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Delcam to show FeatureCAM with Vortex area clearance at SEMA

Programming of probing routines has been made easier in FeatureCAM 2014

Delcam will demonstrate the 2014 version of its FeatureCAM feature-based CAM software at the SEMA exhibition in Las Vegas from 5th to 8th November.  The 2014 release is the first to include Delcam’s unique Vortex high-efficiency area clearance strategy.  It also offers new options for turning, four-axis rotary machining and turn-mill operations, more strategies for two-axis finishing and easier programming of probing sequences.

For full details, including video demonstrations of the new functionality, and to download an evaluation version, please go to

Vortex, for which Delcam has a patent pending, has been developed specifically to give significant reductions in the time taken for rough machining.  It does this by using the ability of modern cutting tools, in particular solid carbide tooling, to give deeper cuts using the full flute length as the cutting surface.

Unlike other high-speed roughing techniques that aim to maintain a constant theoretical metal-removal rate, the Vortex strategy produces toolpaths with a controlled engagement angle for the complete operation.  This maintains the optimum cutting conditions for the entire toolpath that would normally be possible only for the straight-line moves.  As a result, the cutting time will be shorter, while cutting will be undertaken at a more consistent volume-removal rate and feed rate, so protecting the machine.

Because Vortex toolpaths have a controlled engagement angle, tools should never be overloaded and so will achieve the maximum tool life.  Shock loading caused by changes in the contact angle is minimised, preventing chipping of the flutes.  In addition, the stability of the cutting conditions gives more consistent edge temperatures, so prolonging the life of the tool coating and removing heat damage to the surface of the part.  Finally, the ability to use stepdowns of three, or even more, times the tool diameter spreads the tool wear evenly over the cutting surface of the tool, again contributing to longer tool life.

The first improvement to turning in FeatureCAM gives the ability to add fillets to any sharp corners, for example, for automatic deburring, without having to edit the geometry.  The user simply has to specify the radius to be applied and all the sharp corners will be filleted automatically.

Turning simulation has been made more realistic with the ability to program and simulate the movements of the steady-rest that can be used to position large parts during turning and the tailstock that can be used to hold long parts on centre during machining.  Collision detection against both these types of accessory is undertaken automatically during both cutting and transfer operations.

The ability to incorporate probing routines into machining programs was added in FeatureCAM 2013.  These routines make it easier to undertake unsupervised production operations by allowing automated checks to be carried out before, during and after machining.  Programming of these operations has been made easier and quicker with the new ability to incorporate decision-making with built-in options in the software, instead of having to hand-write toolpath edit commands.

For further information on FeatureCAM, please visit

31 October 2013

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