When you are working on a project around the house, having the right tool makes the job effortless and maybe even a little fun. The same is true for designing molds. Working with a tool like TopSolid, that is designed to be a manufacturing solution, can make all the difference in the world when it comes to getting your split done quickly and efficiently.
In this video, I walk you through what it takes to make a very basic family mold split. The parts are basic, but the process is sound. Follow these steps for any family mold you make and it will always work out well for you. I know some will argue that this is a silly sample as it is based on a couple of poker chips…but again the goal here is to teach you a process. Pay attention to the process. It is simple, repeatable, and the best thing is…it just works no matter the complexity of the project.
When it comes to creating core and cavities, it is a strong process that makes it possible to move quickly. With TopSolid, our Split document allows you to control all aspects of your core/cavity split. From shrink to over-molded parts there is no stopping the power of TopSolid. Check out the video and see for your self what a real manufacturing based cad/cam solution should look like.
The annual TopSolid End User Conference that took place the April 26-28 in Lombard, IL was an enormous success. TopSolid users from around the US showed up to learn about all of the new features that TopSolid 2017 had to offer for the Mechanical Cad and Cam market as well as the Wood market. During this 3-day conference, users were introduced to new features of the best-in-class software solution by Missler Software.
Starting Day 1 the right way
On The first day of the end user conference TopSolid users learned about the past 12 months at Missler Software. We were extremely happy to report that, thanks to our users, Missler Software has had our best year yet with more than 15% growth worldwide and a remarkable growth in the US market of over 40%! A very big thank you to all our customers both local and abroad for your continued business.
Next, the users were introduced to the best new features of TopSolid 2017 by yours truly, (Bill Genc: Technical Director). During this presentation, I introduced some of the biggest new improvements for TopSolid 7. This included some major changes to our PDM such as multi-session mode for both standalone and client/server versions of TopSolid. We also spoke about some of the new products available such as TopSolid Strip Design for the Progressive die market and the announcement of TopSolid Web Explorer that can give users access to all PDM data from any device, anywhere in the world with web access. One of the other huge improvements we spoke about during this session had to do with the new Freeze Documents command. This command allows designers of large assemblies the ability to freeze the update on synchronized documents until they are ready to let those items rebuild. This new command massively decreases the amount of time it takes to push changes on large assemblies.
After this, I continued to a new presentation about 5-axis milling. Here I focused on discussing the distinct types of 5 axis mills and what the strengths and weaknesses are for each. We then went into TopSolid and started to program a 5-axis part together so that we could talk about some of the other challenges with 5-axis such as link movements between cuts. Here I spoke about how to get in and out of a plane matrix using our link movement editor. As this discussion came to an end, we loaded everyone up onto a good old fashioned school bus and headed out to Heidenhain USA in Schaumburg IL for the next part of our meeting.
At Heidenhain, we all got to experience a great tour of the facility by the extremely generous staff of Heidenhain USA. After the tour, Heidenhain provided a very nice lunch to all the TopSolid attendees. After lunch, we headed to their show room where the TopSolid Users got to see the part we were discussing earlier run on a Hermle 5 axis mill with Heidenhain’s flagship control, the i640. During the test cut, our users got to experience firsthand how everything we showed them in TopSolid runs on the real machine. After this, the extremely knowledgeable Julian Renz of Heidenhain gave our users a remarkable presentation about the history of the company and the power of the Heidenhain control. Here I know that each of our users walked away with a wealth of knowledge. I would also like to mention that our friends at ISCAR were present on this project and supplied us with the best tooling possible to create a successful part. That evening, we all found ourselves together at Millers Ale house were users and TopSolid staff alike shared a lot of fun stories with each other. I mean after all, kids will be kids…right?
It’s time to learn some new features
On day 2 of the end user conference the real fun began. We spent the morning doing our absolute best to introduce TopSolid users to all of the new features that are available with TopSolid Design for 2017. The PowerPoint that I prepared (available for download at the bottom of this article), includes 198 slides worth of improvements. What’s more is there are fully narrated videos embedded in the PowerPoint so that anyone can benefit from the presentation.
After this presentation was completed, we then started to divide up the users into specific groups. I took our Mold and Electrode users and continued to present what’s new for those specific products. Kyle Provancher took the Cam users and began to introduce them to all of the new features with Cam for 2017. By the end of day 2, everyone was pumped up by all of the great new improvements of TopSolid 2017.
An evening out to celebrate
That evening, we all hopped on a bus again and headed to TopGolf in Naperville, Illinois. Here we had a great time challenging each other on the range all the time while enjoying great food and some much-earned delicious beverages. Everyone got to test their skills on the range hitting RF tagged golf balls out to various targets. If you have never experienced TopGolf, you should check it out. It’s a wonderful time for all…even if you’re not a golfer!
