It is currently available only in English but translated sites are being prepared by Delcam’s many subsidiaries in Europe and Asia.

For more information, visit: www.powerinspect.com

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