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Digital Twin Powers Accurate Program Simulation

Chuck Mathews Executive Vice President  DP Technology Corp.  Camarillo, Calif.
By Chuck Mathews Executive Vice President, CMO, CTO, ESPRIT CAM, part of Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence

Manufacturing Engineering: What are some of the latest trends in CAD/CAM software?

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Simulation and verification in DP Technology’s ESPRIT CAM software helps manufacturers speed up design and manufacture of new products, according to the developer.

Chuck Mathews: What makes a CAM system “good,” in our opinion, is the quality of its post processor and the technical support provided by the vendor. When programming questions are answered quickly and accurately, and the system produces good code, programming is simplified and machine utilization goes up, while both setup and cycle times drop. As a trend in CAM, ESPRIT (developed by DP Technology) is striving to provide the world’s best post processing and technical support. The ESPRIT strategy is to work closely with machine tool builders to build a digital twin of each CNC that includes a CAD model of the CNC and tooling for accurate program simulation, and create post processors designed to output machine-optimized, edit-free G-code. ESPRIT then backs up the solution by providing factory-direct training and technical support to all its North American customers via its team of dedicated ESPRIT application engineers.

An ongoing trend worth discussing (because many shops have yet to fully utilize it) is high-speed machining. Within ESPRIT, high-speed machining is called ProfitMilling, a universal high-speed roughing cycle for two- to five-axis milling that requires no extra investments in specialized cutting tools, workholding, spindles, or machines. This cutting cycle is designed to reduce loads on CNC machines, drives, and spindles. Therefore, it can even be used on light-duty machines. ProfitMilling is proven to work on most materials, with added value in Inconel, titanium and others where the chip is hard to break. The combination of optimized toolpaths cutting at full depth with reduced radial engagement results in improved cutting performance and shorter cycle times. These techniques also transfer more heat to the chip instead of the tool and the workpiece, reducing the temperature at the cutting zone and extending tool life.

ME: What’s new in the latest version of DP Technology’s ESPRIT CAM software?

Mathews: New to ESPRIT is its machine-aware CAM programming, a change in the way CNC machines are driven. Machine-aware programming simplifies the programming while increasing tool life, reducing cycle times and improving machine performance. ESPRIT’s patent-pending machine-aware algorithms use a digital twin of the CNC machine, tooling, and workholding to drive advanced and beneficial features for CNC programming, optimization, and simulation.

Using ESPRIT’s new multiaxis 3+2 probing along with CNC machines outfitted with touch probes, shops will benefit with increased throughput on existing equipment while reducing operator intervention. ESPRIT now provides a natural workflow for workpiece location, misload detection, dynamic tool offsets, and on-machine inspection. Within ESPRIT, a probing cycle is created and treated like all other machining cycles, including the use of the workplane to determine probe orientation, automatic cycle selection based on selected geometry, and previews of the probing patterns.

The simulation shows exactly what will happen at the machine before you ever cut a chip, including the movement of the probing routines and the additive and subtractive cycles, providing a preview of the entire machining process. ESPRIT’s universal approach to probing eliminates the need to understand the details of the machine’s probing cycles and their parameters by delivering edit-free G-code for any NC machine, control, and touch probe manufacturer.

ESPRIT’s adaptive machining cycles provide complete flexibility to perform all milling, turning, inspection, additive, and part-handling cycles, on any class of CNC mill, lathe, Swiss-type, or mill-turn machine. This all-in-one approach provides one software and one common user interface for the entire CNC program for any machine in the shop. Adapting to setup and process changes, ESPRIT dynamically optimizes toolpaths based on the real-time state of the stock, eliminating air cuts and minimizing repositioning, thereby further improving cycle times.

High-performance cycles—including ProfitMilling for two- to five-axis high-speed roughing and ProfitTurning for high-speed turning, facing, and grooving—yield shorter cycle times and longer tool life than traditional cutting techniques used by most CAM software. They achieve this by monitoring tool loads and optimizing cutting speeds.

ME: How are technologies like generative design, additive manufacturing and other features affecting CAD/CAM software and its users in the discrete manufacturing industries?

Mathews: The additive manufacturing trend is leading us toward hybrid CAM systems. As an example, ESPRIT Additive for direct energy deposition is available within the full-spectrum ESPRIT CAM system, offering programming, optimization, and simulation for additive and subtractive processes in one integrated solution. ESPRIT provides programming for multitasking, multi-function, multi-channel, mill-turn, additive, and subtractive machine tools. Additive and subtractive processes are programmed, optimized, and simulated together within a single ESPRIT interface.

ME: What are some of the driving forces for CAD users and CAM users?

Mathews: Our driving force is to improve the collaboration between design (CAD) and manufacturing (CAM) systems by providing high-fidelity data to the CAM programmer. Knowledge of the part is used to simplify programming. This is what we call model-driven machining.

“The additive manufacturing trend is leading us toward hybrid CAM systems.”

