Delcam’s FeatureCAM cuts prosthetic programming times by 75%
Moving up to the five-axis machining module of Delcam’s FeatureCAM feature-based CAM system has cut programming times by up to 75% at Fillauer Companies, Inc. Founded in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 1914 by George Fillauer Sr., Fillauer has subsequently transformed into an international group of companies that manufacture, distribute and custom-fabricate a wide range of orthotic and prosthetic products.
The incentive to change came after a new product planned by the company needed to be programmed for four-axis machining. However, the shape of the family of carbon-fibre parts meant that programming time was going to be unacceptably long so Stephen Moffitt, R&D programmer at Fillauer, looked for a better way. "We have some fairly complicated three-dimensional parts for which we had to incorporate four-axis simultaneous machining,” Mr. Moffitt said. "Our FeatureCAM 3D was capable of doing the job but Matt Beisel, from FeatureCAM in Salt Lake City, talked to me about the five-axis option. The more I heard about it, the more it sounded like a solution for us.”
"Immediately, I saw that it could save me about 75% in my programming time,” Mr. Moffitt claimed. "I could have programmed the parts to be machined with fourth-axis indexing style of machining, by piecing together machine moves to accomplish a complete part. I could machine a little bit here, rotate the fixture, machine a little bit there, and so on. In contrast, with five-axis simultaneous, the tool comes down and doesn’t leave the part until it is complete.” This saves Fillauer programming time and machining time.
"One of the key features for us is the five-axis trimming command,” Mr. Moffitt added. "I can select a group of surfaces and the tool will follow the edges of those surfaces very accurately. The machining results are excellent and this feature saves a lot of programming time.”
"Using FeatureCAM’s five-axis capabilities allows us to hold the part so that it can be machined in one continuous path, saving us quite a bit of time and providing much better results. On a three-axis machine, it would take eight or nine setups for some of these parts which we can now do in one operation,” Mr. Moffitt pointed out. Another important capability of FeatureCAM is the provision of simulations on-screen so any problems can be avoided before the program is loaded into the machine.
Mr. Moffitt had used other CAM software but said that he found FeatureCAM to be more user-friendly and more affordable. "It is very easy to learn,” he commented, "and I feel you get better value with FeatureCAM.”