SmartCAM v2020 Core Improvements

Numerous enhancements and additions have been made in the SmartCAM v2020 release, many of them within the User Interface and that further improve every day usability of SmartCAM. Our changes provide increased speed and efficiency of programming for SmartCAM users. The changes are summarized for you here.

Selection Filter Improvements

Selecting elements in the Graphics View is one of the key SmartCAM tasks. SmartCAM users know that they are able to restrict the selection of elements as necessary - including or excluding entity types to be selected. Techniques include enabling all elements and then removing element types that are not to be considered when selecting and, conversely, enabling none and then adding specific element types that are to be enabled when selecting.

The scope of controlling element selections in the Graphics View has been extended by several new features added to the Edit Filter dialog box.

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Selection Filter Improvements

SmartCAM users: how often when using SmartCAM have you wished that you could include or exclude Hole Feature or Region element types when configuring the selection filter? Well now you can.

Tool Filter

Previous versions of SmartCAM included a selection filter setting that enabled the selection of elements restricted to elements associated with a specific STEP. Multiple STEPS can use the same Tool number in SmartCAM, and so from v2020 the filter includes a new Tool toggle button and corresponding input field to allow a single tool number, a list or a range of tool numbers to be specified. Selection is restricted to only elements assigned to STEPS that use the specified Tool or Range of Tools.

Feed Rate Attribute Filter

Control entity selection considering move types and feed rate types to the nth degree: SmartCAM v2020 includes two new selection options, a new Feed Entity Type (in SmartCAM milling applications only) and Override options allow you to filter your selection by feed rate attributes. For example, where the entity type is a Ramp element, elements that have been programmed in units per revolution, units per minute, units per tooth or elements for which the feed rate has been adjusted by a Factor value.

Arc Panel Diameter Input

Here is a small and simple but really practical change in the User Interface. When creating Arcs, users have been able to enter a diameter by using an expression of radius * 2. Now, either the diameter or the radius can be entered, where one mutually updates the other in the UI panel.

Arc Panel Diameter Input
Arc Panel Diameter Input

Order Path - Optimize

The Order Path - Optimize capability previously available in our Milling and Fabrication products has now been rolled out to the SmartCAM Turning and Wire EDM applications.

The Optimize task can be used to re-sequence CAD Geometry and Toolpath using a Closest or Zigzag with control over X or Y weighting optimization methods. This capability is particularly useful when manually creating toolpath, since it allows profiles to be quickly ordered, and wasted movement between profiles eliminated.

Optimize Hole Features

Hole Features in the SmartCAM database are sequentially-linked groups of elements. A hole feature can comprise of, for example, a counterbored section plus a hole section: holes in all of their forms are stored in that way.

It was, we accept, easy to cause Hole Features to become fragmented when using the Optimize task. SmartCAM v2020 resolves that issue - hole features can now be optimized without breaking the composite hole sequence. This capability allows sets of compound hole features to be quickly ordered prior to being used as input to the Hole Feature Process.

That's one more tick in the every day usability box for SmartCAM and its users.

Property Change Toolpath Add Step

Here is another small but every day-use change in functionality. A major SmartCAM capability - actually one of the most significant in SmartCAM concepts and usage - is the ability to Property-change elements.

Up until Version SmartCAM 2020, if elements (be they CAD Geometry or existing Toolpath, for those that don't yet know SmartCAM)needed to be Property-changed to a new manufacturing process STEP, then the STEP needed to already exist in the Job Planner.

Now, a new STEP can be defined from right there within the Toolpath Property Change task panel. That's a small and detailed but logical change that we just know will please existing users of SmartCAM.

Preview PM5 Files in Windows Explorer

They (whoever they may be) say that a picture is worth a thousand words. When using Windows Explorer and with the Preview pane enabled, you can now click on a PM5 model file to get a preview of the part contained in the model file. The preview shown is the same image as shown in the Preview area of SmartCAM's File Open window. This feature will help you more readily identify the PM5 model file for which you are searching.

