Delcam To Show 64-bit Powermill At Mach UK

Machining companies will be able to view the 64-bit version of Delcam's Powermill CAM software on stand 4010 at the Mach exhibition at the NEC, Birmingham, from 7-11 June. The 64-bit technology removes the memory limitations of 32-bit computers to allow more efficient toolpath generation, especially for companies machining large or complex parts.

The 2010 release is designed to improve user productivity by extending the application of the latest background-processing and multi-threading technologies available in recent hardware. The combination of these two developments is estimated to reduce calculation times by up to 25 per cent, although this will depend on the size and complexity of the part. Powermill 2010 also includes more than 50 other major enhancements to allow faster and easier generation of efficient toolpaths for three- through five-axis milling.

The most obvious change to existing users will be an update of all the toolpath-creation forms to an improved layout. The forms are designed to allow new users to easily find the commands they need, while also giving experienced operators more logical access to the more advanced options. In addition, there is new toolbar for faster creation and editing of workplanes. A new series of strategies for roughing and finishing corners has also been added. These allow more efficient and smoother clearance of these areas, especially when a large tool has been used for roughing initially that has left a significant amount of material in the corner.

Rest roughing has been enhanced to give better control over the start points for each segment of the toolpath. This will give substantial savings in overall machining time by minimising any air cutting. Offset roughing, a popular approach for high-speed machining, has been enhanced so thin slivers of material that may damage to the cutter are not left for the final pass. Powermill will now identify these potential problems automatically and adjust the final step over to give more even, and therefore safer, material thicknesses.

A number of improvements have been made to give smoother toolpaths for semi-finishing and finishing. These minimise the stresses put on the cutter and machine tool and result in a better surface finish. They are related to Delcam's Race-Line strategies for roughing and act in a similar way across the full extent of the toolpath. For example, sharp changes in direction in 3D-offset toolpaths are now automatically made smoother as the tool approaches and leaves.

This approach also gives a more accurate result than introducing an arc at the point of change. In a related development, more options have been added to the collision avoidance functionality to give more control over the direction chosen by the software to avoid the problem. These are particularly useful in any areas where there might be a sudden change in direction.

In addition, the ability to specify a look-ahead distance has been added to the collision avoidance capability in order to ensure a smooth transition when tool-axis changes are required. Constant-Z toolpaths have been enhanced to include the detection of flat areas and the automatic insertion of extra Z-levels to machine these exactly. In addition, a filter has been added to remove small enclosed segments from the toolpath as these can damage the cutter.

The 'Steep and Shallow' machining combination strategy uses these latest additions for the steep sections and a range of options has been added for the shallow areas. A new option has also been added that specifies the safe profile of the toolholder for any group of toolpaths. This helps to identify a single toolholder shape that can be used for the complete program without any risk of causing a gouge or collision.


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