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SolidWorks kickstarts a busy CAD&CAM 2011 fall season

It seems like only a few days ago the hotdogs where sizzling on the grill, backyard bonfires, and the CAD/CAM world more or less asleep. But as we find ourselfs here in the middle of November the reality is that the wonderful world of Design, Engineering and Manufacturing has awaken and actually been pretty busy as of late.
Here is a quick recap…

September 1st. SolidWorks made there 2011 version available for download, and you could clearly see that the press and blogging community was hungry for some action.
In my opinion this 2011 version of SolidWorks do not introduce anything that is going to change things in the CAD industry. Understanding that every version can’t be great leaps into the future, I’m already looking forward to next years release. Yep thats right!…Already excited about 2012(SolidWorks people…please do not feel any pressure ;-) ).
Beside some new buttons, rearrange of functions, and new stuff like “de-feature” tool, I hope this version will prove to be a continued effort by SolidWorks to make a more reliable and stable product.
We will for sure become more familiar with SolidWorks 2011 here on cadcamstuff.com months ahead.
If you are looking for some good information for the new stuff for the 2011 version I would have to recommend you jump over to The SolidWorks Geek and read Alex Ruiz’s SolidWorks 2011 A geeks view …… or if you like me also enjoy listing to podcast on your daily commute. Check out Lou Gallo’s of The SolidWorks Heard2011 What’s New Where Lou Gallo goes through the “What’s New” pdf that comes with your software.


Not long after the release of SolidWorks 2011 both Jeff Ray~CEO of SolidWorks~and Jon Hirschtick~founder of SolidWorks~decided to do some blogging on the biggest topic of months prior SolidWorks World event. The subject The cloud!.
Personally I really like that SolidWorks is taking the approch to be involved in this future technology instead of playing passive for then possible later playing scratchy catch up.
But I honestly thought they where a further ahead with answers to some of the questions that seems to be repeated, such as security, user cost and reliability of service. These two easily digestible blog post are available on the SolidWorks blog. I truly recommend you take the time to read on the future to come. Jeff Ray, follow up on SolidWorks World and Jon Hirschtick, Platform Shift and Online Data


CAMWorks beta is up and running. Being in beta things are pretty tight in regards to what to come, but we do know that CAMWorks are going to be available with a payable option to attach Volumill for spicing some serious chip removal. VoluMill is a program that is essebtional for material removal operations such as pocket milling. VoluMill will calculate a constant load on your cutter and not only save on tool life but also decrease cycle time. I will defiantly be looking to get some more information to bring on VoluMill beside what is one there website, and when beta is over it could be fun to actual post some mill pocket benchmarks. Here is the press release from tenlinks Celeritive to Integrate VoluMill with Geometric CAMWorks


Earlier this month HSMWorks 2011 was released. I was lucky enough on my recent visit back to Denmark that Mark and Rene from HSMWorks took a couple hours out of there busy day to chat with me over a cup of coffee at there new location in northern Copenhagen. It is pretty evident that these guys are carrying a healthy dose of industry experience from there companionship a few doors down the hallway where the respected name of Cimco is on the door. It is pretty clear HSMWorks has been built on a solid foundation, and this product sets quality ahead of anything else. Most likly also why the company decided to annouce that there new lathe package is comming later this year, instead of rushing and stuffing an unfinsihed product in there HSMWorks 2011 release. Check out there press release here HSMWorks 2011 Released


MastercamX5 are on the streets. It hurts not having a finger on the pulse of the product that has been so much fun for me in the past, but I’m hoping to be able to provide some insight on this newly released version of one of the CAM worlds top products, if not from my personal experience, then maybe from someone else. Stay tuned for some MastercamX5 goodies until then I guess we have to live with the sample from Mastercam’s “What’s New” teaser.


And lastly I can not end this blog post without writing the word “Creo”. Does it sound like a breakfast cereal? well it might actually keep you full all the way through dinner. We are talking about serving up a bulk of programs including the name Pro/ENGINEER as one of the dishes in a new buffet named creo. Here is the link to the official site creo But if you really have the interest to read up on this chain restaurant I would recommend checking out deelip’s What exactly is Creo and Ralph Grabowski’s Project lightning=Creo Both guys did a fabulousness job covering this story.

Conclusion…
So it has defiantly been a busy couple of months on the CAD&CAM planet. Hopefully this pushing of new computer aided releases will push for better design, manufacturing and work in our respectful fields of expertise.

