TopSolid

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Mill turn machines (or multifunction machines) are increasingly used in today’s manufacturing plants. The reason behind the success of these machines is evident - their capacity to combine milling and turning operations and thereby machine complex parts in just 1 operation considerably reduces preparation times. Often long preparation times lead to high costs especially in the production of small series. In addition mill turn machining guarantees higher precision machining as it is not necessary to machine the part in several operations which implies less handling of the part during the different machining stages. These 2 factors offer a competitive advantage for many small sub-contractors who manufacture very complex, high precision parts in small series of 1-100 parts.

The difficulty to program Mill turn machines

Mill turn machines are often very difficult and complex to program. The multitude of tool turrets, holding fixtures and the complex kinematics of the machine must all be managed by a CAD/CAM software. Mill turn machines are expensive (€250,000 - €500,000 or more), their implementation is complicated and and in many cases these machines need to work 24h a day so that the investment is profitable. The slightest time loss when implementing and using these machines can result in huge financial losses. In other words the machining program must work from the outset!

It is therefore necessary for a company thinking of investing in such a machine to be equipped with a CAD/CAM solution capable of programming all machining processes: turning, 2 axes milling, 3 axis milling, 4 & 5 axis continued milling, 4 & 5 axis continued turning, synchronization and complex simulation. It is also essential to work with a software that is capable of simulating, in a realistic manner, what happens on the machine in order to reduce implementation times, prevent collisions, optimize cycle times, etc.

Strong turning competencies necessary

One of the key competencies of a CAD/CAM software for multifunction machining is its capacity to manage milling and turning. The majority of software solutions on the market today offer very strong milling strategies but are less competent in turning. Missler Software in fact developed very strong experience in turning from early on and today is one of the leading providers of CAD/CAM software for turning strategies. Many TopSolid customers chose TopSolid’Cam because of its strong turning capacities.

With TopSolid’Cam turning operations are carried out as easily as milling cycles. The part is put on a virtual machine and the software proposes adapted machining cycles. In addition, TopSolid’Cam indicates which operations can and cannot be carried out with the chosen machine. This differentiates TopSolid’Cam from other software solutions which do not have integrated simulation capacities. According to Jean-Pierre Lugarini, CAM Development Manager for Missler Software “TopSolid’Cam does not simulate a machine like in some software solutions, it programs a virtual machine which thereby enables the operator to verify and control the tool path during programming.” Another strong point of the software is the possibility to manage the stock so that all machining operations take into account the correct stock model.

Key functions in TopSolid’Cam to program Mill turn machines

We have already seen that the CAD/CAM software must be complete in order to program mill turn machines. Below is a list of other essential features a CAD/CAM software must have to successful program these machines:

* Stock management – It is impossible to program a mill turn machine without excellent and real time stock management. With TopSolid’Cam tool paths are calculated for each machining operation based on the stock left behind after previous operations. (It is important not to confuse “stock management” with “machine simulation with material removal”).

* Machine kinematics – TopSolid’Cam’s kinematic engine enables assembly simulation of the machine based on CAD files provided by the machine-tool manufacturer or made using TopSolid’Design (or any other CAD software).

* Simulation and collision management – Thanks to its kinematic engine TopSolid’Cam anticipates collisions and automatically modifies the orientation of tool angles to avoid all collisions between the machine, the tool turret, the holding fixture and the part. In cases where collisions cannot be avoided TopSolid’Cam will not permit the machining of tool paths which cause these collisions.

* Chronogram – The chronogram allows the synchronization of operations which need to be carried out simultaneously. The operator can have a direct input on cutting conditions and operation positions in order to optimize the manufacturing sequence.

* Tool data base - Tool modeling is very important and may be considered as being as important as machine modeling. In order to generate correct simulation results all tools used need to be represented as accurately and realistically as possible. All operators should be able to represent their tool and tool paths in the CAM software. TopSolid’Tool offers a good tool database and responds to the needs of most TopSolid’Cam users. For more detailed tool databases Missler Software has developed interfaces with external databases such as Gedix, Tool Expert and Walter TDM.

* Topological analysis

* Ergonomy

In order to really get the most out of your mill turn machine you need to reunite the following criteria: trained and skilled staff, a well-adapted CAD/CAM software capable of simulating machining operations, good support from the CAM developer who is familiar with the machine tools on the market and is capable of using this knowledge in the software and post-processors that worl. A company that is capable of meeting all of these criteria will benefit from important productivity gains, especially for the machining of complex parts in small series.

