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MFG.com challenges you!

According to my trusted source, Wikipedia, it is estimated that there was spend more than 500 billion dollars on advertising in 2010. Now as a “middle aged man”(Also according to Wikipedia) I would like to believe that this expensive, but rather often simple propaganda are below my intelligence for having much effect.

I will have to admit that a casual flipping through one of my favorite trade magazines, the advertising agent did a fabulous job grabing my attention and fully direct it to their ad.

Can you make this part?
Well there I am, kids are screaming of hunger, the dog needs go outside, and I am sitting studying an advertising showing something that is suppose to pretend to look like a manufacturing quote, silently saying to myself, Sure I can!

So I decided to record a couple of videos. One creating this part in SolidWorks, and then follow up with one that machines that SolidWorks part using CAMWorks right inside SolidWorks. But before we go any further it might be in its place to discover who MFG.com is in case you are not familiar with this online tool. Explaining that the easiest and proably most accurate is to direct you to about MFG.com on their website.
Can you make this part using SolidWorks?

Can you make this part using CAMWorks?

Conclusion…
So that part was not that hard. Of course we could do that part in SolidWorks and CAMWorks. If the part had been too hard I would probably never went this far. The magic of good advertising :-).

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.

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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

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.

Engineering change, use “Change Recognition” in MastercamX4

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You just received a text message from your wife that you favorite fishing pole is packed along with the big cooler, and ready for your trip to the lake. It is Friday afternoon, life is good because you just got that rush job burning happy and well in the WEDM for the next 16 hours.
~You know it is to good to be true~.
A call from the engineering department that a new Solidworks model has been send your way, and the change results in re-programing the part because someone by mistake added one leg too many. Fishing trip down the drain?….
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Last month…
There was the blog post Easy to Track Solidworks files with Mastercam that will secure you catch every detail changed in the Solidworks model, now the next step…

Change Recognition
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Mastercam compares the currently loaded file (called the original file) with the specified file (called the incoming file), and let you view the differences and also update the toolpaths.
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As you can see, with options from the “Geometry Display” drop down it is fairly easy to key in on the differences.
* Features of the original file
* Features of the incoming file
* Features of the two files have in common
* Features unique to the original file
* Features unique to the incoming file
* Both files combined
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Many old school people will in this case lower there head and start over, but with a little playing around to get some confidence with this feature, your fishing trip is not in danger and redoing you toolpath is piece of cake.
1) This drop down menu will help you select which toolpath you are modifying.
2) Choosing “incoming file” to use the now model for toolpath picking.
3) Just like normal this button will take you to your chain manager you know so well.
4) With the now model selected in “Geometry Display” and you old toolpath selected from you drop down menu (1) it is clear what has changed but also easy to pick your new path.

Conclusion
I think this is a great feature that came with the X series, as we see more and more models handed down and fewer actually drawings filled with revision tables, this feature has proven to be at value. The problem is that it does take some time to get comfortable with when you have a $13,000 mold Cavity sitting in your WEDM, and I do believe that some of the innovating heads at CNC Software should spend some time trying to make it a little more user friendly, maybe something in style with the new “tree style” menus they got for 2D and highspeed toolpaths could be used here?.

Engineering change, use "Change Recognition" in MastercamX4

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You just received a text message from your wife that you favorite fishing pole is packed along with the big cooler, and ready for your trip to the lake. It is Friday afternoon, life is good because you just got that rush job burning happy and well in the WEDM for the next 16 hours.
~You know it is to good to be true~.
A call from the engineering department that a new Solidworks model has been send your way, and the change results in re-programing the part because someone by mistake added one leg too many. Fishing trip down the drain?….
4
Last month…
There was the blog post Easy to Track Solidworks files with Mastercam that will secure you catch every detail changed in the Solidworks model, now the next step…

Change Recognition
5
Mastercam compares the currently loaded file (called the original file) with the specified file (called the incoming file), and let you view the differences and also update the toolpaths.
6
As you can see, with options from the “Geometry Display” drop down it is fairly easy to key in on the differences.
* Features of the original file
* Features of the incoming file
* Features of the two files have in common
* Features unique to the original file
* Features unique to the incoming file
* Both files combined
7
Many old school people will in this case lower there head and start over, but with a little playing around to get some confidence with this feature, your fishing trip is not in danger and redoing you toolpath is piece of cake.
1) This drop down menu will help you select which toolpath you are modifying.
2) Choosing “incoming file” to use the now model for toolpath picking.
3) Just like normal this button will take you to your chain manager you know so well.
4) With the now model selected in “Geometry Display” and you old toolpath selected from you drop down menu (1) it is clear what has changed but also easy to pick your new path.

