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New Additive Module Offers Accurate Simulation, Verification and Optimization of AM Processes

Pat Waurzyniak
By Patrick Waurzyniak Contributing Editor, SME Media

Manufacturing Engineering: Your company recently released a new additive manufacturing module for Vericut. What’s new for additive in this version?

Gene Granata: Vericut 8.1 includes a new additive manufacturing [AM] module that simulates additive and hybrid machining processes used in any order, and on any brand NC machine. AM has reached a maturity level and has proven to be a valuable addition to manufacturing strategies. Vericut has long been known for simulating all types of traditional machining, and the additive module extends that capability to accurately show material deposition, while checking for collisions between machine, laser and other additive components and the additive part being built. Additive functions, such as laser activity/power, material feed, gas use, etc., are constantly monitored and error notifications inform users when conditions are incorrect for material deposition.

ME: How critical is simulation for users of AM processes?

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Gene Granata
Vericut Product Manager
CGTech (Irvine, CA)

Granata: As AM adopters experiment with new hybrid manufacturing methods, or search for new additive-capable equipment, they can quickly find themselves in unknown situations. Simulation is essential for ‘seeing’ if these new methods and strategies will successfully create a good part, and do so as efficiently as possible. Hybrid machines are typically expensive, and usually in limited supply at a given company. Repair parts or technicians for laser and other additive equipment can be difficult [or impossible] to find when you need them. Simulation is the best way to protect against potential collisions, ensure additive equipment is used correctly and within proper ranges for the material being deposited.

ME: What can an AM user do with high-end simulations that are key to the additive process?
Granata: Users must be able to add, cut, add some more, etc., in any order, to experiment with how best to create parts via additive or hybrid processes. Depending on the additive equipment available, sites may choose to plan all operations on hybrid machines, or use 3D printers that build parts to near-net shape, followed by post-processing machining. Vericut’s unique droplet technology incorporates history embedded in all material added, as well as each machine cut. This information saves programmers time by enabling users to determine the exact source of errors identified by simulation, voids left in material or material added in wrong location. Simulation times are provided for all operations, which help users determine optimal manufacturing methods for each part.

Simulation is also valuable for investigating and comparing capabilities of equipment that hasn’t been purchased yet, or is being considered for the future. Any machine can be built and virtually tested via Manual Data Input [MDI] commands or test NC programs to ensure everything will work as expected. The first trial run on the machine is not when anyone wants to learn that the machine or laser equipment can’t reach where it needs to, resulting in a mad scramble to come up with a new manufacturing process.

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A laser cladding operation simulated in the new Additive module in CGTech’s latest Vericut 8.1 simulation, verification and optimization software.

ME: What are some technical hurdles for this type of simulation?

Granata: For the most accurate results, it’s imperative that the simulation be driven by the same NC toolpath and codes that will control the NC machine. Vericut already has a highly configurable and machine-agnostic core capable of interpreting and simulating just about any CNC machine command. For 8.1, Vericut can also process additive commands such as laser power and on/off control, material feed, gas utilization, and when conditions are correct for material deposition to occur. This allows Vericut to virtually simulate any additive or hybrid type of machine and robotic applications, and it can simulate multi-setup environments where traditional cutting machines are used in post-processing operations. With programmers bouncing back and forth between adding and cutting, the simulation also needs to have a realistic appearance for deposited material to make it easy to identify the difference between deposited material and machined features.

ME: How difficult is it to adapt Vericut’s NC simulation, verification, and optimization for this area?

Granata: For users that already have machine and control building skills in Vericut, the process of creating additive-capable machines is a familiar one. The aforementioned additive commands [laser power and on/off control, material feed, etc.] are easily configured by mapping the various NC codes to their respective additive functions in Vericut’s control configuration. For customers that don’t have time, or this level of experience, CGTech offers professional services to provide pre-configured machine simulations, or customized training to teach users how to build machines, get the most from simulation, optimize their NC programs, or help with automation.

ME: What customers are currently using the additive module, and how are they using it?

Granata: Vericut’s Additive module simulates most popular additive processes, such as direct metal deposition, laser sintering, 3D printing, wire deposition, and more. AM has been widely adopted by the aerospace, moldmaking, automotive, and medical industries, especially for creating titanium, Inconel, stainless steel and other metallic parts as well as carbon fiber/composites parts and tooling. A number of research and educational sites need to simulate the processes they are using, or developing. The Additive module is particularly well-suited for companies that already use Vericut. The 8.1 release will provide additive-capable Vericut, and the Additive module is all that is needed to start simulating additive and hybrid processes.

ME: What partners in additive with hybrid machines contributed to this development?

Granata: CGTech is fortunate to have an extensive network of relationships with machine tool builders, many of which have developed hybrid machining centers, DMG Mori, Mazak and Okuma, to name a few. We have also had great input from laser equipment and laser deposition head manufacturers to help us confirm that Vericut’s additive simulation is on-point for assisting our mutual customers with their unique AM needs and challenges. Collaborative partners are able to use the simulation to demonstrate their machine’s capabilities to prospective buyers, and that software is an essential component to visualize and verify additive/hybrid operations, and prevent costly mistakes or crashes before they occur.

New Releases

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New application lifecycle management (ALM) software solutions from Siemens PLM Software include the Polarion Connect for Teamcenter, integrating ALM with PLM solutions.

Siemens PLM Software (Plano, TX) has announced its new Integrated Software Engineering solution for the automotive industry, which addresses several key product development challenges associated with the explosive growth of embedded software in automobiles.