Starting from the CAD model, ESPRIT’s intelligent feature recognition will analyze the part geometry, identifying the machinable features from the part model. Along with the features, properties such as depth, draft, and hole style are used by the toolpath cycles to minimize the information that must be manually entered, thereby speeding the process and reducing chances for errors. Each feature is automatically associated to a workplane that may be used to drive a fourth or fifth axis, orienting the workpiece prior to activating the machining cycle. If the CAD model is updated, the associated machinable features and their toolpath are automatically updated to reflect the changes to the geometry.

One recent advancement is the availability within ESPRIT of the product and manufacturing information (PMI, or 3D PMI) that is defined in the CAD system. PMI may include design definition data, analytical data, manufacturing data, and inspection data. This information is used to guide the CNC programmer and further automate the programming process.

Hexagon Updates PC-DMIS 2020 Software

Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, North Kingstown, R.I., announced its latest PC-DMIS 2020 R1 metrology software, which adds new features for portable measuring arm operators and those who scan and create point cloud data.

The latest PC-DMIS 2020 R1 metrology software adds new features including a point-cloud noise reduction filter that automatically removes any points too far away from the global cloud.

The PC-DMIS 2020 R1 measurement software comes with a new feature, Guided Portable Execution, that streamlines creation and execution of contact Auto Features. This capability guides the user through the measurements, showing where points need to be taken in red and points already captured in green.

For users of scanning devices, operators can now show the point cloud data as a mesh display, selecting a pre-defined profile with one click from the portable scanning widget toolbar. The new point cloud noise reduction filter automatically removes any points too far away from the global cloud. The user can adjust the sensitivity of the filter, offering the right level for each task.

PC-DMIS 2020 R1 also offers improvements to existing features. The Protect feature—introduced in PC-DMIS 2019 R1 to help PC-DMIS users version control their measurement routines and add levels of traceability to their processes— has been enhanced with the addition of a new Supervisor role. This helps companies that follow a multi-level approval process, enabling restrictions on who has the authority to certify or reject measurement routine changes submitted by the programmer.

This is the first of two major PC-DMIS releases scheduled for 2020, with continued service pack updates to ensure maximum reliability of the platform. PC-DMIS 2020 R1 is available to download immediately from or through Universal Updater.

AIM Updates its ERP Software

AIM Computer Solutions Inc., a Fraser, Mich.-based provider of enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and business consulting, has released an update of its AIM Vision Rev 11B Service Pack 11 software. Designed for small to mid-size repetitive automotive suppliers, the AIM Vision ERP solution focuses on EDI and bar code labeling applications. It includes embedded business logic for more than 450 OEM and sub-tier trading partners with more than 1,800 AIAG standardized bar code label formats.

Service Pack 11 includes enhancements in three major application categories: Scheduling, Manufacturing, and Orders applications. Scheduling includes production schedules, material requirements planning, capacity requirements planning, and digital whiteboard; Manufacturing features multiple parts per tooling ID; and Orders includes a Destination Master and Blanket PO entry detail. In addition, the AIM Mobility manufacturing execution system (MES) app is now able to manage and execute more capabilities through its Workcenter Load and Workcenter apps.

AIM is an Epicor Silver Partner and provides Epicor ERP solutions and implementation assistance for project-based manufacturing, including AutoCOR, an ERP solution for mid-size to large automotive suppliers running Epicor v10.

Siemens Releases New Simcenter STAR-CCM+

Siemens Digital Industries Software, Plano, Texas, announced the latest release of its Simcenter STAR-CCM+ software, a solution for computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and multiphysics simulation. Simcenter and Simcenter STAR-CCM+ are part of Xcelerator, Siemens’ integrated portfolio of software, services and application development platform.

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Siemens’ latest Simcenter STAR-CCM+ software, part of the Simcenter simulation and test portfolio, is an integrated solution for computational fluid dynamics and multiphysics simulation.

The latest release of Simcenter STAR-CCM+ includes enhancements to improve simulation time and accuracy as well as enhance collaboration. In this release, Siemens is introducing a new parallel polyhedral mesher for faster, more effective meshing, as well as a model-driven adaptive mesh refinement (AMR) solution. The latest release also includes automatic coupled solver control, which reduces setup time while improving convergence speed. It also includes a collaborative virtual reality (VR) feature in a CFD code for enhanced team collaboration on simulation results.

Automatic solver controls improve the ease of use and robustness of the coupled solver, according to Siemens. This delivers faster convergence-to-solution, giving users additional speedup for all flow regimes. Collaborative VR in Simcenter STAR-CCM+ allows teams across the globe to interact in the same immersive, virtual environment in real time. Multiple VR clients can now be connected and synchronized to the same simulation, with avatars showing the location of other users and providing the ability to tether users to get the same experience.

Manufacturers’ Sim Spending Accelerates

Simulation software traditionally was only used to tweak production lines, but today simulation is widely used to test new concepts, accelerate product development, and demonstrate regulatory compliance.

