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NewsDesk Software: New Vortex Roughing Algorithm to Speed Up Machining Productivity

 Colin Jones

Colin Jones
is PowerMILL software development manager, Delcam plc (Birmingham, UK), a developer of CAD/CAM and inspection software.


Manufacturing Engineering: How soon will users see the new Vortex roughing algorithm in PowerMILL and Delcam’s other CAM systems?

Colin Jones: We are anticipating that users will see the new Vortex roughing algorithm in the PowerMILL 2013 R2 later this year. As soon as it is released, like other new release information, it will be posted on our learning zone so users can learn more about it by watching an instructional video at Delcam Product Learning Zones teach users about all the new improvements in the software as soon as they are released through a series of instructional What’s New videos that can be downloaded and shared with colleagues. Vortex also will be added later in FeatureCAM and PartMaker after the release in PowerMILL.

ME: What does the Vortex functionality offer users looking to improve productivity?

Jones: Vortex maintains the optimum cutting conditions for the entire toolpath that would normally be possible only for the straight-line moves. As a result, the cutting time is shorter, while cutting will be undertaken at a more consistent volume-removal rate and feed rate, protecting the machine. Because Vortex toolpaths have a controlled-engagement angle, tools will never be overloaded and so will achieve the maximum tool life. Shock loading caused by changes in the contact angle is eliminated, preventing chipping of the flutes. In addition, the stability of the cutting conditions gives constant edge temperatures, prolonging the life of the tool coating and removing heat damage to the surface of the part. Finally, the ability to use step-downs of up to two or even three times the tool diameter spreads the tool wear evenly over the cutting surface of the tool, again contributing to longer tool life.

ME: How does the patent-pending Vortex differ from other high-speed roughing techniques in the industry?

Jones: Unlike other high-speed roughing techniques that aim to maintain a constant theoretical metal-removal rate, the Vortex strategy produces toolpaths with a controlled engagement angle for the complete operation. This allows more consistent feeds and speeds to be used. Varying the feeds and speeds as the cutter moves around the model increases wear on the cutter and the machine tool.

ME: How will this development benefit machinists in aerospace manufacturing?

Jones: The benefits of using Vortex are greater when machining harder materials. These include many of the specialist materials used in aerospace manufacturing, such as titanium and Inconel.

ME: What other CAM developments are helping aerospace builders?

Jones: Simultaneous five-axis capabilities have been available in most CAM systems for some years, so these functions should already be used by aerospace companies to reduce the number of setups to increase productivity and accuracy. Enhancements will continue to give faster calculation times and improved simulation, but Delcam doesn’t anticipate more fundamental developments. There will probably be more changes in software for multitasking machines, to keep up with the increasingly sophisticated equipment being produced by the machine-tool builders. Adaptive machining is more specialized, since it requires capabilities in both machining and inspection and it also needs more customization for a specific application. Delcam will continue to make this customization easier to implement, alongside further development of both its machining and inspection software.

ME: How is the business climate looking for this year?

Jones: Delcam had a fantastic year, announcing record orders in December 2012, more than 10% over December 2011, and we’re planning for an even better year in 2013. The growth came not only from our well-established markets in automotive and aerospace, but also from new markets such as dental. Most manufacturing industries, especially automotive, aerospace, and oil and gas, look set for further growth, which will help to boost the whole CAM industry. Delcam’s growing reputation for excellent software, high rate of technical development, and outstanding support should allow us to gain further market share. ME

New Releases

CNC Software Inc. (Tolland, CT) announced Jan. 14 that it would unveil its new Mastercam X7 for SolidWorks software at the Jan. 20–23 SolidWorks World 2013 held in Orlando, FL.

