NewsDesk Software: New Roughing Toolpath Strategy Boosts Profits With More Efficient Milling Process
David Bartholomew is product manager, DP Technology Corp. (Camarillo, CA), developer of Esprit CAM software
Manufacturing Engineering: Your company recently introduced ProfitMilling, a patent-pending roughing strategy. Describe this approach.
David Bartholomew: Esprit’s new ProfitMilling strategy is a high-speed material-removal cycle that allows our users to take a significantly deeper, faster and more efficient cut while reducing wear on the tool and machine. Rather than controlling just one parameter, ProfitMilling monitors several vital cutting and machine characteristics. The ProfitMilling toolpath manages chip load and side-cutter force in the calculation of toolpath while keeping the engagement angle and material removal rate within a specific range. It also incorporates dynamic feed-rate changes throughout the toolpath and takes advantage of toolpath optimization for specific machine capabilities.
ME: How does this new feature benefit manufacturers?
Bartholomew: Manufacturers are constantly challenged with intense competition and are continuously looking for ways to produce quality parts in a shorter amount of time, and at reduced cost. Some of the benefits of the new ProfitMilling cycle are a reduction in machine-tool cycle times, increased tool life, decreased programing time, reduced energy consumption and significant productivity improvements—even with light and medium-duty machine tools. We tested this new strategy initially at the University of California, Davis, along with analyses conducted with our customers and machine-tool partners.
Our tests have shown that ProfitMilling typically reduces cycle time by 75% compared to a traditional concentric roughing strategy. Traditional roughing toolpaths are laden with limitations such as sharp corners, high engagement angles, full-width slotting, and constant centerline feed rate, which force parts to be cut conservatively to account for inconsistencies. ProfitMilling removes these restrictions with smooth toolpath blending and transitions, along with a trochoidal slotting strategy. It also takes advantage of corner picking, or the practice of removing less material in corners, which eliminates chatter and keeps a constant tool-engagement angle. Likewise, it optimizes transitional moves with small Z-directional lifts to reduce tool drag. Another significant benefit is an increase in tool life. Due to the constant chip load and predictable cutting forces, we have seen increases in tool life by an average of 500%.
ME: What are some technical details of this toolpath strategy?
Bartholomew: The ProfitMilling algorithm, which is a unique, patent-pending method of calculating the toolpath, is developed considering both tool engagement angle and a constant step over. It also dynamically modifies feed rates and toolpath based on actual Material Removal Rate, chip load, calculated cutter force, and it is optimized for machine kinematics [i.e., rounded corners, no zero-stops]. ProfitMilling, rather than controlling one parameter, is effectively monitoring multiple important cutting and machine characteristics. The toolpath considers primarily chip load and side-cutter force when the toolpath is calculated, but also keeps engagement angle and material removal rate within a specific range. It also incorporates dynamic feed rate changes throughout the toolpath, and allows for toolpath optimizations for specific machine capabilities [accelerations].
ME: What other innovations will users see in Esprit 2013?
Bartholomew: In addition to the new ProfitMilling strategy, among the many upgrades featured in Esprit 2013 are new options for cutting grooves faster and more efficiently, built-in collision avoidance in multiaxis milling, and a completely new, editable and customizable engraving machining cycle. A new plunge setting has been added to the plunge turning cycle. Using a pre-plunge along walls reduces the tool load against walls and cuts wide grooves faster. New collision-detection strategies also have been added to all three- and five-axis milling operations that enable the programmer to detect collisions while toolpath is being calculated instead of during the simulation process. Esprit can also be instructed to recommend the minimal tool length to avoid collision, or to automatically trim away the colliding toolpath and reconnect with appropriate links.
ME: What are users most looking for in CAM software?