Icon Views in Windows Explorer

When setting the Explorer Layout style to use icons (extra large icons, large icons, medium icons, small icons) the PM5 model preview image will now be displayed for PM5 model files, rather than the default generic icon image.

List View Container Display Names

The List View now displays more meaningful and descriptive names for each type of system container created. This includes toolpath processes, geometry text, and dimensions. This change makes it easy to interpret the List View content at a glance, without having to view the tool tip information for each container element as was the case in previous versions.

Element Pop-up Menus Reorganized

Right-Mouse Button (rmb) pop-up menus are a productive user interface method in most computer applications, CAM or otherwise. The RMB mechanism in both the SmartCAM Graphics and List Views have been restructured and added to. That is another of our changes that results in improved speed and efficiency for SmartCAM users.

Copy and Paste JOS Data Tag from Planner

JOS Data is not something that will mean anything to a non-SmartCAM user. We don't intend to try to describe it here, but suffice to say that it is an important and integral component used within the SmartCAM Code Generator and Customization Toolkits. There are, to state just two examples, a JOS Data Tag that stores the current job Material name and one that stores the cut width for the current milling roughing or facing process. Many other JOS Data Tags store meaningful information for every requirement.

A regular support question is where to find the information about JOS Data Tags. Fields in Job Operation Planner - used to manage Tool and Process settings for the current job - now display the JOS Data Tag name for the field when hovered-over. The pop-up menu opened by Right-Clicking on the input field now contains a new menu item, "Copy JOS Tag" making it very simple to incorporate that particular JOS Data Tag into a Code Generator or your Customization macro.

Filter Out Masked Tools/Steps in JOS Report

SmartCAM Tool / STEP configurable reports are used to generate text or HTML setup and program information, normally for operator information purposes. New options are available to filter out 'Masked' Steps or Tools when generating a JOS Report. 'Masked' elements effectively become inactive in SmartCAM. Mask all but one Tool, for example, and only code for that tool will be output when generating CNC code.

JOS Report Filename Option

A new option can be used to output the Tool / STEP Process report using the same name as the current SmartCAM Program. Previously, a user had to enter the output filename when generating the report.

When enabled, the Tool and Step reports will ignore any Masked Steps or Tools.

List View Markers in Options

There are special markers, shown in the List View, that describe certain features. For example, the hyphen shows the selected element, the * shows the insert position, ^ shows hidden elements.

Using Utility - Options - Presentation Options, you can edit the character (or characters) used for these markers. The following List View markers are available to be changed:

  • Selected Status Marker: -
  • Insert Position Marker: >
  • Masked Element Marker: o
  • Hidden Element Marker: ^
  • Masked and Hidden Element Marker: ô
  • Layer Marker: _
  • Step Marker: none
  • Reserved Plane Marker: R
  • Wrapped Plane Marker: ~
  • Unwrapped Plane Marker: D
  • Subspindle Plane Marker: S

JOS Notes Improvements

Job, Material, Step, and Tool Notes are now better handled by the implementation of a new re-sizeable notes dialog box. This change makes it easier to enter and view notes in SmartCAM than in previous releases.

Element Data Improvement

'Element Data' - used to display information about a given element - has been made more user-friendly, allowing the display window to be resized with the mouse.

Utility - Diagnostics

The Diagnostics window - used predominantly for support purposes - has been made re-sizable. The last used position and size are remembered and reused the next time the windows is opened. Text in the diagnostics window can copy copied and pasted into other supporting documents.

ACIS Update

The ACIS modeling kernel has been updated from v2019 to ACIS v2020. With this update, the following native CAD formats are now supported (using the optional native CAD Connections).

  • Inventor Connection: reads up to version 2019
  • Pro/E Creo Connection: reads up to version Creo 6.0>
  • Solid Edge Connection: reads up to version ST11
  • SolidWorks Connection: reads up to version 2019