IMTS is all about the many aspects of manufacturing from a technology standpoint, so it’s only natural that a lot of the major CAM vendors were represented on the exhibition floor.
During the course of IMTS 2016 we visited and talked with several CAM vendors on what they specifically were showing at the event, as well as their take on the CAM industry in general.
Almost without exception, every CAM vendor we spoke with talked of faster rates for increased efficiency/productivity, greater levels of automation with less operator intervention required, better integration with CAD, ability to handle a broader range of machines, tools, and materials, new roughing and finishing strategies, and so on. Some touted cloud-based capabilities and the ability to exploit the benefits of model-based design. Admittedly, though, with fancy new wrappers, some of the CAM tools were basically repackaged with aging technology more than a decade old underlying a new user interface. However, there were some notable exceptions, and these really stood out from the pack as CAM innovations.
What follows are the results of some of the conversations we had while looking for the latest and greatest in CAM software and what was truly new.
At IMTS 2016 Autodesk ushered in its new 2017 CAM products for many advanced manufacturing applications ranging from CNC mill- and lathe-programming to complex mold and die manufacturing that combine the legacy in CAM software from Delcam with Autodesk’s 3D design and manufacturing software.
Autodesk’s 2017 CAM solutions include enhanced versions of FeatureCAM for automating CNC programming; PartMaker for precision part manufacturing with Swiss-type lathes; PowerMill for designing the most complex molds, dies and other components; PowerShape for designing complex 3D parts; and PowerInspect hardware-independent inspection software.
“Manufacturers need to iterate and innovate faster than ever before to stay competitive as the marketplace is redefined by a new future of making things,” said Mark Forth, manager of manufacturing industry strategy at Autodesk. “Autodesk’s new 2017 CAM products are designed to help our customers learn, improve and master advanced manufacturing techniques that ultimately lead to better designed and functional products being brought to market more quickly and efficiently.”
Autodesk FeatureCAM is for milling machines, turning and turn/mill centers, and wire electrical discharge machines (EDMs). The automation tools within FeatureCAM help manufacturers reduce programming time, allowing parts to be made faster. They also increase programming consistency for maintaining part quality. The 2017 version of the product includes the following improvements:
- New programming capabilities for dual-path Swiss-type lathes, further improving its range of CNC machine support
- Ability to import and view product and manufacturing information directly from a model in order to help visualize design specifications
- Access to functionality that allows pre-drilling when using Vortex toolpaths, ruling out the need for helical ramp moves
PartMaker 2017, enables part manufacturing with Swiss-type lathes, is now available within the FeatureCAM 2017
Autodesk PowerMill 2017 takes the ability to easily and effectively manufacture the most complex molds, dies and other components to new heights. This latest version includes the following new features:
- More efficient 3D offset finishing toolpaths, greater simulation controls and constraint-based logic to optimize non-cutting link moves for safer, more efficient machining
- For the first time, PowerMill also provides strategies to create turning routines for use on 5-axis mill-turn machines