For more information, visit: www.topsolid.com

Missler Software is the number one provider of CAM solutions to aerospace sub-contractors in France. With such references as Turbomeca, Sagem, MBDA, Mecachrome, Airbus Cimpa... TopSolid’Cam is widely recognised as the leading CAM solution in this field.

TopSolid'Cam is the CAD/CAM solution chosen by many aerospace companies thanks to its capacity to respond to the specific demands of this sector: high quality and reliability as well as the need to reduce production costs. Discover TopSolid’Cam at the Bourget, Hall 4, Stand EF125.

Here are some of TopSolid’Cam’s key functions which enable aerospace sub-contractors machine parts more quickly and with increased precision:

* Cycles dedicated to parts with thin walls
Pockets, commonly found in aerospace parts, often have very thin and fragile walls. TopSolid’Cam 2011 allows the operator to carry out finishing operations on these walls using Z level cycles regardless of the pocket depth. Such cycles help prevent unnecessary weakening of the already thin walls and reduce significantly programming times.  In addition multi-pocketing allows the automatic running of processes on faces detected and selected by the operator which enables faster machining times.

* Stock management
TopSolid’Cam has real time stock management functions that enable the software to know, at all times, the condition of the stock before each machining operation. Thanks to this powerful function within TopSolid’Cam tool paths are calculated for each machining operation based on the stock left behind after previous operations. This material management technique is especially effective when making changes to the machining procedure by removing or reversing operations. If the condition of the stock changes because an operation is withdrawn, the following operation is automatically modified. TopSolid’Cam’s stock management function is a key function for all TopSolid’Cam users. Nowhere is this function more important than in the aerospace field where parts and productions plans are often changed so it is essential that TopSolid’Cam manages the stock.

* HSM dedicated cycles (High Speed machining)
TopSolid’Cam proposes a broad range of machining strategies designed to reduce machining times, while producing almost perfect surfaces. To facilitate HSM techniques all tool paths are created by adding connecting radius and passes of various shapes. The use of trochoidal passes ensures a constant force on the tool and optimal cutting conditions. TopSolid’Cam’s HSM application anticipates the forward movement changes in advance in the angular areas of the part and slow down or accelerate the machining if necessary. It is also possible to use B-Splines in the ISO code to facilitate the free flow of the tool path that will be read by the numerical control. HSM machines often need a maximum of information to optimize their operations. TopSolid’Cam is capable of performing complex calculations at an incredible speed. These algorithms, which are usually long and require a lot ofresources, are parallelized in order to make the most of today’s multi-core processors. This allows the machine to be optimized.

* 5 axis roll machining of surfaces that cannot be developed
Aerospace parts are often manufactured using a different CAD/CAM software to the one used to design the parts. As we know many of these parts are very complex. TopSolid’Cam uses powerful algorithms that are capable, for example, of roll machining a warped surface, even if it cannot be developed. TopSolid’Cam’s powerful algorithms enable an optimization of the speed and precision of the machining process. The aerospace sub-contractor reduces thus production times while guaranteeing high quality, correctly toleranced parts.

* Machining of composite materials for longer tool life
TopSolid’Cam proposes sinusoidal movements which mean that tool wear is equal throughout the entire length of the tool. This function is very important in the cutting of carbon fibre parts, which are notably used in the aerospace industry. Carbon fibre is a highly abrasive material and is machined by milling machines equipped with diamond-tipped or very hard metal tools which are very expensive. When the length of the tool is longer than the depth of the material to be machined (which is the case in aerospace parts) it is common sense to try to use the rest of the tool. Such sinusoidal movements offered by TopSolid’Cam prolong thus the lifespan of these tools and thereby generate cost savings.

* Programing of mill turn machines (multifunction)
The use of mill turn machines is widespread in the aerospace field to machine complex parts. TopSolid’Cam is recognized as being a leader in the programming of these machines. In order to program a mill turn machines a CAD/CAM software capable of programming all machining processes: turning, 2 axes milling, 3 axis milling, 4 & 5 axis continued milling, 4 & 5 axis continued turning, synchronization and complex simulation. It is also essential to work with a software that is capable of simulating, in a realistic manner, what happens on the machine in order to reduce implementation times, prevent collisions, optimize cycle times, etc. Thanks to its unique position on the market of being able to manage (in 1 software solution) turning, 2, 3, 4 and 5 axis positioned and continuous milling as well as its very close relations with multifunction machine manufacturers TopSolid’Cam is today recognised as being the leader in the programming of mill turn machines.

