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Delcam’s new PowerMILL offers complete control

21 November 2008

The new release of Delcam’s award-winning PowerMILL CAM software will offer a more complete solution for complex machining operations, together with more control for experienced machinists that know exactly how they wish to machine a particular part. The program will also include a range of enhancements to existing functionality to enable both faster programming and faster machining. Full details on all of these improvements can be found on the PowerMILL web site

A complete solution
“Ever since its first release, PowerMILL has focussed on the more complex parts of any manufacturing operation,” explained Delcam’s CAM Development Director Steve Hobbs. “Many of our toolmaking customers tend to program the simpler tasks, like sizing the starting block of material, and finishing operations, such as cutting off, on the machine tool control rather than by off-line programming. However, as we have become more established in production machining, a growing number of our customers want to program everything with their CAM system. This has always been possible in PowerMILL but the new options in PowerMILL 9 will make the complete programming process much easier.”

Using a completely offline approach to programming gives other benefits as well. Firstly, it ensures that a fully-detailed record is maintained of the whole manufacturing process. This will make it easier for jobs to be repeated by different staff, or even at different locations, and will ensure a consistent approach is maintained whenever and wherever a part is produced subsequently.

Secondly, it makes simulation of the complete process easier and more reliable. The simulation can begin from the starting block of material, rather than the user having to produce a model of the stock remaining after the manually-programmed operations have been completed.

More machining control
Much recent development in PowerMILL has focussed on making the software easier for inexperienced and casual users to generate high-quality toolpaths for high-speed and five-axis machines tools. However, very experienced users tend to know exactly how they want to manufacture a particular part, or undertake a particular operation, and so need greater control over the results that their software can give.

PowerMILL 9 gives them this control by making it easier for experienced users to generate toolpaths based on any 3D curve. This was possible previously using PowerMILL’s pattern machining commands but the new approach makes it easier both to create the required 3D curve and to drive the cutter along it.

Faster programming and machining
PowerMILL 9 includes a range of enhancements to give faster programming and faster machining. “Originally, many customers would buy PowerMILL simply because it was the only CAM system that could machine their components or tooling,” explained Mr. Hobbs. “Now, while there are some other CAM systems that can be used to manufacture complex parts, these cannot match the speed and quality of both programming and machining that our customers can achieve with PowerMILL.”

PowerMILL 9 incorporates a number of improvements to reduce calculation times, together with some simplification of the user interface that makes it easier to select the required command and so makes programming faster. In addition, toolpath ordering has been made more efficient, especially for roughing and rest machining, so ensuring that the cutter spends more time machining and minimal time making air moves.

“These enhancements may not grab as many headlines as completely new machining strategies,” admitted Mr. Hobbs. “However, they are vital to our customers that need to increase their productivity and reduce their lead times to maximise their competitiveness.”

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