FeatureCAM adds new roughing tools to 2012 release

Improvements to simulation, turn-mill programming and live tooling are also included.

Several new tools for controlling roughing in computer-aided milling are in the new release of FeatureCAM from Delcam, along with other milling improvements for faster toolpath generation.

The main addition to FeatureCAM 2012 R2 is a series of new strategies for 2.5D roughing.  These include a continuous spiral option to minimise 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.

Delcam’s new FeatureCAM release supports turning with live tooling.(Source: Delcam)

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% 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 as well as faces and so minimise 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 work piece is rotating in the turning spindle. Delcam says this approach avoids the issues associated with interrupted cutting and ensures regular chip breakage, so removing any chance of wrap-around by the swarf.

Turn-mill programming has been improved with the addition of more flexible five-axis positioning.  For example, any amount of negative b-axis movement available can be used, which avoids extending the y limit too far back into the machine.  Delcam says switching the positioning angles in this way makes editing easier, to keep the machine within its travel limits.

Another turn-mill improvement is support for cylindrical interpolation, which allows toolpaths to be created with NC code for a plane and then wrapped around a cylinder.  This approach, which can also be used for four-axis milling, allows cutter compensation to be applied when calculating the toolpath and gives smaller NC code files.

Other changes in this release:

  • Faster results in simulation mode, through the use of multiple CPU cores and the ability to save a position during the simulation; for example, while toolpaths are being edited, and then to run the simulation from that position rather than from the start;
  • Direct cutting and pasting of models between FeatureCAM and Delcam’s PowerSHAPE;
  • The ability to create machining configurations on a network as well as on an individual computer.