Delcam to show fastest-ever PowerMILL on HP at IMTS


Delcam will demonstrate the unrivalled levels of productivity that are possible when using its PowerMILL CAM system for high-speed and five-axis machining on the latest HP hardware at the IMTS exhibition to be held in Chicago from 13th to 17th September.  The Delcam software takes full advantage of HP’s latest hardware developments to give faster calculation times and higher productivity to any company needing to program sophisticated milling machines, either for toolmaking or for production machining.

Most importantly, PowerMILL 2010 is the first version of the software to support 64-bit hardware.  64-bit technology removes the memory limitations of 32-bit computers so allowing more efficient toolpath generation, especially for companies machining large or complex parts. 

The 2010 release also improves user productivity by taking advantage of both background-processing and multi-threading technologies.  Background processing allows programmers to prepare data in the foreground while calculating toolpaths in the background.  This eliminates the need for the user to wait for each calculation to be completed before he can start preparing the next operation.  For example, it is no longer necessary to wait for a complete roughing path to be produced before work starts on programming the rest-roughing operation.  Similarly, the user can be setting the parameters needed to machine one area of a part, while toolpaths are being calculated in the background for machining a second area with a different strategy.

Productivity is also increased because the computer can continue with a series of calculations during the user’s breaks or even overnight.  Calculations can be queued by the operator and the software will automatically start the next operation as soon as each toolpath is generated.  This approach can be used with single core equipment but the benefits are far greater with computers having two or more cores.

The multi-threading capabilities allow individual calculations to be divided between the cores in a multi-core machine.  PowerMILL is believed to be the only CAM program that allows multi-threading to be used simultaneously on both the foreground and the background calculations.  This reduces calculation times significantly, minimising any down-time where machine tools are waiting for NC data. 

The extent of the savings will depend on the size and complexity of the part being machined and on the programming strategies being used.  Tests at Delcam indicate that a dual core computer will perform raster machining calculations in around 55% of the time taken by a single core machine.  A quad core machine will complete the calculation in around 35% of the time and an eight core machine in around 25% of the time.  For a typical operator, undertaking toolpath calculations for about half of each daily shift, this would translate into savings of close to $30,000 per year from moving to PowerMILL on a quad-core machine.  A company with four programmers could, therefore, save well over $100,000 in twelve months.

In addition to the hardware-related performance improvements, PowerMILL 2010 includes more than 50 other major enhancements to give faster and easier programming, more efficient toolpaths and better surface quality in the finished parts.  This is the largest number of improvements in a single release for over five years.  It reflects the continued high levels of investment in product development at Delcam, the employer of the largest development team in the CAM industry.

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