HSMWorks for Solidworks is like a smoothie for your code

When looking to justify investing in something as important as CAM, you might end up sitting with a long list of new functions you never knew was needed, ever existed,  and possible maybe not even truly understand what really do. On top of that your brain is swirling with the daunting price you have to justify to make this new adventure possible.

GreatIdea

 

A NC-code editor is most likely not on your list, however I know from myself that I use more time in my editor, than many of those new fancy toolpaths CAM companies are bragging about.

If you use  Mastercam and find the following screen shot utterly familiar, its because HSMWorks Editor is actually the old Cimco Editor on steroids .

The intelligent layout…

Main picture 

HSMWorks Editor is sweet on the eyes. This is because they have made it totally customizable with text and background colors. Its easy to set up and adds a flare of intelligent. The intelligence is that it categories the colors with the different functions of the programs, what makes the code much more digestive compared most other NC-editors. It is very easy to have your code turn into a crazy blur of letters and numbers, this function really helps keeping some order in things.

Changes…

image

Most editors will have some kind of search function integrated. HSMWorks have spiced things up with handy tools  that will let you change spindle and feedrates quickly without having to waste a lot of time searching through the code. My favorite search function is the customizable  “Next Tool Change”. This button makes searching through the code sweet like honey.

Compare…

File compare

File compare probably do not need any explanation, however the set up in HSMWorks Editor makes is so easy to compare and bring code from one file to another on the fly, it even makes functions like Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V old fashion. With a quick Ctrl+ <- -> you will be sending the desired values from one side to another. File Compare is also great tool if you are bringing programs back  from the shop floor, and want to make sure you get all operator changes back in your system.

Verify…

Backplot

We have discussed verifying before, and I can not stress how important it is if you have to do offline programming on a daily basis. The verify we normally are talking about happens right inside our CAM, but there is one dangerous part about this. Verify inside your CAM is done before your toolpaths has actually traveled through your post processor, and since the post processor is the tool that actually creates the code, you are most defiantly running a risk for error. HSMWorks Editor gives you the possibility to verify you actually code. It does not have the fancy graphics, but it can protect a programmers biggest fear. A missed retract height.

Conclusion…

So maybe it would be silly to buy HSMWorks because of its editor, but it should most defiantly be part of the list of  things you take into consideration when deciding which CAM package to buy.

BobCAD-CAM now roars inside Solidworks

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I’m having a hard time finding anything negative to say about getting my CAM inside Solidworks, and it seems like the major CAM companies has realized that they better got on the Solidworks-train.

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BobCAD-CAM has been known for doing things differently compared to there competitors. No resellers, openly posting prices on there website, free post processor modifications, and very affordably. BobCAD-CAM has been many startup shops entrance in to the CAD/CAM world.

logo

I think it is great to see that BobCAD-CAM have taken the step to mingle with the other CAM companies inside Solidworks. This can only result in companies like Mastercam, Esprit and Delcam to work a little harder to justify there price and quality for there Solidworks add-on’s.

At this point BobCAD-CAM offer 2. 3 and 4 axis Milling with a supposedly 5th axis version available in 2011. They also has become a Solidworks OEM reseller and sell a slimmed down Solidworks version that fits there quest for bringing affordable CAD/CAM to you.

I recently sat in on a online demo of this new roaring cat and are sharing the screenshots here.

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Conclusion

so if you are looking for an affordable solution to stuff you CAM inside Solidworks, this might be your Solidworks partner. BobCAD-CAM also share there pricing and there available demo for download here

HSMWorks verifies an Ipad inside Solidworks

Ipad

Fruit fanatic or not, Appel’s Ipad is most defiantly the hottest rocking geek topic these days, and Mike Puckett who is one of Solidworks certification specialists modeled up one of these wonders and is gracefully sharing it on 3dcontentcentral.  Now if you are up for prizes, pretty renderings and Ipads, I would recommend that you swing by Solidsmack.com and check out "Ipad model rendering challenge.  Snack a 3Dconnexion SpaceNavigator" for some fun.

Ipad mold 

Using Solidworks juicy mold tools we can quickly make an attempt on an Ipad core that  we can use to look a little deeper into HSMWorks Solid Verification spinning hand in hand with Solidworks.

Stock Setup in HSMWorks

 Stock setup

Stock setup is pretty simple to habdle in HSMWorks, Automatic has to be a favorite word, but you also have an option to use Solidworks sketches, what should make already Solidworks users feel pretty comfortable with this virtual task.

