Delcam will launch the 2015 version of its FeatureCAM CAM system at IMTS 2014 in Chicago from 8th to 13th September on booth E3222, the largest CAM software booth at the show. FeatureCAM 2015 includes a range of enhancements in three-axis milling, two-axis and five-axis drilling, turning and turn-mill, and wire EDM to make the software even more powerful and easier to use.
FeatureCAM was the world’s first feature-based programming software when it was launched in 1995. Constant development since then has ensured that the system has retained its leadership in programming speed and ease of use, while an increased range of strategies has been added to provide more efficient toolpaths that give greater productivity on a wider range of machinery, including mill-turn machines, five-axis mills and wire EDM equipment.
In FeatureCAM 2015, programming of complex parts has been made easier and more reliable with the addition of automatic collision checking of the tool shank and holder, as well as the cutter, for both three-axis roughing and finishing toolpaths. The user has the choice of either stopping the simulation immediately when a gouge is detected or of running the complete toolpath with any gouges being highlighted on the model as they are detected. The toolpath can then be recalculated with any segments that will cause a gouge clipped away.
Removing these segments of the toolpath will leave an area of unmachined stock that will need to be removed with a longer tool. This extra toolpath can be calculated using a stock model of material remaining after the shorter tool has been used to ensure there is no re-machining of stock that has already been removed.
As part of this development, an additional function, called ‘maximum machine stock’, has been added that removes direct moves where clipping has occurred. These direct moves can leave witness marks on the part so their removal improves surface finish.
Another improvement in three-axis machining allows stock models to be used in conjunction with other geometry, such as the part surface dimensions, solid models, the stock dimensions and boundary curves. This addition gives better control over the area to be machined by each toolpath and so gives more efficient machining by allowing the user to confine toolpaths to specific regions and to minimise air-cutting by referencing the stock model.
Five-axis programming of multiple holes has also been made easier in FeatureCAM 2015. It is now possible to create patterns of holes of a similar size with regular positioning. Any subsequent changes to the program can then be made for all the holes in the pattern in one operation, rather than having to edit the toolpaths separately for each individual hole.
A series of improvements have been introduced to make turning with FeatureCAM more efficient. The software now produces toolpaths that rapid up and over previously machined diameters, rather than feeding along them. This reduces the overall cycle time and avoids dragging of the tool.
‘Pinch and follow’ turning can now be chosen when machining components using the ‘face’ or ‘back-face’ cycles. Using this method gives better results since having the tools cut in opposing directions to each other means that the cutting forces are better balanced.
Two additions have been made that allow FeatureCAM to provide programs for a wider range of turning and turn-mill machine tools. Firstly, support has been added for the use of travelling steady rests to give increased flexibility when turning very long parts. Secondly, FeatureCAM 2015 has the ability to manage multiple part-catchers on turn-mill equipment. Machines with multiple part-catchers include the Nakamura WT-150, NTJX and NTMX, all of which have part-catchers for the main spindle and a separate part-gripper for the sub-spindle.
FeatureCAM 2015 also provides full-machine simulation and post-processing for the rotating sub-spindle on the Mori Seiki NTX1000 turn-mill equipment. The user has full control over the angle of the sub-spindle, with the software inserting automatically an operation on each channel so that the lower turret is positioned correctly prior to the movement of the sub-spindle.
For users of wire EDM, FeatureCAM 2015 provides an expanded wire-cut database to support multiple machines with varying formats and methods of operation, with the ability to specify nozzle type and fluid type as well as material type and thickness, wire type and diameter, and EDM machine. This gives more flexibility by providing the option to store and apply a greater variety of different parameters.
Finally, FeatureCAM 2015 allows easier programming of families of parts. Working with the part library, the software matches the names of features within the part library with user-created curves relating to those features. This makes the programming of subsequent parts in the family much easier and faster.