| CAM Solutions Take SolidWorks Designs to Shop Floor with Speed and Accuracy
SolidWorks CAD programs now have a variety of CAM software partners with solutions designed to integrate seamlessly with SolidWorks files. The latest CAM plug-ins take SolidWorks designs to the machine shop floor with speed, accuracy and programmability ease for solid part manufacturing.
“Our OEM Program and Solution Partner Program work directly with CAM partners to enable them to utilize the data contained in CAD models more effectively,” said Mark Driscoll, SolidWorks’ OEM Business Development Manager. “By allowing this, we provide them the opportunity to directly communicate with the CAD model thereby reducing the potential for errors and reducing scrap. Other manufacturing related products such as DFMPro from Geometric Technologies interrogate the solid model to provide manufacturing feedback and assess the design for manufacturability of a particular part.”
Here are some of the latest in CAM offerings from SolidWorks Certified CAM, Certified Gold and OEM partners.
SolidCAM is a CAM product especially designed for the shop floor. SolidCAM supports the complete range of major manufacturing applications including 2.5D milling, 3D milling, high-speed machining, multi-sided indexial 4/5 axes milling, simultaneous 5 axes milling, turning, turn-mill up to 5-axes and WireEDM.
SolidCAM is a gold-certified CAM solution fully integrated to the SolidWorks 3D CAD software. In February, the company unveiled its latest Moldmaker version, designed to run seamlessly inside SolidWorks. SolidCAM HSM is the company’s latest offering in high-speed manufacturing. It is designed for 3D parts, aerospace parts and for molds, tools and dies.
SolidCAM 2009 takes STL scanned data files and creates machining tool paths. It provides solid verification up to eight times faster for complex 3D machining and increases the speed of simultaneous 5-axis machining by up to 30 percent, according to the company. The software provides sub-operations for simultaneous 5-axis machining for specific types of parts such as ports, turbine blades and electrodes. The latest version has an enhanced Mill-Turn module and enhanced Tool-table definition plus integration with Driveworks, an automated design add-on for SolidWorks.
In February at the SolidWorks World Exhibition, machining software developer Delcam unveiled a product signaling a new direction for the company. The company introduced its first Delcam version for SolidWorks. The virgin version will handle drilling and three-axis milling, but future releases will expand the program to cover turning, wire EDM and five-axis machining.
Prior versions of Delcam were independent, stand-alone programs capable of integrating with any CAD program. But customers asked for a version that could work from within the SolidWorks environment, and the company listened, according to Tom McCollough, Vice President of FeatureCAM Development.
"Delcam for SolidWorks will provide all the benefits associated with our FeatureCAM feature-based machining system,” said McCollough. "It has the same strong focus on ease-of-use, all of the knowledge-based automation that makes the software so consistent and reliable, including automatic selection of cutting tools, machining strategies, and feeds and speeds, and the same exceptional speed of toolpath calculation.”
TriMech Manufacturing, a primary SolidWorks reseller in the United States, is among several SolidWorks users that beta tested the new Delcam solution.
Delcam USA develops and markets FeatureCAM solutions, which include FeatureMILL2.5D, FeatureMILL3D, FeatureTURN, FeatureTURN/MILL, FeatureWIRE, FeatureRECOGNITION, Solid Modeling, Multi-Turret Turning, Machine Simulation, Tombstone Machining, 5-Axis Simultaneous, 5-Axis Positioning, and Native CAD Options.
SolidWorks files work directly with ESPRIT solutions using Parasolid modeling, avoiding the problems of file translation. ESPRIT’s machining solutions are performed directly on the solid model designed in SolidWorks, maintaining integrity of the finished product. This seamless integration means design changes on the SolidWorks model are reflected instantly in ESPRIT and G-code.
DP Technology’s ESPRIT® 2009 CAM software was showcased at SolidWorks World 2009. ESPRIT FX™ technology offers stock automation for lathes, open-pocket milling, EDM machine specific machining technology, improved 3D machining performance, B-axis turning for 5-axis mill-turn machines, and more. In ESPRIT 2009, the ESPRIT FX™ feature tree, now includes better rendering and visualization options.
