Improving CAM Programming Efficiency with ZW3D’s Reference Tool

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Improving CAM Programming Efficiency with ZW3D’s Reference Tool


In the previous article “Rest-roughing becomes easier with ZW3D's CAM function”, I introduced to you the ZW3D’s Ref Op function. In this article, I’ll introduce the related Reference Tool feature, which is mainly used in finishing operations. By using this function, you reduce the programming and machining time significantly, as well as getting a very good finishing surface.


Figure 1


Here is an example to show you how this works in ZW3D. The part shown in figure 1 has many smooth, curved surfaces. Suppose we use a 10mm ball end mill for the first finishing operation, then use a 3mm ball end mill for the rest finishing operation. If we were to use drawing ranges to define the rest finishing range, it would become a difficult task, take a lot of time, and then not always provide us with a very good finished surface.


In ZW3D, there is, however, a Reference Tool function that solves these problems, as shown in figure 2. You can find this function in all finish operation parameters dialog box.



Figure 2


 You need only select a tool that was used before, so that the current operation will refer to the previous tool for the rest finishing analysis; it will cut only the rest of the material left from the 10mm ball end mill. The result is a good finishing surface, as shown in figure 3.



Figure 3


ZW3D reduces programming time through this function, because it automatically detects the rest finishing areas. In this simple case, it reduced the programming time by 10 minutes; in more complex cases, the time save can be much more. In addition to this, the Reference Tool cuts machining time by accurate tool paths. The reason is that for this: it cuts only the rest material from the referred tool.

I believe that you will find the Reference Tool a useful addition to your CAM toolbox!


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ZW3D is all-in-one, affordable CAD/CAM which enables concept to finished product design in an integrated, collaborative environment. The proprietary Overdrive™ kernel delivers 3D part and assembly modeling, 2D production drawings, reverse engineering, motion simulation, mold design and integrated CNC machining, simplifying the design process from concept to completion. Experience ZW3D 2012, where the only limit is your imagination. Please go to to download a free 30-day trial today.