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SmartCAM v2018 Feed Rate Control Improvements

Feed rate control has been expanded with several technical changes that provide better and more complete control of toolpath feed rates.

Even we have to admit that we found this topic a little dry. Feed rate control is not high on the list of things we could inform you about that will compel you to invest in SmartCAM, not alongside the many good things that our CAM software can do for you.

But bear with us: the changes that we have made for Version 2018 are of real benefit in CAM applications. We thought that we would head up this section with a summary of what the changes mean for the CAM engineer who uses SmartCAM.

Prior to SmartCAM Version 2018
SmartCAM users were able to set Primary and Plunge feed rates for a Process Step.

If there was a need to adjust feed rate in mid-process it was achieved by including a 'User Command' to introduce the feed rate changes at the required position in the process model. The mechanism has worked well in SmartCAM for many years. So that was all good then.

From SmartCAM Version 2018
We have considerably opened up feed rate control capability and flexibility in our CAM systems.

SmartCAM engineers now have direct access to the feed rate Property of every individual toolpath element. The feed rate type and settings of individual elements and groups of elements can now be modified using the same Property Change methods that are used for modifying other element property attributes; the Layer or Process Step that 'owns' the elements, for example.

We have added a further feed type, providing three feed rate types in total: Primary, Slow and Fast feed. We have also added a feed rate adjustment factor that can be used to control feed rates for when conventional milling as against climb milling in relevant toolpath processes.

There is also a 'Core improvement' that is related to the matter of modifying element properties generally; we have sneaked in a useful little piece of functionality that enhances and makes easier the job of element property changing, an ability to copy properties from an existing element to other elements.

There, that wasn't so dry after all. Our feed rate control changes are detailed below.

Additional Rough and Face Milling Operation Feeds

The Rough and Face Milling operations have been enhanced to include new Fast Feed settings and a Conventional Cut Feed Factor.

Roughing and Face Milling operations now include Fast Feed settings and a Conventional Milling Cut Feed Factor
Roughing and Face Milling operations now include Fast Feed settings and a Conventional Milling Cut Feed Factor

SmartCAM engineers can now property-change the feed rate type of individual elements or groups of elements to use the available feed rate entity types. In addition the Fast Feed and Conventional Feed Factor are automatically used by the new Adaptive Roughing processes that have become available in the Advanced and FreeForm Milling products and milling in Advanced Turning. The Fast Feed specifies a high feed rate for return moves, when unidirectional cutting. The Conventional Cut Feed Factor specifies a factor used to reduce the default Primary Feed feed rate for conventional cuts, when bidirectional cutting.

Additionally, the previous Plunge Feed has been renamed to Slow Feed, continues to be used for plunge moves, but now is also used for process ramp and helix entry moves.

Property Change Feed Entity

The Toolpath Property Change function has been enhanced to include a new Feed Entity Type which allows specific toolpath entity types to be assigned to a group of toolpath elements, available in SmartCAM Milling and Turning applications. The Feed Entity types include Primary Path, Ramp, and Fast Return, and is used to establish the default feed rate.

Primary Path uses Primary Feed, Ramp uses Slow Feed, and Fast Return uses Fast Feed. This capability allows you to manually build toolpath that uses the same feed rate mechanisms as toolpath generated by process panels.

Property Change Feed Override

A new Feed Override option can be used to apply a feed rate change directly to a group of elements. This assigned feed rate attribute overrides all other feed rate mechanisms; such as the default value from the Operation or using a Feed rate user command. This now equips you with even more precise control over the feed rates and feed rate changes that you need to use.

Property Change Feed Override Panel
Property Change Feed Override Panel

The feed rate can be assigned as unit rates, per-rev, per-minute, and per-tooth; or as a multiplication factor. When using the unit feed rates, the units you enter are stored; when generating code the units are converted to the feed type selected for the given step.

Element Data Feed Information

The Element Data function has been enhanced to display additional information related to element feed rates. When applicable, the element type will now include the Feed Entity Type, for example Ramp or Fast Return.

Feed Override information now found in Element Data
Feed Override information now found in Element Data

When an element Feed Override is used, Element Data displays the related Feed information on a new line. It shows the Override type (per-tooth, per-minute, per-rev, factored) and the entered rate. It also displays the updated feed rate and the feed type selected for output.

Machine Events Feed Change

The user command-based Feed Change functionality has been replaced with the same feed attribute-based capabilities that have been added to Toolpath Property Change.

Feed Change options in Machine Define
Feed Change options in Machine Define

You can now select a group of elements and apply the desired feed change. Existing Feed Change hot-keys and toolbar buttons will open the new Feed Change panel.