Geometric Technologies has developed CAMWorks as a next generation solution for producing efficient machining programs directly from solid models. CAMWorks integrates with SolidWorks for solid modeling and is a SolidWorks certified Gold CAM product. The two programs have similar interfaces and the CAMWorks trees are comparable to the SolidWorks Feature Manager design tree.
Geometric will showcase CAMWorks 2009, the latest version of its solid-based CNC programming solution, at the WESTEC 2009 exposition from March 30 to April 2, 2009. The CAMWorks 2009 release will have over 80 user-driven features and enhancements to enable users to program parts manufacturing faster and more easily, according to the company. In addition, it will provide a significant number of new machining options that will further strengthen CAMWorks’ manufacturing capabilities. CAMWorks carries innovative Automatic Feature Recognition and Interactive Feature Recognition features, allowing the program to automatically modify a part model as the design changes.
This feature-based CNC programming software has models available in a variety of combinations for multiaxes machining, 2 ½ to 3 axis milling, mill turn and wire EDM. Available add-ons include CAMWorks Solids, CAMWorks Utilities, Machine Simulator, Solid Professor and CAMWorks Mill Fundamentals.
SolidWorks users can tap into the power of CNC Software’s Mastercam products via a free add-in called Mastercam Direct. The add-in brings files and file comparisons directly from SolidWorks into Mastercam.
In mid February, Mastercam released Mastercam X3, a feature-based machining, high speed technique solution designed to increase production and decrease machine time. It can now be used with 2D High Speed ToolPaths in addition to 3D machining. It also includes improved nesting capabilities.
The company’s Port5ax and Flow5ax Toolpaths includes new overlap and blending capabilities that can be added to the start or finish of a toolpath. TrueSolid 5-axis Verify has been added to Mastercam, allowing for toolpath simulation in solid modeling. Parts can be verified, rotated and magnified to double check scallops and other features.
Mastercam in SolidWorks brings Mastercam toolpaths directly into SolidWorks. Designers can now program those parts with Mastercam’s toolpaths in the same interface.
Other new enhancements include:
• New controlled engagement toolpath
• Import full SolidWorks history trees
• Expanded support for cutting STL files
• CAD enhancements
• 3D high speed toolpath enhancements
Mastercam will feature the newest product in the Mastercam CAD/CAM software suite – Mastercam in SolidWorks, as well as Mastercam X3 at Westec 2009.
MecSoft, a SolidWorks solution partner, released RhinoCAM v.2.0 in late 2008.
MecSoft's products can load SolidWorks part files (.sldprt) directly and create cutter paths for manufacturing. RhinoCAM is a Rhinoceros plug-in that runs completely inside of Rhino. This plug-in is a general purpose machining program targeted at the general machinist. RhinoCAM includes 2-1/2, 3, 4 & 5 axis milling and hole making operations. It comes with hundreds of post-processors and additionally a post-processor generator to create user definable post-processors.
VisualMILL is MecSoft’s standalone key CAM solution ideal for mold, die and tooling, wood working rapid-prototyping and general machining markets. The v. 6.0 software includes 2-1/2, 3, 4 & 5 axis machining functionality. It comes with hundreds of free post-processors and additionally a post-processor generator to create user definable post-processors.
Missler Software produces the CAD/CAM solution TopSolid. The program handles modeling, simulation and production for a total package from product drafting to machining. TopSolid Design 2008 featured a new SolidWorks interface.
A cornerstone of this company’s solutions for products with several interdependent parts is the use of an in-place design approach. The company defines in-place design as “the design of a part in its assembly context.” The approach allows an engineer to design all the parts of a product while maintaining the links between individual parts such as a chassis design.
Among the TopSolid CAD/CAM offerings are TopSolidDesign, TopSolidDraft, TopSolid Motion, TopSolid Castor, TopSolid Mold, TopSolid Progress, TopSolid Electrode, TopSolid Cam, TopSolid Wire, TopSolid Control, TopSolid Fold and TopSolid PunchCut.
Missler Software announced mid-March the details about the latest version TopSolid’Cam 2009. TopSolid'Cam is capable of piloting turning, 2 axes milling, 3 axis milling, 4 & 5 axis continued milling, 4 & 5 axis continued turning, synchronization and complex simulation. TopSolid'Cam 2009 aims to simplify machine programming, reduce cycle times, improve quality and reduce manufacturing costs, according to company information.
