The new 2016 release for Delcam’s FeatureCAM machine programming software includes a range of enhancements, in particular more options for the Vortex high-efficiency area-clearance strategy, support for bar-fed mills, more efficient turning, and user-interface improvements to make programming even easier and faster.
FeatureCAM is a feature-based program first introduced in 1995, with consistent advances by Delcam in programming speed and ease of use. Over that time, an increasing range of strategies have been added to provide more efficient toolpaths that improve productivity on more types of CNC machines, including mill-turn machines, five-axis mills, and wire EDM systems.
The 2016 release includes improvements in Delcam’s Vortex area-clearance strategy. “Vortex gives the fastest safe metal removal from solid carbide tooling,” according to the developer, in particular strategies that result in deeper cuts by using the full flute length as the cutting surface. It produces toolpaths with a controlled engagement angle, thereby maintaining optimal cutting conditions for the complete roughing cycle. The result is faster machining and longer tool life.
FeatureCAM 2016 also adds the ability to fine tune non-cutting moves for 2.5D and 3D Vortex toolpaths, with options to retract the tool and/or to increase the feedrate. These options can be set individually, or combined to achieve an optimal toolpath and a reduced cycle time.
Other roughing improvements include the ability to recognize remaining stock on the model during holder collision checking, avoiding collisions on Z-level roughing toolpaths.
There are several improvements for milling inside or outside groove features, including support for different types of roughing links, wind-fan approach and retract moves for finishing, better “gouge checking” for plunges and retracts, and tool radius and partline cutter compensation support.
FeatureCAM now supports multi-tasking bar-fed milling machines, e.g., the Mazak Integrex I150. Access to the back of the component is possible with an option to set the swivel angle of the machine, with additional cut-off operations now available that use milling tools.
There is greater flexibility for five-axis swarf machining with a new option to control the upper and lower Z limits of a simultaneous five-axis swarf toolpath. This is useful if tool-length is limited or if the stepdown needs to be varied for different segments of the toolpath.
For users of FeatureTURN, turning-tool selection has been simplified with the ability to use a single tool in multiple orientations. “Automatic tool orientation” categorizes tooling as outside-diameter or inside-diameter turning tools, and in that way shortens the time needed to program parts, reducing the number of different tools required in the tool crib.
In addition, the engage angle can now be set for the lead-in approach move. By controlling the approach move in this way, smoother chip formation and lower cutting forces can be achieved.
The new FeatureCAM allows quick import and alignment of various pre-defined vises and chucks into a machining project. This increases productivity, not only by speeding up programming but also because collision checking is done automatically during simulation.
Used in combination with Delcam’s PowerSHAPE, FeatureCAM 2016 allows machining files to be selected and nested automatically in a single block, optimizing stock material usage.