The 2012 R2 release of Delcam’s FeatureCAM feature-based CAM system includes roughing and turn-mill strategies as well as enhancements for faster toolpath generation. New strategies for 2.5D roughing include a continuous spiral option to minimize cutter and machine tool wear; high-speed roughing options including trochoidal machining and Race Line Machining; and “tear-drop” moves to clear corners smoothly. In addition, more leads and link styles are available for greater overall toolpath efficiency.
Step-overs for 2.5D mill roughing can be set as large as the tool diameter itself. Previously, step-overs were limited to half of the tool diameter and, if this limit was exceeded, the toolpath would leave stands. The new algorithm provides extra moves to clean up those stands automatically.
Other improvements have been made to milling operations. An optional extra profile pass can be added at the base of flat pockets. Face-milling tools with chamfered edges can be used to machine chamfers and faces, which minimize the number of tools needed. A choice of right- or left-handed thread-milling tools can be used for either climb or conventional thread machining. Also, calculation times can be reduced by saving boundaries as curves if they will be needed for subsequent calculations.
Roughing operations have been improved for turning equipment with live tooling. For example, a live milling tool can cut while the workpiece is rotating in the turning spindle. This approach avoids issues associated with interrupted cutting, ensures regular chip breakage and virtually eliminates wrap-around by the swarf.
More flexible five-axis positioning improves turn-mill programming. Any available negative B-axis movement can be used, avoiding extending the Y limit too far back into the machine. Switching the positioning angles in this way is said to make editing easier to keep the machine within its travel limits.
The software also features support for cylindrical interpolation, which enables tool paths 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, enables cutter compensation to be applied when calculating the tool path and results in smaller NC code files.
The software’s simulation module uses multiple cores for faster calculations. Users also can save a position during simulation, such as while toolpaths are being edited, and then run the simulation from that position rather than from the start.