These new uses will boost manufacturers’ annual spending on simulation software to $2.6 billion in 2025, according to “Industrial Simulation Use Cases: How Simulation Software Benefits Manufacturers’ Operations,” a new report from the London-based global tech market advisory firm ABI Research.

Manufacturers often invest in simulation software only when there is uncertainty about making changes to a production line or when building a brand-new line is too expensive, according to ABI Research.

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Simulation software spending by manufacturers is forecasted to reach $2.5 billion by 2025, according to ABI Research. Siemens’ simulation software solution for robotic automation is shown here.

“But now, new use cases have proven that by investing in simulation software, manufacturers can identify and solve issues in advance,” said ABI Research Principal Analyst Michael Larner. “Simulation software can also be used to simulate how components work together in creating new products and simulating process flows to demonstrate compliance.”

There are several notable use cases for simulation software. AnyLogic helped General Dynamics NASSCO, a Master Ship Repair contractor for the U.S. Navy, improve its handling of the thousands of parts flowing though shipyards. Siemens’ modeling of Electrolux’s factories identified opportunities for operational efficiency improvement. Dassault Systèmes is helping Global Trailers accelerate processes for bringing new trailers to market. At the same time, AspenTech developed a solution for Fluor, an engineering and construction firm, to demonstrate that its sulfur-tracking technologies help gas plants meet environmental requirements.

The more complex the production line and the engineering process, the greater the demand for simulation software. “Testing in the digital world before going live on the factory floor becomes critical when mistakes are possible and expensive to rectify,” said Larner.

Manufacturers are taking note. The global total for the number of simulation software users will grow from 60,000 in 2018 to 110,000 at the end of 2025 and 172,000 at the end of 2030, according to ABI Research. “The strongest argument for simulation software is about ROI. The financial and reputational costs associated with a failure on the production line can be catastrophic,” Larner concluded.

Discus Signs Partnership with Adaptive Corp.

Discus Software Co., Columbus, Ohio, a developer of first-article inspection software, has signed a premier authorized partnership agreement with Hudson, Ohio-based Adaptive Corp. Under the agreement, Adaptive will sell and support Discus’ first-article inspection (FAI) software solutions to industries that have stringent quality requirements.

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Quality engineers can use Discus desktop software for first-article inspection in the process of creating custom data packages for manufacturing customers.

Discus focuses on automating FAI. Many manufacturers spend a great deal of time converting customer data packages, including CAD models, drawings, or specifications, into internal documentation. Quality engineers create inspection plans and FAI reports, and manufacturing engineers create process plans: manual transcription of this data is laborious.

“We selected Adaptive as our first U.S. premier authorized partner because of their ability to deliver a closed-loop solution for FAI, as well as additional services, such as the capture and tracking of statistical process control (SPC) data,” said Jake Hart, director of sales and marketing for Discus.

Compliance with various FAI expectations of customers, such as AS9100 in aerospace and PPAP in automotive, is essential for manufacturers. Discus’ modular software tools can reduce the labor effort for AS9100, PPAP, TS16949, and Part 820 quality and manufacturing planning, according to the company.

Mastercam 2020 Multiaxis Add-On Released

Multiaxis machining can dramatically increase a shop’s competitiveness, and CNC Software Inc., Tolland, Conn., has released a new module focused on this operation. Mastercam Multiaxis is an add-on for Mastercam Mill 3D, Router 3D, Mill-Turn, and Mastercam for SOLIDWORKS. It improves productivity with simultaneous four- and five-axis machining capability for Mastercam, according to the developer. Mastercam Multiaxis offers multiaxis machining strategies both basic and advanced. These toolpaths, outlined below, are also useful for three-axis machines:

Mastercam Multiaxis is an add-on for several Mastercam operations.

Cut Patterns guide the tool along specified paths. These patterns can be simple 2D and 3D wireframe, solid primitives, or complex multi-surface grids.

Tool Axis Control allows orientation of the tool’s center axis to be manipulated as it follows the cut pattern. Users have dynamic control over the tool axis, lead/lag, entry/exit, and tilt, which simplifies even difficult multiaxis jobs, according to CNC Software.

Collision Control: When programming five-axis parts, it is often necessary to come close to the part or fixture with the cutter, arbor, or holder. Mastercam provides “near miss tolerance” fields for users to specify how close they want to get with any part of the tool and how to avoid those situations.

Blade Expert Add-On simplifies toolpath creation for multi-bladed parts, including fans, propellers, impellers, turbines, and marine screws.

Port Expert Add-On creates engine cylinder head porting toolpaths on port surface or solid data. These toolpaths use three-axis machining as far into the port as possible, then convert automatically to five-axis motion with minimum tilt. This avoids fishtails or inefficient reverse moves and transitions where the toolpaths meet at the middle of the port.

Dynamic Motion and Accelerated Finishing: Dynamic Motion extends tool life with toolpath strategies that maximize material removal rate and reduce cycle times, and Accelerated Finishing uses profile tools and processes aimed at greater efficiency and higher machining productivity.

Software Update is edited by Contributing Editor Patrick Waurzyniak; contact him at

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