Jeff's MCAD Blogging
Jeffrey Rowe has over 35 years of experience in all aspects of electro-mechanical design, engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 500 articles for CAD and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the MCAD community. As editor … More »
SolidCAM iMachining: A Wizard At Higher Efficiency and Reduced Tool Wear
April 24th, 2013 by Jeff Rowe
Today I saw a demonstration of SolidCAM’s newest version of its iMachining technology. The co-hosts of the presentation were Shaun Mymudes, COO, North America and Ken Merritt, senior application engineer.
After a little SolidCAM iMachining theory, the science of cutting angle, and how it’s different from the competition, a live demonstration via webcam began with new iMachining software controlling a Hurco VMX42 HSi machining center. A tool running at 10,000 RPM and traveling at between 85-200 inches per minute cut and finished a pocketed part of 1018 steel in pretty short order.
Owing to iMachining’s unique tool motion control algorithms and variable cutting angle, the presenters said (and showed) significant improvement in cycle time efficiency/time savings (in this case, more than 70%), as well as reduced tool wear.
After the live demo, it was time to see some of the features and capabilities of the software.
Even more than CAD, CAM software is all about managing parameters, such as the machine itself, material, tools, speeds, feeds, cutting conditions, etc. Admittedly, some CAM software is better than others for managing all of these parameters while attempting to produce quality parts. SolidCAM’s iMachining is unique both in its toolpath generation and its method of programming with its Technology Wizard that automates many aspects of dealing with the many parameters.
SolidCAM 3-Axis iMachining Running Inside SolidWorks
The iMachining Technology Wizard calculates and produces optimized feed rates, spindle speeds, as well as depth and width of cuts. Using the Controlled Step-Over technology, the iMachining toolpath ensures that the cutting conditions set by the Wizard are strictly adhered to. The iMachining Level Slider lets you choose from eight selectable levels to automatically adjust for real-world fixture, tool holding, and machine conditions. SolidCAM’s Mymudes said that the Technology Wizard would make the machinists’ bible, The Machinery’s Handbook, obsolete. I don’t if I’d go quite that far, but it will certainly smooth iMachining’s learning curve.
Although the iMachining technology is not brand new and the newest version of the software is not generally available yet, it soon will be. iMachining is available in Standard and Pro packages with prices that will start at less than $5000 for 2.5D (axis), and less than $10,000 for 3D (axis). The software can run inside SolidWorks and Autodesk Inventor, as well as standalone.
Today’s live demo and software overview provided some of the most compelling reasons to upgrade to or consider switching CAM packages that I have seen in some time.