* Knowledge and management of machine kinematics
TopSolid’Cam offers the possibility to conceptualize or import machine tool models used in the manufacturing plant.  The geometric definition of these machines enables a perfect simulation of what happens during machining. The kinematic engine used is TopSolid’s CAD kernel, the same as used by certain machine tool manufacturers. The tool path verification is based on the complete machine kinematics, its precise dimensions, its capacities and its courses. Unlike many CAM solutions on the market today, TopSolid’Cam does not only simulate the tool but also the machine, the part and the complete machining environment. Such a high-performance simulation enables the operator to control and verify movements in all directions and to visualize the behaviour of the tools, tool holder and the complete machine environment and all potential collisions are highlighted graphically.

* Collision management
In several cases in 5 axis continuous machining it is possible to avoid collisions by the angle orientation of the tools which staying in contact with the tool. Thanks to its kinematic engine TopSolid’Cam automatically modifies the orientation of tool angles to avoid all collisions between the machine, the tool turret, the holding fixture and the part. In cases where collisions cannot be avoided TopSolid’Cam will not permit the machining of tool paths which cause these collisions.

* Machine replacement
5 axes continuous machines are regularly used in the aerospace industry. TopSolid’Cam 2011 enables its users to replace the machine being used with another - there are no limitations concerning the new machine or its kinematics. This new function offers huge time gains for workshop managers who can, for example, replace a Mill Turn machine with a lathe or a milling machine, an underused 5 axis machine with a 3 axis machine, etc. In addition the possibility to change machine offers great flexibility to fully exploit the potential of all machines present in the workshop.

* Automatic loading/positioning
Aerospace parts are often very complex. It is important to know if a part can be machined on a given part. TopSolid’Cam advises which areas of the part cannot be machined on the machie selected by the operator.

For more information, visit: www.topsolid.com or www.paris-air-show.com

Monday, 02 May 2011 11:37

TopSolid'Mold 2011

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Missler Software has announced the launch of TopSolid’Mold 2011 which has been released this month. TopSolid’Mold is an integrated CAD/CAM solution for the design of molds and the machining of tools for mold makers and cutting tool makers. To be efficient a CAD mold making solution should propose increased automation for repetitive mold design operations. In order to manage all projects the CAD software should ideally be completely integrated with a CAD/CAM solution that can manage all shaped forms, general mechanical engineering and machining operations in a parametric and associative way. Thanks to these qualities TopSolid’Mold has become a worldwide reference in the design and manufacture of molds.

TopSolid’Mold manages the design of the mold, the machining of the mold base, milling mold cavities, electrode production and mold assembly.

Missler Software has taken manufacturing constraints and imperatives into account when developing TopSolid’Mold and the 2011 new functions and improvements of the version have clearly an eye on manufacturing. TopSolid’Mold 2011 offers improved functions such as a more intuitive ergonomy, improved cavity block management, plastic injection simulation and a complete solution for the design and manufacturing of electrodes.

Simplified ergonomy

TopSolid’Mold has numerous management tools aimed to simplify a moldmaker’s life. The ergonomy of these functions has been worked on and simplified by offering intuitive shortcuts. Mold visualization is now, for example, available via a quick mold visualization icon which allows the user to quickly see his study without having to juggle between several windows. The link to the shortcuts is direct which offers instantaneous management and increased productivity. Neutral mode management for mold elements is now also possible.

Cavity block creation

The design of cavity block elements demands precision and perfect control. New surface tools dedicated to tool makers are now directly available in TopSolid’Design which offer flexibility and control in your design work from the design of parting surfaces to insert design and repairing imported data in TopSolid’Design. Not only do these new tools offer a more simplified and efficient management, the new “angled” parting surface function is the ideal extension of existing TopSolid’Mold tools.