Right click to Solid Verification

As written in the past, I am a big fan of shortcuts for quick access to get the job done. Right mouse key in HSMWorks is stuffed with a big selection of functions, including Simulate and what we are looking for….Solid Verification. So right mouse click on the HSMWorks job folder, and the hallway that leads you to Solid Verification lights right up

HSMWorks Solid Verification.

Solid Verification

Placed inside the solid verification part in HSMWorks is pretty sweet. My biggest complain is that my 3Dconnexion SpaceNavigator is disabled., what just results in the old fashion zoom and un-zoom with the mouse wheel. Still looking like a standard Solidworks property manager, HSMWorks has taken full advantage of the space available, and as you can see on picture above you have some cool information and measurements available, and all this information comes to life as you move your cursor over the different areas of the verified part.

Right click inside verification

Also inside Solid Verification you will find that “Right mouse” click brings up some neat tools. Here I find my savior for missing 3Dconnexion functions with a varieties to view the part from different standard views, and “Beep” and “Flash on Crash” could easily become the tools to secure your title as “CAM Ninja” around the office.

Conclusion

Verification is the last line of defense before sending that NC code to your CNC machine. Now I most likely do not have to remind you that spindle repair has not become cheaper. HSMWorks have invested in giving you the tools that will make it possible for you to verify your work and at the end of the day, you can go home while your mold core is being machined safely.

Solidworks knitting toolpaths with HSMWorks

Continuing with some more exploring of HSMWorks (The milling package integrated inside Solidworks).
I’m going to do a quick dance through a simple pocket toolpath, so you can take a look at these screen shots and tell me that this gold partner hasn’t done a splendid job integrating CAM into Solidworks.
Toolpath drop down…

The entry into the HSMWorks from the standard Solidworks drop down menu could appear intimidating for new users with all the different toolpaths available. They are pretty standard for most milling packages, and when digging into the tutorials it should quickly make a lot more sense for new users……no fear :-)
Tool library

As you start using you CAM tool you will find that you also will favor composing your own tool library. This software has done the job making these custom menus easy to digest.
Coordinate

I really like that HSMWorks is taking advantage of already existing Solidworks functions and implement them inside the CAM also. Here is a attempt to demonstrate a coordinate I sat in Solidworks and now picking it right out of the Solidworks Feature Tree to specify where the solid to machine is compared to the machine axis.
Picking the toolpath

Picking a simple 2D pocket is no different than picking a new face to sketch on, and as you can see in the menu that you have the controls on from where you want to feed, retract, top up, bottom down. Basically you are in control of where as to start the chip making.
Simulation

You need to be able to program tomorrows job today. Your last line of defense before the operator press the green button is a simulation process. Verifying that you have enough clearance or picked the right axis for your tool to travel down is critical. Being integrated inside Solidworks means that you can skip a step you many times have to complete with with stand alone CAM package. With more HSMWorks to come on cadcamstuff.com, simulation should be on the agenda.

HSMWorks, welding CAM onto Solidworks
So no really doubt that integrated CAM inside Solidworks looks totally cool. So what are some of the advantages of stuffing your CAM inside your CAD package as compared to a stand alone CAD/CAM package?

First of is that now you have both your CAD and your CAM contained inside your .sldprt file, this mean less files to keep track of getting updated and stored the right places. Your IT Manager would love you.

Secondly is the issue of your CAD model having a change made to it after it has already been submitted to production. There is no concern about getting the CAD converted over to a CAM system and if the busy engineer remembers to notify all design changes to whom ever is programing on the stand alone CAM. With integrated CAM inside Solidworks, you are picking the same feature the engineer extruded, there for if a radius has changed….well then you are picking that one.

Third is cost. Generally a integrated CAM is cheaper than the stand alone. Reason for that is the stand alone CAM also carries a needed CAD module. So if you already have or need a CAD package like Solidworks and are looking into adding or upgrading CAM, you should defiantly seriously be looking at integrated CAM.

The plan is to do some more HSMWorks here on cadcamstuff.com. I hope we can dig a little deeper into this tasty software together.

HSMWorks turns Solidworks into fabolius CAM


CAM inside Solidworks have been a fairly hot topic in the CAM world. Most of the major CAM products like Mastercam, Delcam and Esprit are having at it. But from what I have seen HSMWorks is the leader when it comes to swing up some milling toolpaths inside Solidworks.

So with a trial version of HSMWorks in hand and newly installed Solidworks 2010 the temptation to explore some solid CAM inside Solidworks is just about to much to bare.