Conclusion
I think this is a great feature that came with the X series, as we see more and more models handed down and fewer actually drawings filled with revision tables, this feature has proven to be at value. The problem is that it does take some time to get comfortable with when you have a $13,000 mold Cavity sitting in your WEDM, and I do believe that some of the innovating heads at CNC Software should spend some time trying to make it a little more user friendly, maybe something in style with the new “tree style” menus they got for 2D and highspeed toolpaths could be used here?.

MastercamX4 is Downloadable

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I am not sure you actually can say Downloadable, but what….

CNC Software made there latest release in the Mastercam series available for download today on Mastercam.com……….Yep MastercamX4 is official.
6 month since MastercamX3 Maintenance Release 1, so what have CNC Software been up to these months?

Dynamic Gnomon
Starting out with the “What’s New” pdf, it is pretty clear what CNC Software is selling this release on, and from 1st look of things this is a enhancement. A 3D gnomon, triad or “What’s up, down, left and right” thing that you can use for translate and rotate geometry, but more encouraging it is the new way of setting Tool Planes, Construction Planes and as a Solidworks user, setting WCS (“Work Coordinate System”) looks like this could be the end of “Save As” Parasolid in Solidworks.
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Wireframe Feature Recognition in Chaining
This is the intelligent running in your software, you chain one shape and the software within user setup parameters such as Identical, smaller perimeter or bigger perimeter it will include those chains for you. I can see this being powerful on a big cavity mold where the WEDM programmer is sitting crossed eyed starring on the screen at similar shapes tossed in every direction.

The clean new windows came
As suspected the menus there was introduced in FBM and FBD back in August 2008 with MastercamX3 (called tree-style dialogs) is now standard for 2D Mill toolpaths. I am looking forward to explore these further, I’m not sure if you can call it an improvement but it defiantly have a more clean and wizard like feel to it.
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The lathe department got……
The news is……..the capability to create a simple 2D turn profile from a complex Solid model. Control feedrate on the 1st plunge, Corner dwell on finish passes, and Multiple Chains Grooving Option plus more….
lathe

You can swing your router around……..
More control with Bump Nesting (a feature that also should be available in WEDM) it will let you copy, rotate, move and delete the part geometry within you nesting area, and also the cutoff nesting has gotten a Horizontal and Vertical control function.

Thread you WEDM and burn……….
Here I hope you got an Agie and are using Agievision because it has received its own customizable interface. Mastercam Wire will show familiar Agievision parameter pages, With this no Agie child will be left behind.
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1st Impression
From a install standpoint everything went pretty smooth thanks to a sharp John Paris on emastercam.com who quickly got the steps for the post update documented.
I am looking forward to play a little more with the “triad gnomon” and go through some of the tutorials, and there will for sure come more from this side of the camp fire in regards to opinions about MastercamX4.
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MastercamX4 Live Tour…..eehhh..Seriously?

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Alright, I really want to be on top of the wave about MastercamX4 being on the door step, but I can not link from this page without commenting about this “Live Tour” thing. Looking at what in my opinion is one of the worst attempt to get excitement rolling for a new software release.

Check out Mastercams MastercamX4 Live on Tour

Seriously, friends at CNC Software did you make this video to play on the big screen at a NASCAR race, or on a TV monitor in the back at my local auto part store?
1). The music just makes you scrabble for the mute button
2). Milling, Milling and Milling, one screen shoot from Mastercam that last 1 second, no picture or video of WEDM, Router, Lathe or Art? quick screen shots of the lengthy video there is linked to would have been nice.
3). “The lights dim. The stirring crowd erupts” We pay maintenance fee’s now for this software, I am looking forward to see what I get for the money, but I am not going to camp out in front of my reseller 48 hours before the release like a 13 year teenage girl at a Jonas Brothers concert.

I understand that this might was attended to be a low budget pre-press thing, and I really do not want to offend anyone at CNC Software, but I have a hard time using words like “Professional” or “Cutting edge” about a new product release after seeing this.

It need to be a little more class and thought next time if Mastercam want to be considered a professional high end product.