Mastercam X7 for SolidWorks adds significant new capabilities including lathe support, workflow improvements, the new 3D HST Project toolpath, and more. The package introduces many of Mastercam Lathe’s toolpaths including several types of roughing toolpaths to quickly remove large amounts of stocks; finish toolpaths to follow the contour of chained geometry; groove toolpaths for machining indented or recessed areas; a new Dynamic Rough toolpath designed for hard materials; and Plunge Turn for special plunge turn tools only, specifically the ISCAR plunge and turn inserts.

A new Tool Manager has been designed from the ground up as a flexible and efficient way to manage tools and toolholding components and to create tool assemblies. It integrates work material and cut parameter data so users can take advantage of a manufacturer’s cutting recommendations. Other key features include the 3D HST Project Toolpath, which projects either geometry or a toolpath from an earlier operation onto surfaces; a new editor, Code Expert; a five-axis Oscillating tool motion that improves tool life; and the Backplot and Verify utilities with more efficient workflow, better analysis tools, and more comprehensive toolpath support.


Autodesk Inc. (San Rafael, CA), developer of AutoCAD, announced Jan. 31 that it has completed the acquisition of technology and the development team of Allpoint Systems LLC (Pittsburgh, PA), a developer of software and solutions for collecting and processing LiDAR (laser) point cloud data. The Allpoint Systems acquisition will help Autodesk expand the development of cloud-based reality capture software and solutions. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Allpoint Systems offers software and data processing solutions for collecting and processing LiDAR data to the roadway and building markets. Autodesk said the acquired technology and team will bring significant data registration, automation and robotics technology and expertise to help expand Autodesk’s portfolio of reality capture software. The Allpoint Systems technology complements existing Autodesk capabilities, including recently acquired technology from Alice Labs and RealViz.

Vero UK Ltd. (Cheltenham, UK) closed its second acquisition in a month, announcing on Feb. 8 that it completed the purchase of the SurfCAM assets of Surfware Inc. (Camarillo, CA). Vero also announced on Jan. 7 that it acquired Sescoi International (Macon, France), developer of the WorkNC product suite that includes two- to five-axis NC machining software. No financial terms for either transaction were disclosed.

Founded in 1988 by Alan Diehl and his son Larry, Surfware will be renamed TrueMill Inc., according to Vero, and the company will continue to develop and license the patented TrueMill technology. Sescoi, founded in 1987, develops and distributes the WorkNC CAD/CAM software for NC machining, the WorkXPlore 3D collaborative viewer, and the WorkPLAN Solutions for ERP and job management.

AwardsWVTHS students learn manufacturing skills through a hands-on curriculum.

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) Educational Foundation (Dearborn, MI) has named Westfield Vocational Technical High School (WVTHS; Westfield, MA) one of nine exemplary schools that are collaborating, networking and creating partnerships with local manufacturers and community colleges. SME will provide $35,000 in funding to support post-secondary scholarships, equipment upgrades and continuing education for instructors at WVTHS through its Partnership Response in Manufacturing (PRIME) program. WVTHS has created partnerships with precision manufacturing companies in its area that provide internships for students and have formed a waiting list to hire its graduates.

A key part of the school’s curriculum is encouraging students to bring their ideas to life by using Delcam’s FeatureCAM software to create programs to build parts on CNC machines. “FeatureCAM software is very intuitive to learn and the kids do amazing things with it,” said Clement “Clem” Fucci, Manufacturing Department Chair, who has devoted more than 30 years to WVTHS. “We believe our program is only as good as its graduating students. Their success in manufacturing has made our program what it is today.”

Since 1911, Westfield has recognized occupational education as an integral part of its public school system and its support of this form of education is exemplified by its modern vocational education facility that prepares students for jobs in modern industry. Today, 32% of all employment in Westfield comes from manufacturing jobs. The school’s manufacturing technology department has been an important partner in training students for employment among the many manufacturing companies in Western Massachusetts. Small class size offers individualized instruction and attention and a co-operative education program offers students on-the-job training while still in school.

Edited by Senior Editor Patrick Waurzyniak:


This article was first published in the March 2013 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine. Click here for PDF

Published Date : 3/1/2013

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