Delcam will show the latest developments in its PowerSHAPE Pro CAD software for modelling of both components and tooling, and PowerMILL CAM system for high-speed and five-axis machining, to the composite industry at Composites Manufacturing 2011, to be held from 12th to 14th April at the Dayton Convention Center in Dayton, Ohio. At the exhibition, Delcam will show how it’s advanced manufacturing solutions can help companies to meet the industry’s requirements for the highest levels of quality and consistency.
"The changing patterns in materials use, especially in the aerospace industry, offer both threats and opportunities to component manufacturers and the toolmakers that support them,” claimed Brett Hopkins from Delcam Professional Services. "In particular, companies that have been hit by the decline in the North American toolmaking sector could find new opportunities in the composites area. Their skills in producing complex injection moulds could be transferred relatively easily to the manufacture of tooling for compression moulding and reaction injection moulding of composites. Similarly, firms that have traditionally made models and patterns for the metals industry could turn to producing similar items for composites manufacture. Delcam has both the software and services to help companies to make this transition.”
A key element in composite manufacture is in developing the shapes the initial sheet of material should be cut to. To help with this, Delcam’s PowerSHAPE has unique wizards that guide the user step-by-step through the process of ‘flattening’ a complex 3D shape. The unwrapped pieces can then be modified to allow for edge overlaps, joints etc., before being nested together to create the optimum cutting pattern.
For 3D modelling of tooling, PowerSHAPE Pro provides a number of alternative methods for constructing a surface from a given set of lines, arcs or points. With Smart Surfacing inside PowerSHAPE, the choice of method to give the best possible surface is made automatically by the software. If the user is unhappy with the automatic selection, or is simply curious to see other options, he can scroll through the alternative solutions. However, perhaps the most impressive thing about Smart Surfacing is that the software’s surfacing method is updated automatically as extra information is added to the selection. As any additional lines or points are selected, the chosen surfacing method is reviewed and the surface regenerated if an alternative solution has become more appropriate.
Any set of surfaces can be converted into a finished model with a variety of powerful and reliable filleting and blending commands. The user simply needs to specify the desired fillet radius and the software will show a series of tracks where fillets of that size will fit. Some or all of the possible fillets can then be created with a single command. In PowerSHAPE Pro, even variable-radius fillets and intersecting or overlapping fillets can be created quickly and easily.
The other main focus in the industry has been on improving the production time. Many composite components are still only made to approximate sizes and are then trimmed manually to their final size during assembly. This process is both time-consuming and inaccurate. Delcam believes that composite manufacturers must be able to produce parts to similar levels of accuracy and consistency as suppliers of metal components before the materials can hope to achieve their true market potential, and that the company’s range of CADCAM software can help meet these objectives.