By integrating application lifecycle management (ALM) software with product lifecycle management (PLM) software, Siemens is delivering a solution for the automotive industry to manage the inherently different lifecycles of electro-mechanical systems and the development of software used to control those physical systems. As a result, automotive companies can enhance software functionality and traceability, while improving overall product quality and reducing automotive recalls associated with embedded software.

“As cars get more sophisticated—with features like collision avoidance, automatic parallel parking, and the advent of self-driving autonomous vehicles—the need for software to control these functions will continue to accelerate, resulting in increased challenges for product development,” Dave Lauzun, vice president, Automotive & Transportation, Siemens PLM Software said in a statement. “By integrating ALM and its ability to manage the embedded software development process with PLM’s capacity to manage physical systems, Siemens is providing a way for automotive companies to more rapidly, efficiently and accurately develop the mechatronic systems that will power the future of transportation.”

The new automotive solution includes Polarion Connect for Teamcenter, leveraging technology that Siemens acquired in 2015 with its purchase of ALM software developer Polarion Software. The release is the first in a series of announcements about the Digital Enterprise Industry Solutions developed by Siemens’ PLM Software business.

The new SmartCAM v2017 Service Pack 1 (SP1) from SmartCAMcnc (Hillsboro, OR) is now available with several enhancements and user-requested fixes. The latest update features a new Nibble Draw-Path mode delivered earlier this year in the May update, along with new math functions useful in multiaxis machining.

SmartCAM v2017 update features a new verification module for milling and turning applications that uses proven ModuleWorks simulation technology, as well as improvements related to code output, rotary axis, and user interface. The SmartCAM CAM software family consists of toolpath creation applications for CNC milling, turning, fabrication and wire EDM.

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New verification module in SmartCAM v2017 features ModuleWorks simulation technology for improved accuracy and collision-checking.

The software’s new integrated Verify module replaces the separate ShowPath and ShowCut toolpath and material removal verification functions of previous products. All verification is now performed in the main SmartCAM graphics window. Dynamic viewing and standard system display functionality are fully supported. Toolpath animation and back-plotting can be simultaneously viewed during material-removal simulation. The new SmartCAM verification uses ModuleWorks simulation technology, which offers much improved model accuracy and collision-checking capabilities.

New Insta-Code Thread Mill Programmer from Allied Machine & Engineering (Dover, OH), manufacturer of holemaking and finishing tooling systems, is now available for download. Designed to save shops production time, the software simplifies thread milling program setup and provides pre-production data for planning purposes.

With the cycle time calculator built into the program, Insta-Code allows machinists to preview actual cycle times, and if the thread mill item number is known, the software can create a program instantly. The software can also suggest the best thread mill product for an application, as well as provide internal and external thread programs for multiple machine controller types, including controls from Mazatrol, Siemens, Heidenhain, FANUC or ISO G-Code.

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With the new Insta-Code Thread Mill Programmer, machinists can quickly program threadmilling operations setups to speed productivity on the shop floor.

For those without internet access on the shop floor, the new Insta-Code software can be downloaded to a USB flash drive for direct installation onto computers. The Windows version is now available for download and the mobile app will be coming soon, enabling users to create a program directly on their mobile device. The software is also available in multiple languages. For more information, visit http://www.alliedmachine.com/instacodethreadmillprogrammer.aspx.

Manufacturing software component developer MachineWorks Ltd. (Sheffield, UK) will exhibit new features of MachineWorks version 8.0 at this month’s EMO show Sept. 18-23. Some of the features in the updated MachineWorks include new Surface and Feature detection that allows users to analyze cut surfaces and detect its features.

The updated software enables users to find generic geometrical features like cylinders or spheres (surface detection) or to look for machined features such as drilled holes (feature detection). Both surface and feature detection represent vast time savings when creating CAD data from polygonal data or generating a toolpath.

MachineWorks also has optimized the simulation of sheetmetal bending thanks to new features that provide optimization of collision checking results and performance. Concave shapes in machined parts can present a challenge to collision detection and slow down the results of the checking, typically for U- and L-shapes. The latest MachineWorks release has overcome this problem by adding more automation enabling significant performance improvements on the collision inference.

Another update is a handy feature that allows users to take “snapshots” of a solid, for example the stock, during the course of a simulation and quickly revert to them at will. When programming or editing a toolpath incrementally, this fast ‘undo’ option becomes very useful.

MachineWorks’ new version also offers customers an application programming interface (API) to more efficiently perform a cloud-based simulation. This functionality supports both client and server-side rendering of simulation in real-time as a standard. An improved compression scheme and tools to handle communication and decompression mean that a fast a network connection between client and server is no longer required. There’s also a new client-side library that introduces an API to handle the client-side of the communications, making implementation much easier.

PBScloud.io from Altair Engineering Inc. (Troy, MI) simplifies access to cloud HPC (high-performance computing) with a new turnkey platform for cloud access. PBScloud.io is Altair’s latest appliance solution that enables and expands cloud computing for organizations. The PBScloud.io platform allows users to model, build and run HPC appliances on both public and private clouds, as well as bare-metal infrastructures. PBScloud.io enables users to bring any third-party applications that employ the “bring your own license,” or BYOL model.

Key features in PBScloud.io include multi-cloud management, security and governance, and lifecycle management. For more information, or to try the PBScloud.io for free, go to http://web2.altairhyperworks.com/pbscloud-0.

Software Update is edited by Senior Editor Patrick Waurzyniak.

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