Delcam will demonstrate the latest developments in its PowerSHAPE design software and PowerMILL machining system at the JEC exhibition to be held in Paris from 27th to 29th March. Both programs are already used extensively in the marine, aerospace, rail and wind energy sectors of the composites industry for the design and manufacture of models, patterns, moulds and fixtures for component manufacture, and for the finish machining of parts.
The major change to the 2012 release of PowerSHAPE is a range of direct modelling options. Unlike other programs that have incorporated direct modelling as part of a product design system, the PowerSHAPE options are focussed on design for manufacture, in particular on preparing product designs for the development of moulds and other types of tooling.
The new functionality will enable tooling designers to tackle all the common problems that they find in product designs, such as insufficient draft or inappropriate fillet sizes. Direct modelling is faster to use than surface modelling and so can shorten the overall time needed to produce tooling designs. Together with the extensive data translation and data repair options already available in PowerSHAPE, the addition of direct modelling gives a unique range of capabilities to designers developing composite tooling.
The 2012 version of PowerMILL includes a number of new strategies, together with more general enhancements to make programming faster and machining more efficient with the best-possible surface finish. The most important new option is flowline machining, where the toolpath is divided between a pair of drive curves in a constant number of passes, rather than having a varying number of passes with a constant stepover. The toolpath will have its start and end passes on the drive curves, with the intermediate passes blending between them.
This approach gives smoother results since it ensures that each pass travels over the full length of the area, rather than leaving the part or making major changes in direction during the pass. It produces a better surface finish on the part and minimises wear on the cutter and the machine tool.
Another important new option is the ability to control the angular point distribution during five-axis machining. This option can be used to keep the machine tool moving smoothly when there is rapid angular change in one of the rotary axes of the machine tool by increasing the density of the points in these areas.
The user can specify the maximum angle that the tool axis can move between points. Extra points are inserted automatically to ensure the specified maximum angle is not exceeded. This gives a more even movement of the machine and so gives a better surface finish, with no risk of dwell marks. The smoother motion also reduces wear on the machine.