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Delcam to make the most of multi-tasking machines at Mazak

The combination of Delcam software and Mazak machine tools has enabled Coventry Engineering to produce more complex parts

Delcam is to hold a workshop at Mazak’s European Technology Centre in Worcester on Wednesday 7th March showing how companies can use its FeatureCAM feature-based CAM software to maximise the productivity of their multi-tasking machine tools.  Further information and a booking form is available at

The workshop will include programming demonstrations to illustrate the speed and flexibility of the feature-based approach, plus live machining demonstrations on an Integrex multi-tasking machine and a Hyper Quadrex two-turret, two-spindle turning centre, both capable of "Done-In-One” machining and loaded with tooling from Iscar.  The event will also see the launch of the latest FeatureCAM release, 2012 R2, in the UK.

The key benefit of multi-tasking machines is that they can produce, on a single piece of equipment, parts that would previously have required a number of separate turning and milling machines.  This offers the potential for huge increases in productivity as many parts can be machined in a single set-up ("Done-In-One”), reduced costs because fewer fixtures need to be made, and greater accuracy because parts do not need to be transferred between different machines.

Furthermore, multi-tasking machines make it practical for companies to take on more complex parts that would be too difficult or too expensive to produce on conventional milling and turning equipment.

However, many companies buying these machines are unable to achieve the expected benefits in productivity and quality because of limitations in their CAM systems.  Software that has been perfectly capable of programming simple milling or turning operations proves to be unable to handle the added complexity, both of the new equipment and of the parts that need to be made. 

Similarly, many users who may have relied on manual programming at the machine control find it more challenging and more time-consuming to create programs for multi-tasking equipment.  To obtain the full benefit of their investment, these companies may need to invest in a CAM system for the first time.  As well as offering easier and faster programming, Delcam software offers the ability to check the program on the computer before it is sent to the machine, so eliminating the need for prove-out trials on the machine.

Feature-based CAM systems offer programming speeds that are impossible with the more usual operations-based approach because they incorporate predefined machining rules controlling how and where material should be removed.  FeatureCAM uses this knowledge to evaluate the part geometry and material, select the most appropriate tools and operations, recommend machining strategies, calculate feeds and speeds, and then to automatically generate the NC code.  This unrivalled speed of toolpath generation means that machining of one-off parts or initial samples can be commenced within minutes of the receipt of the part model.  As a result, delivery times can be reduced dramatically.

Alongside this high level of automation, FeatureCAM offers complete flexibility.  Users can edit the predefined machining rules with their own customisations to tailor the results for their own range of equipment.  Once this editing has been done, every job on the particular machine is cut in a predictable manner regardless of who did the programming.

In addition, a wide range of editing tools is available to optimise the initial toolpaths for series production, when the cycle time on the machine becomes more important than the programming time on the computer.  This is particularly important for multi-turret and multi-spindle equipment, where the most efficient allocation of operations between turrets and spindles can have a significant impact on the overall cycle time.

26 January 2012

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