Design… and simulation

A mold maker needs to validate his design before the manufacturing stage. The direct link from TopSolid to the Cadmould software from Simcon offers TopSolid’Mold users an optimised tool for the design of plastic parts and can be used as a first step in determining the feasibility, quality and cost of designing their parts and injection molds. The TopSolid’Mold operator can now analyse the part(s) to be injected as well as the various feeding elements: the runners, gates and the injection sections are automatically transferred to and recognized by Cadmould which manages the simulation of the injection process. Cadmould gives the results of your simulation analysis and validates or offers alternatives options to the design and technological choices you opted for in TopSolid’Mold.

TopSolid’Electrode

TopSolid’Electrode is an essential tool for mold makers who need to design and build electrodes. The 2011 version offers various strategies to detect and find the zones that need to be eroded. Depending on the electrode design strategy you choose (pocket detection with or without fillets, ribs) the software highlights zones that are difficult to machine and may be subject to the creation of an electrode. You can quickly and easily create your electrodes thanks to the association with surface modeling. TopSolid’Electrode manages standard or customizable electrode stock libraries. The storage of all your electrodes in independent files is essential for the efficient preparation of your electrodes for manufacturing and overall better machining management (automatic gap recognition).

For more information visit: www.topsolid.com

TopSolid 7.5, the latest version of the TopSolid integrated CAD/CAM solution has been launched at the beginning of this month. The key characteristics of the TopSolid 7 CAD solution are:

* Significant performance benefits - The end user of the new software generation benefits from productivity gains estimated at being 30% superior to traditional solutions thanks to such characteristics as partial loading and very fast realistic rendering.
* Built-in Product Data Management (PDM) – All data management actions are carried out directly in TopSolid (rename, move, copy/paste, …) and data is shared and secured transparently (guaranteed data integrity, PDM messenger, …)
* FreeShape – A new concept to TopSolid which implies that users do not need a history tree to edit imported parts

Let’s take a look at some of the major improvements in the 7.5 version:


The « toleranced » part

Thanks to this new function TopSolid 7.5 generates parts ready to be manufactured from the initial part designed by the R&D Department without having to completely redesign the part.

In fact several modifications have to be made to designed parts before manufacturing can happen. This is to ensure that manufacturing constraints, such as using the correct tolerances, are respected. Missler Software is a software developer that takes into account manufacturing imperatives throughout the entire product development lifecycle and does not only worry about managing the CAD definition of the part. The French software developer’s philosophy of offering a complete solution right up to and including the actual programming of the machine tool means that manufacturing considerations are taken into account in the CAD stage.

Today’s Methods Department often has to completely redesign parts which will be manufactured. This obviously leads to huge time losses and repeat data entry. TopSolid 7.5 eliminates this unnecessary step by taking such manufacturing imperatives as constraints into account from the beginning. Not only can TopSolid 7.5 apply the correct tolerances to parts designed using TopSolid but it can also manage tolerances for imported parts designed using another CAD software (thanks to the FreeShape function)


Workflow

TopSolid 7.5 offers operators a solution to manage approval cycles when a change happens at any stage throughout the lifecycle (this function is called Workflow in TopSolid). The Workflow functions are directly integrated in TopSolid 7.5 and are completely transparent for the user. There is, therefore, no need to work with an external workflow application. TopSolid 7.5 offers facilitated automation of the approval process which reduces the risk of errors being made and improves efficiency and communication within the company.


Complete 2D draft

Missler Software understands the importance of having complete and detailed 2D plans and does not consider that 2D drafts are something of the past in today‘s 3D world. We all know that contracts are still signed based on 2D plans.

Today’s manufacturing companies still need to make impressive 2D draft documents which are complete and meet industry standards without having to use an external 2D application. For this reason improved draft creation is one of the key improvements in TopSolid 7.5. Here are just some of the key draft improvements in the 7.5 version:

* Cartesian dimensions
* Automatic dimensions and annotations
* Table and split table creation


Piping module

Machine designers often need to design pipelines and may, from time to time, have to connect piping elements, use components such as elbows, tubes etc. and generate 3D piping views and BOMs for manufacturing. TopSolid 7.5 offers many improvements and new piping functions including the possibility to manage multiple unfolding. This new functions generates significant time gains for the R&D Department who can now automatically generate and manage all unfolding from the assembly stage.

For more information visit: www.topsolid.com

Missler Software will launch the latest version of its Cam software solution, TopSolid’Cam 2011 this month. TopSolid’Cam is a Cam solution which calculates tool paths for numerically controlled machines including milling machines, lathes and machining centres. The latest version of TopSolid’Cam has many new functions for all its customers with a special focus on the tool making and the aerospace industries. TopSolid’Cam 2011 promises excellent part surface quality and unbeatable machining times thanks to such new functions as morphing, machine replacement, Z level helical machining and Z level finishing cycles.