Bartholomew: Globally, technology is advancing at an exponential rate and as such, the world has unquestionably changed more in the past 10 years than it had in the previous 50 years. The manufacturing community is, of course, not impervious to this phenomenon. More than ever, it is technological advancement that keeps manufacturers ahead of the competition and investing in more advanced and complex machinery. However, with complex machinery comes inherent programming challenges and, in many cases, these machines are being programmed with ineffective CAM software. Companies and users are realizing that software changes are needed and want a CAM solution that not only supports the latest generation of machine tools, but a full-spectrum CAM capable of programming all of their CNC machines.
ME: How does the business climate look for the upcoming year?
Bartholomew: While it’s impossible to predict the future, DP Technology is pleased to share that we have enjoyed a very healthy business year and we expect this trend to continue. Despite and partly because of the economic downturn, our customers—like all manufacturers—need to remain competitive. Profit as it equates to efficiency, time savings and best practices has always been the bottom line in manufacturing, but the necessity of staying on top of technology in order to thrive becomes increasingly obvious as machine tools and the software that drives them continue to evolve in capability and complexity. ME
Changes in PLM Industry
The rapid pace of technological change in manufacturing took center stage at CIMdata Inc.’s (Ann Arbor, MI) 2012 PLM Road Map annual conference held Oct. 2–3 in Plymouth, MI, focusing on new product lifecycle management (PLM) strategies for managing the manufacturing global IT and engineering enterprise.
Manufacturers seeking the latest engineering tools to manage global product developments presented their approaches to PLM at the conference with the theme Strategic Imperative: Managing Lifecycle Complexity to Drive Competitive Advantage. Among the trends discussed were the impact of lower-cost, cloud-based PLM systems and a “democratization” of simulation with much more widespread use of CAE tools.
“Complexity is driving change, and there’s a need for convergence of CM [configuration management], PLM and Engineering,” said CIMdata President Peter Bilello. “The Brave New World is here and the social-media-savvy workforce is upon us—but is the corporate world ready for this wave of workers who expect instant download of apps and data with little or no training necessary?”
Today’s PLM users are witnessing a convergence of three technology-driven themes, Bilello noted, with the consumerization of IT, availability of mobile information delivery devices, and social media. The consumerization trend also was noted by Mark Johnson, executive technical leader–IT, Ford Motor Co. (Dearborn, MI) in his talk, “Rethinking PLM in a Systems Engineering World.” “Within IT, we are spending a lot of time on consumerization of IT—integrating iPads and dealing with security and legal issues,” Johnson said.
Other speakers included Tristan Gegaden of EADS N.V. (Leiden, The Netherlands), who discussed “Why PLM is Strategic”; Glenn Valine, director, Engineering IS/IT, GKN Driveline, with his discussion, “A Novel Approach to Enterprise PLM Workflows Within CAE Democratization”); and Randy Huber, division manager, Advanced Virtual Product Development (VPD), at Caterpillar Inc., who described the physics-based simulations of Caterpillar’s VPD team in “Simulation: Helping Shape Future Caterpillar Products.”
CAM software developer Delcam plc (Birmingham, UK, and Windsor, ON, Canada) will showcase a new integrated solution for the design, machining and inspection of electrodes this month at the EuroMold show in Frankfurt, Germany. The solution integrates Delcam’s PowerShape CAD, PowerMill CAM and PowerInspect software.
The production of electrodes is a key stage in the manufacture of many types of tooling, including injection molds, so the availability of a faster, more automated method for their development will increase efficiency and reduce lead times.
At the heart of the Delcam solution is a new file format—the .Trode file—which contains the information for each electrode project, including not only the electrode design but also for machining and inspection, plus setup sheets for its manufacture and use. The initial design stage of the process has been made both easier and faster with the increased range of direct modeling tools available within PowerShape. To speed the design process further, catalogs of blanks and holders are included from Erowa, Hirschmann and System 3R, and users can add their own standard sizes to these databases.
Edited by Senior Editor Patrick Waurzyniak: email@example.com.
This article was first published in the November 2012 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine. Click here for PDF.