New Strategies for Roughing, Mill-Turn Machining

Jan. 26, 2012
Latest Delcam release also makes toolpaths faster, more efficient
Delcam reported its new FeatureCAM 2012 R2 software for feature-based machining supports turning with live tooling.

A new series of strategies for 2.5D roughing is reported by Delcam plc to be the main addition to its FeatureCAM 2012 in the latest release of that machining program, including a continuous spiral option that minimizes wear on the cutter and machine tool. FeatureCAM 2012 R2 also includes high-speed roughing options, like trochoidal machining; a patented Race Line Machining feature; and “tear-drop” moves to clear corners more smoothly. Also, the new release offers more styles of leads and links that improve the toolpaths’ overall efficiency.

FeatureCAM is Delcam’s feature-based CAM software program, and 2012 RD is being highlighted for improving roughing and mill-turn machining, and for more general enhancements that speed up toolpath generation.

In the new release, stepovers for 2.5D mill roughing can be set as large as the tool diameter itself, Delcam announced. Previously, stepovers were limited to 50% of the tool diameter; 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, thereby minimizing 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 also has been improved for users of turning equipment that can operate with live tooling. A new option in FeatureCAM 2012 R2 allows cutting with a live milling tool, while the workpiece is rotating in the turning spindle. This avoids issues associated with interrupted cutting and ensures regular chip breakage, Delcam stated, and thus removing any chance of wrap-around by the swarf.

Mill-turn 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, which avoids the problem of 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 mill-turn improvement is support for cylindrical interpolation. This means that toolpaths can be created with NC code for a plane, and then wrapped around a cylinder. The same approach can be used for four-axis milling, so cutter compensation can be applied when calculating the toolpath to reduce the size of NC code files.

Delcam indicated that FeatureCAM users will benefit from improvements to the simulation module, in particular because of faster results thanks to multi-core calculation. FeatureCAM 2012 R2 also allows programmers to save a position during simulation (e.g., while toolpaths are being edited) and then to run the simulation from that position, rather than from the start.

Other 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, to save time and promote consistent results from different users.

About the Author

Robert Brooks | Content Director

Robert Brooks has been a business-to-business reporter, writer, editor, and columnist for more than 20 years, specializing in the primary metal and basic manufacturing industries. His work has covered a wide range of topics, including process technology, resource development, material selection, product design, workforce development, and industrial market strategies, among others. Currently, he specializes in subjects related to metal component and product design, development, and manufacturing — including castings, forgings, machined parts, and fabrications.

Brooks is a graduate of Kenyon College (B.A. English, Political Science) and Emory University (M.A. English.)

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