For a complete list of new features check out the press release at http://www.misslersoftware.com/press/viewpressrelease.asp?id=390
Planit’s clients helped drive the latest CAM software release, Edgecam 2009 R1, designed to increase rapid, quality manufacturing. The new R1 version has a new Associative Machining Technology that takes the tooling, part material and machine tool specification, and automatically calculates the correct cutting feeds and speeds for a manufacturing program. As the parameters change, the feeds and speeds automatically are adjusted.
This integrated CAM system works directly with files from SolidWorks.
2009 R1 has an improved head/rotary table configuration to specifically support 5-axis machining.
In addition, the Edgecam Strategy Manager has enhanced capabilities to increase support for twin-turret turning and a feature in the Mill-Turn to reduce tool change requirements.
2009 R1 has added a new Rough Turn Cycle that includes a Stock Runout function to automatically figure the overrun amount. ToolStore has also “undergone a major overhaul, with an improved user interface, better tool selection and significant performance improvements,” according to Planit. Meanwhile, the Edgecam Solid Machinist feature now provides ordering based on “logical machining rules.”
According to the company, the improvements have reduced the machining downtime by up to 50 percent and reduced machine set-up down to 3 minutes.
Native SolidWorks files can be opened directly in Surfware’s SURFCAM Velocity, eliminating translation errors. Design changes are recognized immediately in the solid model and automatically changes any affected tool paths.
SURFCAM features 2-axis to 4/5 axis machining capabilities plus an integrated toolpath verification. The company’s patented TrueMill technology extends tool life and boosts productivity. The latest version Velocity 4 was shipped to users in December. It features a new 3-Axis HSM capability for fluid toolpaths and rapid machining.
In February, the company announced the opening of a SURFCAM Demo and Training Center in Camarillo, Calif. The state-of-the-art, multi-media facility will host live demonstrations of TrueMill and SURFCAM, which will be filmed and posted to the Surfware Web site. Live Web casts will allow users to see real-time demonstrations of TrueMill programming used with a Haas machine to cut titanium.
Tebis v 3.4 was released early this year with several CAM improvements and function upgrades. “Tebis is focusing on the entire manufacturing process chain from the initial design, the eventual reverse-engineering process, to part structuring, virtual testing of all machining sequences to the final generation of all tool-path,” according to Tebis information specialist Andreas Much. “Our virtual environment allows intensive feasibility studies and to refine all machining sequences long before you even generate the part programs.”
SolidWorks files can be imported directly into Tebis, which supplies NC programming for the machining process.
Simulator and Electrode Design are among the v 3.4 upgrades. Electrode Design shifts the burden of repetitive routine tasks off the electrode designer as part of the manufacturing process.
The Tebis Simulator “functions over the entire process of Numerical Code manufacturing, from machining design to NC programming and execution,” according to the company.
Later in 2009, Tebis will roll out additional upgrades for fast design quality surfaces, a morphing module for easy manipulation of mesh data and an expanded virtual environment and knowledge database. A new add-on allows import of Parasolid data.
JETCAM’s specialty is nesting software products for CAD/CAM files used in sheet metal fabrication and the aerospace and automotive industries. JETCAM solutions cover “punching, profiling, routing, knife cutting and composite technologies.”
JETCAM Expert is the core of the company’s nesting products and NC output for composite cutting machines. The company unveiled its latest version of JETCAM Expert at the JEC Show in Paris March 24-26. “Orders are provided by links into existing MRP systems and are automatically processed,” according to the company. “Associated geometry files are located, profiling information applied, plies are nested and NC code is generated – all without human intervention.”
JETCAM Expert includes an import filter for SolidWorks files.
New CAM upgrades, products and plug-ins are released on a regular basis. For more information on the latest offerings and roll-outs, check the Web sites of each company. Most companies also welcome feedback and critiques of CAM solutions, always striving to meet the needs of customers, so feel free to send comments.
SolidWorks users may also want to check out the products and services by OpenMind, Sescoi, SofTech and SolutionWare.