The 1st thing that hits you when doing the install of HSMWorks is how fast the process is. With everything working right inside Solidworks you are only installing the CAM functions, so the install is 75% faster than when you are installing a stand alone CAD/CAM. So not only do we have the advantage that CAD and CAM is contained inside the .sldprt file when working with HSMWorks. The actually space you are taking up on your hard drive when installing the program is also minimized.


Next is how nice HSMWorks stands out when installed……Or should I say, how nicely it does not standout when working inside Solidworks. If you are already a Solidworks user I know that you guard your already comfortable Solidworks work environment and custom settings and would go nuts like if someone messed with your car stereo.

I was working on some design changes with a colleague of mind, whom have been using Solidworks since 2007, and he did not ask to the added icon on top of the feature manager tree until I clicked on it on purpose just to get some reaction out of the man.


As most users I do not have much patience and time for long complicated reads about how to make new functions work, “Help” is right there in the HSMWorks drop down menu. The help section in HSMWorks is nicely set up, however I do hope it is on the agenda for HSMWorks to do more in depth “explanations” and “best practices”. If you are new to CAM programing it is nice that you can string some quick info on stuff like “lead in/lead out” or filtering purposes.


My Solidworks reseller have before joked about Solidworks being to generous with there tutorials to there customers, and I do see his point. Well HSMWorks are following in the Solidworks corporation foot steps. Going through a HSMWorks tutorial is build after the identical principles of a Solidworks tutorial. A very smart move from HSMWorks, make you user comfortable in a already known environment.


The fact is that HSMWorks is so integrated into Solidworks it looks like anything else you normally would see there, so now beside adding a fillet or pattern a series of holes in your property manager, you are now guiding a CNC Machining Center in a elegant tango.

Halftime…
We are sending more HSMWorks your way next week, and also we need to talk about the advantages of integrated CAM inside Solidworks, and how about disadvantages……stay tuned!

Mastercam Feature Based Machining for real people.


With Mastercam Feature Based Machining the toolpaths are created using features from the solid, and the operations are automatically generated. This should result less programing time and also give less skilled programmers an advantage.

But does it work? the answer is yes, as long as you are gentle with the selection of parts. When it was first added to the Mastercam toolpath selection it was quickly judged as a incomplete enhancement that further more became a advertising joke when posted on youtube “So easy a 6 year old can do it“.

Now anyone with a little CAM knowledge and common sense, will realize that there is a lot more to programing CAM than throwing toolpaths around. But Mastercam Feature Based Machining menus are geared for easier understanding, and could give you the opportunity to have less skilled people programming rough operations for mold cavities, and prepping baseplates.

A example of a simple part could be a plate with some counterbored holes, tap holes etc.
This plate is modeled up in Solidworks2010, shot thin with holes right out of Solidworks Hole Wizard, and would be a candidate for Feature Based Drilling.

The new tree-style menus in Mastercam is defiantly preferable over the old “tap” style. There have been some discussion on the forums about the order of the tree, and I also believe they need a remodeling. But from a standpoint of ease, well I wish the direction for putting Walmart furniture together was this easy.

The menus for Selecting how to treat the different holes analyzed in the solid are pretty straight forward.

You have plenty control over how you want to entry/exit, material leftover and rough and finish your counterbores.

With settings and parameters set, it is time to let Mastercam grap some of that CPU you got there on your desk. You will see that Mastercam creates operations like if you had done it the “old fashion” way. Folders for the different drilling and circle milling operations, each containing the different tool sizes etc. (17 in this case).

In case of a change it is nice you now have the option to decide if you want to dick into the standard toolpaths parameters or conveniently select the FBM folder at the top of the Operation Tree and get back to the Feature Based Machining menu.

Conclusion
Feature Based Machining should not be forgotten as an option to quickly create less complex toolpaths in our everyday lifes. With these toolpaths options being promoted right along “Mastercam for Solidworks” you must believe that Mastercam is going to do there best in continuous improving them.

Esprit, CAD/CAM ready for the future.


I had the pleasure a few weeks ago sitting through a 45min webinar presented by David Bartholomew from DP Technology. The title was “Boost your productivity with Esprit”.
(DP Technology, developers of Esprit is one of the major CAD/CAM software in the world)

David started out with numbers describing that Esprit at this point distributes in 80 countries and available in 15 different languages, but also pointing out with the speed of computer technology there is no time for a company like theirs to lean back and enjoy the numbers. DP Technology is aware of the challenges ahead, and is ready to be part of “hot” topics such as cloud technology where the muscles of CAM will be hanging above processing toolpaths and creating NC-code.

