Feature-based programming software
By Mary Del
The 2012 edition of FeatureCAM, feature-based programming software from Delcam, features a series of new strategies for 2.5D roughing. These strategies include a continuous spiral option to minimize 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. Step-overs for 2.5D mill roughing can now be set as large as the tool diameter itself. Previously, step-overs were limited to 50 percent of the tool diameter and, if this limit was exceeded, the toolpath would leave stands. The new algorithm supports larger step-overs 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 and faces to minimize 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. In addition, the company says that turn-mill programming has been improved with the addition of more flexible five-axis positioning.