Announcing
SmartCAM v2015 HSM Milling Toolpath Improvements

SmartCAM v2015 delivers several high-speed milling toolpath process improvements.

HSM concepts generally mean swapping slower and heavier cuts for a higher number of faster cuts using a lighter tool load. Whatever the spindle and feedrate capacity you have on your machinery, you can likely benefit from the higher material removal rates and reduced cycle times delivered by HSM techniques.

HSM can really make those chips fly. Feedrate reductions due to sharp corners need to be eliminated: smooth, always-tangent toolpaths are one of the key factors for successful HSM. We'll take a look at the new features added in this release that can help.

Morph Profile Side Passes

A new wireframe profile toolpath method for machining closed profiles enables an option of continuously-morphing toolpath, winding between the stock wall offset and finish profiles. The morph path is repeated for each depth pass.

The new method can be particularly beneficial for high-speed-machining applications when used in conjunction with the new profile smoothing options.

SmartCAM users can control the form of the morphing toolpath results, with an option to set a preference of generating toolpath that is biased in form to the wall stock offset, the finish profile, or both profiles.

A new method in the wireframe profile process enables the generation of continuously-morphing toolpath.
A new method in the wireframe profile process enables the generation of continuously-morphing toolpath.

Ramp Wireframe Profile Depth Passes

A new wireframe profile toolpath method for machining closed profiles enables an option of Z-depth continuously-ramping toolpath, winding between the Z-start and Z-end levels during the profile offset passes. The ramp path is repeated for each side offset pass.

The new ramping method complements the new side pass morphing method and extends the set of profile toolpath options available for users of SmartCAM.

A new method in the wireframe profile process enables the generation of toolpath that continuously ramps in the depth axis.
A new method in the wireframe profile process enables the generation of toolpath that continuously ramps in the depth axis.

Profile Process Toolpath Smoothing

Sharp corners can be eliminated from all profile toolpaths generated using the wireframe or solid-model based toolpath processes.

When profiling with multiple offset passes, smoothing can optionally be applied to roughing and finishing passes, or to roughing passes only.

The multi-pass Profile Process toolpath for this manifold has been created without any smoothing:

A multi-pass Profile Process without any toolpath Smoothing.
A multi-pass Profile Process without any toolpath Smoothing.

The smoothing effect can be controlled using a smooth Path Ratio setting. A smaller ratio results in less aggressive smoothing and smaller corner radii, whilst a larger value produces more aggressive smoothing and larger corner radii.

Here is the same Profile Process with medium-weight smoothing applied to the roughing passes:

A multi-pass Profile Process with Smoothed roughing passes.
A multi-pass Profile Process with Smoothed roughing passes.

Roughing Process Toolpath and Connection Smoothing

Sharp corners can now be eliminated from toolpath generated by wireframe and solid-model based roughing process that support the Part Offset path. The Pocket, Face, Region Rough, Solid Pocket and Solid Planar processes can now be used to generate improved HSM toolpaths.

Toolpath Smoothing can be applied to Roughing-only or Roughing and finishing toolpaths and benefits from the same controls that are available in the Profile Process smoothing options, the smoothing effect can be controlled using a smooth Path Ratio setting. A smaller ratio results in less aggressive smoothing and smaller corner radii, whilst a larger value produces more aggressive smoothing and larger corner radii.

There is also a further new option to smooth the connection moves that link successive passes. Connecting the passes with a linear move was previously the only method available.

Part Offset Roughing toolpath and connection smoothing options.
Part Offset Roughing toolpath and connection smoothing options.

This Solid Pocket Part Offset roughing toolpath was generated without any smoothing options:

A Solid Model Part Offset Pocketing Process without any toolpath or connection Smoothing.
A Solid Model Part Offset Pocketing Process without any toolpath or connection Smoothing.

And this is the same process with connection smoothing, and with toolpath smoothing applied to the roughing and final passes:

A Solid Model Part Offset Pocketing Process that benefits from toolpath and connection Smoothing.
A Solid Model Part Offset Pocketing Process that benefits from toolpath and connection Smoothing.

Here is a further example, this time for external roughing toolpath generated using the Region Machining Process. Without smoothing options being applied:

A Region Machining Process without any toolpath and connection smoothing options.
A Region Machining Process without any toolpath and connection smoothing options.

And the same process with smoothing applied to the roughing and final passes:

The same Region Machining Process with toolpath smoothing applied.
The same Region Machining Process with toolpath smoothing applied.

Actual Rest Region calculation complements Theoretical Regions

The rest mill output from wireframe roughing processes has been enhanced to provide a new Actual calculation method. The method complements the previous Theoretical calculation, which only considered material left behind by the roughing tool along the input part profiles.

The new Actual method checks the entire roughing area and creates rest mill regions for all leftover material, including islands remaining as a result of using too large a width of cut.

Additionally, the Actual method also accounts for excess material left behind as a result of using the new toolpath smoothing.

To illustrate the feature, we have contrived to cause some residual island material by using a larger-than-nominal cutter overlap when roughing the pockets on this component:

We applied the Actual Rest Mill calculation to the pocketing toolpath for this component.
We applied the Actual Rest Mill calculation to the pocketing toolpath for this component.

Our next image shows the roughing toolpath ShowCut verification, confirming the small residual island regions. The Rest Regions that have been calculated using the new Actual method are shown on the right.

The Roughing toolpath ShowCut Simulation result showing the residual islands. The calculated Actual Rest Regions are shown on the right.
The Roughing toolpath ShowCut Simulation result showing the residual islands. The calculated Actual Rest Regions are shown on the right.

On the left-hand side of the image below you can see the toolpath output from the Region Machining Process applied to the Actual Rest Mil Regions. ShowCut verification of the roughing and semi-finishing toolpaths is shown on the right.

The Rest Mill Region Machining toolpath plus the ShowCut result of the Roughing and Rest Machining toolpaths.
The Rest Mill Region Machining toolpath plus the ShowCut result of the Roughing and Rest Machining toolpaths.