Delcam New High-Speed, 5-Axis Machining Options Increase CAM Software’s Speed, Efficiency
PowerMill 2012 CAM software for high-speed and 5-axis machining, now available from Delcam plc, includes new strategies and some general enhancements to make programming faster and machining more efficient. Delcam considers the most important new option in the 2012 version of its CAM package to be flowline machining.
With flowline machining, the tool path is divided between a pair of drive curves in a constant number of passes (rather than a varying number of passes with a constant step-over). The tool path has its start and end passes on the drive curves; the intermediate passes blend between them. This approach yields smoother results, since it ensures that each pass travels over the full length of the area. It produces a better surface finish and minimizes wear on the cutter and machine tool.
In PowerMill 2012, flowline machining can be applied across part of a surface, across a complete single surface or across multiple surfaces. Also, intermediate curves can be added between the boundaries of the area to give even greater tool-path control. These might be needed for especially complex fillets or when gently curved surfaces are being machined to a smooth finish.
Another important new option in PowerMill 2012 is the ability to control the angular point distribution during 5-axis machining (image). This keeps the machine tool moving smoothly when there is rapid angular change in one of its rotary axes. The problem occurs mainly when moving around sharp corners, but also when the machine is operating near a vertical tool axis. If the machine is near the gimbal lock position, small movements in the tool-axis vector can result in large movements in one of the axes.
In both cases, smoother tool-axis changes can be achieved by increasing the density of the points in the problem areas. The user can specify the maximum angle through which the tool axis can move between points. Extra points are inserted automatically to ensure that the specified angle is not exceeded. This gives a more even machine movement and thus a better surface finish without dwell marks. The smoother motion also minimizes machine wear.
Delcam has added to PowerMill’s optional module for automated blade, blisk and impeller machining a spiral-machining strategy that keeps the cutter on the part surface throughout the operation and results in more-even tool loading and a better surface finish.
Another, more general, enhancement is the new ability to use Bézier curves rather than polylines when sketching geometry. These curves provide smoother boundaries, patterns and drive curves, allowing better-quality tool paths to be produced.
Other enhancements in PowerMill 2012 include greater control over the clearance distances applied to the cutter and its holder; the addition of thread-milling options; and easier work-plane editing and Z-height selection and limiting.
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