When we program regular CAM operations, we have to specifyall aspects of operations every time. These operations include defining the cutters and setting cutting parameters, such as tolerance, XY step, and Z step; linking parameters, and setting the speed, feed, and so on. When we program parts of similar shapes, such as in those shown in figure 1, they could be manufactured with the same methods, same operations, same cutting tools, and even the same parameter settings.
Similar parts means repetitive work; the more similar the parts to be programmed, the more repetitive the work we have to handle. Absolutely nobody likes doing large amounts of repetitive programming work!
Figure 1: Several similar parts
Is there a way that we could make programming easier and faster by recording repetitive work? The good news is that there is, and ZW3D offers it to us through an intelligent CAM template that completely solves the problem.
Showing How Templates are Faster
Let me show you the advantage of using ZW3D’s CAM templates through the example of programming the machining electrodes, such as the ones shown in figure 2. The process starts by creating a blank CAM plan,and then goes through all the way to generating the NC code.
Figure 2: Simple electrode to be programmed
There are two ways to do this:(a) using the standard method, or (b) using a CAM template. Let me compare the two to show you the differences between them, as summarized by figure 3.
In the standard method, each step’s parameters are set manually, from stock creation, machining operation selection, cutting tool specification, cutting parameters setting, machined geometry definition, machine and output file setting, to tool-path and NC code generation. Even a part as simpleas an electrode takes nearly ten minutes of programming to complete.
Using a template to record all of the repetitive work, such as the operations selection, cutting tool specification, and so on, takes under two minutes to complete.
Figure 3: Comparison for the standard and CAM template methods
So, for this simple electrode, the template method saves eight minutes and is five times faster over the standard method. You can imagine how much more time is saved when a large number of parts need to be programmed. On the whole, CAM templates slash programming time and so greatly improve productivity.
Attaining theFull Capabilities of Templates
ZW3D’s CAM templates greatly improve work efficiency, but do you go about attaining its full capability? Well, it turns out that the key is to do some advance work. This includes(a) programming parts classification, (b) tool library customization, (c) templates definitions, (d) configuration settings, and (e) programming origin unification. I’ll go through some of these in the following sections. In doing so, I’ll again use electrode programming as my example for showing how to implement templates.
1. Programming Parts Classification
The mold making industry uses different kinds of electrodes, such as the ones illustrated by figure 4.
Figure 4: Different kinds of electrode
But many of them look similar and are simple to construct. We can classify them into several types, as shown in figure 5. Some of the main types include the following ones:
Flat surface heads with standard electrode blanks
Curved surface heads with standard electrode blanks
Flat surface heads with special electrode blanks
Ribs with flat surface heads
Ribs with curved surface heads
And so on.
Figure 5: Electrodes classification
Each type is further regregated by height into sub-types. In this way, we can program each specific type of electrode using same operations, the same cutters, and the same cutting parameters. This is one precondition for using templates.
Tool Library Customization
After classifying electrodes into types and sub-types, we confirm the cutters, and then to avoid repetitive work we build a tool library that records all the tool data, like selecting and defining the cutter, the feed, and speed. (See figure 6.)
Figure 6: Tool library
Here are the steps to creating such a tool library:
First, create and save a new, blank, Z33D CAM plan file. You use it to save all of the data associated with cutting tools.
Save it using the file name of “electrode tools library.”
Open the Tool Manager by selecting the Tool Manager item from the Tools menu, as shown in figure 7.
Figure 7: Choosing the Tool Manager item
4. Load the previously-created “Electrode Tools Library” file into the Tool Manager via the Open file button, as shown in figure 8.
Figure 8: Tool Manager dialogbox
5. Then, define all of the cutters (see figure 9)corresponding to the table shown earlier in figure 6, and then save them.
Figure 9: Tool definitions
3) Template Definition
Thanks to the classification system we created, each type of electrode can now be manufactured using the same set of operations, cutters, and cutting parameters. Continuing with this example, we can now build specific CAM templates to record all of the repetitive work for each type of electrode. The detailed process is as follows:
1. To begin, create another new, blank, CAM plan file in which to save the templates.
2. Create sub-CAM-plan file in which to record the operations and settings corresponding each specific type of electrode. For example, create a template for those electrodes belonging to the A-Z40-50 type. (See figure 10.)
Figure 10: Creating templates
3. Next, create operations for roughing and finishing the electrode’s head and blank, loading the cutters from the electrode tools library, and setting parameters, as well as the machining and output. See figure 11.
Figure 11: Setting parameter
4.Using the same method, customize all other templates for the other types of electrode types. (See figure 12.)
Figure 12: Creating additional templates
4) Setting Configurations
The creation of the tools library and electrodes templates is finished. To let the software apply both when it starts up, we need set the configuration to pre-load the files, as shown by figure 13.
Figure 13: Configuration setting
5) Applying the Templates
With all of the definitionsin place, we can finally use the templates for programming electrodes, as follows:
a. Open or import an electrode, and then place it at the correct position in the CAD module.
b. Right click a blank spot in the graphic window, and then select the CAMPlanfrom the context menu. Notice that it displays a menu listing the names of all templates, as in figure 14.
c. Decide the type to which the electrode belongs, and then select the appropriate template. Notice that it jumps to the CAM plan.
d. In the CAM plan, all operations are created automatically, including cutters, parameter settings, and machine and output definitions, as shown infigure 15.
Figure 15: CAM plan
e. All that we have to do now is to create a stock, and then assign the part and the stock to all operations.
f. Click the Calculate All button. (See figure 16.) Wait a brief time for the toolpaths to be calculated.
Figure 16: Tool-paths calculation
Notice in figure 17 that ZW3D intelligently generates all the toolpaths.
g. Finally, translate the toolpaths into NC code for the actual machining, after checking all of them.
On the whole, ZW3D CAM template functionality simplifies the programming process, slashes the programming time, optimizes the machining quality, reduces mistakes, and standardizes the manufacturing technique.
ZW3D is all-in-one, affordable CAD/CAM solution that enables concept-to-finished-product designs 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. It simplifies the design process from concept to completion.
To experience ZW3D 2012, where the only limit is your imagination, please go to www.zwsoft.comand download a free 30-day trial today.
ZW3D CAM template functions simplify the programming process, slash the programming time, optimize the machining quality, reduce mistakes, and standardize manufacturing techniques.
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