Morphing

Morphing is a 3D operation which creates a tool path on a part (without any underdraft) from 2 curves (opened or closed). The idea is to deform the exterior curve right into the interior curve by using, where desired and/or required, intermediary curves. The resulting tool path is one continuous helical tool path that maintains scallop height as it goes.  This means that there is only one entry move and one exit move. This new function in TopSolid’Cam 2011 greatly improves the surface quality of parts thanks to the use of only one tool path which stays in constant contact with the material (thereby avoiding jumps which deteriorate surface quality). 3D morphing also permits significant time gains by greatly reducing, or even eliminating, the need to polish parts.


Machine replacement

A new wizard allows the operator to replace the machine being used with another – there are no limitations concerning the new machine or its kinematics. Any operations which are not possible on the replacement machine are inactivated.

This new function offers huge time gains for workshop managers who can, for example, replace a Mill Turn machine with a lathe or a milling machine, an underused 5 axis machine with a 3 axis machine, etc. In addition the possibility to change machine offers great flexibility to fully exploit the potential of all machines present in the workshop.


Z level helical machining

Z level helical machining allows constant contact between the tool and the material. The principal advantage of this new function is the possibility it offers to prevent “sewing marks” caused by multiple entry and exit moves. This translates into superior surface quality in parts.


Z level finishing cycles

Pockets, commonly found in aerospace parts, often have very thin and fragile walls. TopSolid’Cam 2011 allows the operator to carry out finishing operations on these walls using Z level cycles regardless of the pocket depth. Such cycles help prevent unnecessary weakening of the already thin walls and reduce significantly programming times.  In addition multi-pocketing allows the automatic running of processes on faces detected and selected by the operator which enables faster machining times.


For more information visit: www.topsolid.com

Missler Software will exclusively present the new, updated version of TopSolid’Cam at the Turning Days Fair in Villingen-Schwenningen on stand E21. This new version will be launched at the end of February 2011 on the market.

TopSolid’Cam is a Cam solution which determines tool paths for numerically controlled machines including milling machines, lathes and machining centres. TopSolid’Cam 2010 facilitates the design and modification of symmetrical parts, the simultaneous edition of cutting conditions of several parts and now manages the parallel processing of multi-core processor calculations which enable users to dramatically reduce calculation times.

Management of symmetrical parts

In mechanical engineering it is fairly common to have to produce a right and left hand part. It is evident that the operator does not want to reprogram the left hand part when he has already programmed the right hand part. However, it is not enough to make the machining operations symmetrical. The user needs to ensure he is using climbing cutting (as opposed to conventional cutting) on the right hand and left hand part. TopSolid’Cam’s functions to create symmetrical parts ensure that the correct cutting direction is maintained.

Changing cutting conditions

TopSolid’Cam 2010 manages the modification, in 1 click, of the cutting conditions of several operations, notably rotation speeds and advance speeds. Thus the user can edit the cutting conditions after the event without having to edit the cutting operations themselves or without necessarily having detailed knowledge of TopSolid’Cam programming.

Faster and more efficient

Thanks to the possibility to carry out parallel calculations with the new multi-core processors TopSolid’Cam 2010 offers dramatically reduced calculation times (a reduction of 50-75% depending on the number of cores) notably in 3-5 axis operations which require a lot of power.  

Advanced simulation

A new control during the simulation process now permits swiss turning machines to be better managed. Users can now also navigate backwards from the last NC program line simulated. Many other improvements have also been generated via this new control.

Data recovery

- Import and export to and from several CAD solutions to improve the communication and collaboration with CATIA®, IGES, DXF, STEP, SAT, Parasolid

- Surface CAD and integrated volume

Missler Software

Missler Software is one of the leading global suppliers of CAD, CAM and ERP solutions. The company’s product lines include TopSolid and GOelan. Missler Software offers a uniquely integrated solution for the mechanical engineering industry (general mechanical design, special machinery, tooling, boilerwork …) and for sheet metal and wood industries.

Thanks to its advanced technology and its fully integrated solution, Missler Software is experiencing rapid growth in the global CAD/CAM market. For more information visit: www.topsolid.com

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