A major tool builder did research on where the cost and hold up in the manufacturing process is, with the results aiming at CAD/CAM responsible for 20-85% of the headaches. But with a business model wrapped around being able to adapt and change on the fly. Esprit has tools as patented 5-axis composite technology and edge cutting multitasking swiss style turning, which has proven to be steps ahead of the competition.

The cool thing about this presentation was that you really got the feeling that DP Technology wants to be right there alongside their costumers providing the tools need for companies to be on the cutting edge of technology. I think that webinars are a refreshing way to reach out to existing costumers compared to the sometime long winded newsletters.

Is that a shipping crate or a 5axis machining center

When buying a 5axis compatible machining center you better have you priorities straight. 1)$Money$ 2)accuracy 3) machine travel etc. The actual visual machine design should not be that important.
Then again, if you pay $500.000 for a machine wouldn’t it be appropriate that someone in the design department at least spend an hour or two on the visual eye candy. I have to admit that I care about how the overall machine floor looks, and I know I am not the only one.
Here is 10 different machines picked for comments.

Accuway

There it is, a 5axis out of Taiwan. I think we can agree that this is pretty dull. You got to wonder if the 2 shades of gray really are the designer reaching his highest potential or if they ran out of one shade.(After making that comment I would like to note that I do notice how the dull color matches my blog theme, Yikes)
www.accuway.com.tw/

Belotti

A big machine coming from Italy. From the picture it looks like it is hard to operate the control while looking through the glass, and the 2 gunslinger air hoses on each side makes me wonder if Clint Eastwood will step out of this box.
www.belotti.com

Bridgeport

This machine has defiantly come a long way since there famous “knee mill”. But from a design standpoint a couple of colored stripes just ain’t doing it.
www.bpt.com

DMG

This is my favorite, Big windows, big doors for easy access. Modern machine control what looks like a LED monitor attached.
www.dmg.com

Emco

The red color defiantly stands out and the stainless curved door handle could have been stolen from a modern shower door at Bed, Bath and Beyond. The control looks kinda boxy, don’t you think?
www.emco-world.com

Mercedes

Just a reminder what standards we should hold when talking design and quality, pretty sweet looking eh :-).
www.mercedes.com

Kitamura

White, White, White. 1st hand experience with the Kita. Great machine accuracy, but design is 0. Absolutely boring. And over the years that machine will turn white with a dust of dark grain. Ugly!
www.kitamura.com

Liechti

Not a watch or chocolate but a Schweiz 5axis machining center. From the picture it almost looks like it got tinted windows, what would be weird. But the angulared front does give it some caractor.
www.liechti.com

Matsuura

You have to applause the color selection on the Matsuura, it stand out compared to the competition. But the cross hatched windows are in my opinion not more than a visible barrier and the doors are to narrow.
www.matsuura.com

Haas

American NASCAR Star Tony Stewart in front of the Haas VF2 limited colored racer. A low priced machine, but a design favorite from a operators standpoint. Big windows and a operator friendly control, attachments etc.
www.haas.com

OKK

Another machine with a solid reputation, but can we agree that without a single curve the bordeaux color is not going to carry this design?.
www.okk.com

As the 5axis leaves the catwalk
I am pretty sure that I will never be asked to be a judge in any style or fashion contest, and as I pointed out in the beginning; Style, color and design is not a determent factor when purchase a 5axis machine. But never the less I do find it interesting to line the different models up and compare what the different manufactures have designed.

Use your Solidworks file to verify in Mastercam

Got this question asked the other day, and thought maybe it would make it worth for someone if this one year old post got dusted off, and came back out in the sunlight.

If you import Solid models into Mastercam and you are not using them for verify, then you are missing on a cool feature, more than once this has saved me the hassle of re-programing a part because I forgot to drill a hole or clear a feature.
1st. picture is just a preview of the solid and stock display turned on.
Next step is to verify our program and save the *.STL file.
Now we need to setup the stock definition to use the saved STL file as stock, and turn Display on.
You will clearly see where the 2 pockets are machined and where stock still is remaining, my blue square is a typical example of me saying “oh yeah I need to clear the corners ;-)”.
Try it, it is pretty easy habit to get into and you can not have enough tricks up in your sleeve to get the job done right the 1st time.