GibbsCAM 2005 Provides Several Machining Enhancements

GibbsCAM 2005 Provides Several Machining Enhancements

Gibbs and Associates, developer of GibbsCAM, computer- aided manufacturing (CAM) software for programming computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine tools, announced that they will preview GibbsCAM 2005 during the WESTEC 2005 Conference. The convention is being held from April 4th - 7th at the Los Angles Convention Center in Los Angeles, California. GibbsCAM 2005, expected to be released to customers shortly after WESTEC, contains a number of significant enhancements which extend GibbsCAM's overall capabilities or expand existing functionality across all GibbsCAM modules.

"The GibbsCAM 2005 release continues to add more functionality and value to the overall product line," states Bill Gibbs, president and founder of Gibbs and Associates. "The list of enhancements included in this release was directly developed from feedback from GibbsCAM Resellers and end users. Existing users will be very pleased with the content and people looking at GibbsCAM for the first time will be impressed with its breadth and depth of capability."

The following items are some of the new functionalities included in the GibbsCAM 2005 release (grouped by major product themes):
  • Machining Solid Models
    • Import Alignment tools
    • Feature Drilling for smart depths and clearances
    • Profiler support for drilling
    • Improvements to Hole Manager and Automated Feature Recognition (AFR)
    • Gen III Pocketing for smart volume removal
  • Production Milling & Turning
    • User-controlled entries and exits in contouring and pocketing
    • Mill tool holder library for simulation display
    • Form tool support in Turning for contouring function
    • Support for Mazak flash tooling
    • 5-axis simultaneous milling for mill, mill-turn, and MTM
    • Import data in STL format
    • Management tools for the operations of large programs
    • Automatic mirroring for left-hand parts
    • Helix Bore
    • Associativity tools
  • 3D Milling
    • Gouge-protected Surface Flow for finishing surfaces
  • High Speed Machining
    • Methods to further optimize toolpath
    • Methods to further optimize feedrate
In addition, GibbsCAM's Network License Option has been enhanced in this release to allow multiple GibbsCAM sessions to be launched on a single PC. The GibbsCAM 2005 release also ensures full compatibility with popular mainstream, PC-based CAD systems, Autodesk Inventor R10, Solid Edge V16, and SolidWorks 2005.

Along with GibbsCAM 2005, Gibbs will also demonstrate the new GibbsCAM TMS module, an option that specifically targets programming multiple parts fixtured on a tombstone, which has become a common machining practice in high throughput, lights-out facilities. After the user orients and positions the various parts on the tombstone, this module automatically generates the offsets and rotations necessary for optimal machining. GibbsCAM Machine Simulation module can then be used to simulate the machine tool motions to verify that there are no collisions between tooling, fixtures, parts or the machine.

Gibbs and Associates continues to be a leader provider of cutting edge CAD/CAM technology, while maintaining its signature ease-of-use and productivity. Powerfully Simple, Simply Powerful is the guiding philosophy at Gibbs. Gibbs believes in empowering the NC programmer, machinist, and manufacturing engineer, not eliminating them. Gibbs' goal is to introduce manufacturers to new technologies and new ways of working that makes their machining easier and their businesses more profitable. To achieve this goal, Gibbs creates tools that are naturally intuitive, graphically interactive, extremely visual, associative, and just plain enjoyable to use. Gibbs provides a total quality solution with the service and support successful customers require.

The current GibbsCAM product line supports 2- through 5-axis milling, turning, mill/turning, multi-task simultaneous machining and wire-EDM. GibbsCAM also provides fully integrated manufacturing modeling capabilities that include 2D, 2.5D, 3D wireframe, surface, and solid modeling. GibbsCAM has received Microsoft's "Designed for Windows XP/2000" certification. GibbsCAM's data exchange capabilities are able to access the broadest range of native and industry standard CAD data formats. GibbsCAM is certified under the Autodesk Inventor Certified Application Program, is a Solid Edge Certified Select Product, and is a SolidWorks Certified CAM Product. GibbsCAM is either offered or endorsed by a number of leading worldwide control and machine tool manufacturers, including GE Fanuc, Siemens, Fadal, and Mitsubishi. Gibbs and Associates distributes its products worldwide through a network of international Resellers.

With a few exceptions, it wasn't all that long ago that the realms of CAD and CAM were literally worlds apart. Because of the natures of their respective outputs, digital for CAD and physical for CAM, the functions and capabilities of the two broad application types were usually very different with regard to look, feel, and behavior. There has also been the perpetual interoperability problem between CAD and CAM products. Some software vendors, realizing the severity of the interoperability problem have combined what were once distinct CAD and CAM applications, mostly by producing CAM products with CAD capabilities. GibbsCAM is one of these hybrid CAM/CAD and is the flagship product of Gibbs & Associates, a company that has been around since the early 1980s. Other similar products in this hybrid genre include Delcam's PowerShape Pro, Camtek's Pentacut, and VX CAD/CAM (what we consider the standout of the hybrid bunch).

GibbsCAM has modeling capabilities that include entry-level 2D, 2.5D, 3D wireframe, surface modeling, and solid-modeling creation specifically for manufacturing processes. These process models, instead of sometimes nightmarish G-code, can be bi-directionally exchanged between the shop floor and manufacturing engineering. GibbsCAM supports 2- through 5-axis milling, turning, mill/turning, multi-task simultaneous machining, and wire-EDM.

So, with a hybrid CAM/CAD product like GibbsCAM, can you dispense with all of your MCAD tools for medium to complex design tasks? Probably not, because like most hybrid products, there are tradeoffs and compromises that usually must be made. For the most part, CAD capabilities in CAM products are pretty basic and don't often provide a lot of guidance or feedback. For example, some of the CAM/CAD hybrids consider fillets, chamfers, and applying draft angles to be "advanced" modeling capabilities. That said, though, organizations with relatively modest CAD requirements might be able to get by without a dedicated MCAD product in their CAM environment. On the other hand, organizations that have medium to advanced CAD requirements are probably better served with separate CAD and CAM applications, and dealing with the potential interoperability issue. However, CAD and CAM technologies continue to evolve, and there will come a day when the two are very tightly integrated, virtually as one, at least in terms of a process continuum.

Jeffrey Rowe is the editor and publisher of MCADCafé and MCAD Weekly Review. He can be reached here or 408.850.9230.

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