Time to finish up
The morning of Day 3 of the end user conference was spent finishing up presentations on new features. The rest of the day was spent on one-on-one meetings with various clients to learn how we can be of further help to them. All in all, the event was fantastic. I want to thank my team for working hard to put this together, and of course our customers for attending. We look forward to next year’s event!
For those of you who attended the conference (and even those of you who did not), below are the download links for all the presentations. Please note that you will need PowerPoint to view these presentations.
[Note: Corrected link problem with downloads below. Now everything is in zip format and should download without problem 5/23/17]
When you are machining basic geometry, you should have the ability to make small, but useful optimizations within your tool path to prolong cutter life and even cut a bit faster. Thankfully, TopSolid has such tools available for you. All you need to do is turn them on! In this video, you will learn how to use these optimizations. And in doing so, you will become one “chip” closer to becoming a TopSolid Expert!
During the annual TopSolid End User Conference in April, 2017 we were able to partner with Heidenhain USA and ISCAR to create a sample 5 axis machining project. A special thanks to Heidenhain for the use of their facility and Hermle 5 axis mill. As well a special thanks to ISCAR for providing the tooling. Combined with TopSolid we had a great event where we got to educate around 30 people on 5 axis milling. During the event, we ran the part you are about to watch. We also spoke in depth about the Heidenhain CNC controller as well. From there we explored all of the possibilities of 5 axis milling together and learned about the various styles of 5 axis mills. All in all a very successful event!
5 axis pre-position milling is challenging enough without having to fight with your cam software. Why? Sometimes it can be very challenging to set the proper angular solutions or WCS (Work Coordinate System) needed to cut your part. Even more, it can be hard to ensure that you are always working in an intelligent way so that your operator can always see what’s going on in your machine.
In the case of WCS creation, TopSolid is at the “top” of the food chain. This is because TopSolid can set the WCS based on the actual kinematics of your specific machine. What’s more, TopSolid allows you to capture your preferred way of working with WCS solutions as well. This is perfect for those of you who want ultimate control. In the following video, I show you 3 diverse ways to manipulate WCS creation within TopSolid.
Choosing the angular solutions that work best for you
The first way is to simply choose the angular solution that you want to use. When you select a face to machine in TopSolid, it automatically determines the WCS for you. However, based on your machine kinematic, it will choose by default, the first angular solution it finds. What’s cool though, is that TopSolid creates a WCS for all angular solutions possible at the same time. So, in this case, you can always simply choose the solution you want from the WCS list. This methodology is great for programmers that want to control everything on-the-fly as they program parts.
Learning to control how angular solutions are created makes for faster programming
The next way to control WCS creation would be to manipulate the usable stroke limits of the machine definition within the cam document. TopSolid will allow you to do this whenever you like, but please understand that this change will affect all operations within the document. To modify the stroke limits of a given axis, you need to go to the Entities manager | Machine | Axis and then right-mouse-click on the axis you want to modify. Next choose Edit Strokes from the bottom of the contextual menu. From here, activate the override and set the angular stroke limits that you want to use. Just remember, that the stroke limits you are setting must fall within the actual stroke limits of the machine. Once this is set, all operations within this cam file will now follow these angular solution guidelines.
Teach TopSolid your preferred working angular solutions to go even faster
The final option that I show you in this video will show you how to set your preferred working range for angular solutions. Before I describe this, please understand that this is done within the Machine definition document. And as such, should only by modified by someone with experience making machine definitions in TopSolid. Typically, this is done by your local re-seller. Also, this option is only available in TopSolid 2017. The way it works is that we can now set the preferred working range for both minimum and maximum values for any given axis. With this information, TopSolid will dynamically always choose an angular solution within that working range first. But it will also give you all other angular solutions still so that you always have fast and easy control of your program.
Whichever methodology you choose to use, just remember it’s TopSolid’s job to make your manufacturing project as simple as possible while still giving you the freedom to work how you are most comfortable working.
Creating good side milling tool paths can be a challenge…well… for some cam software’s. But not for TopSolid! In fact some of the really challenging parts of creating a good side milling operation are related to defining the correct area to machine.
In this sample, we are going to work on a solid model. Programming on a solid model can bring its own challenges as well. But again, in TopSolid, you will learn that most of the challenges of other systems just disappear into the ether of cam solutions past.
Alt Selection Side Milling
For the first sample, you will be introduced to using ALT Selection to select single faces to side mill. This can be a great strategy for machining simple faces like an outside vertical corner radius or chamfer. Just use the ALT key and left mouse select the face to machine. This action tells TopSolid to only machine that face.
Truncated Contouring Side Milling
In the next sample, you will learn how to use Truncated Contouring. This mode of contouring allows you to focus on one local feature at a time. By default, when you use Side Milling in TopSolid, TopSolid tries to side mill everything it can. This is done based on all features that have the same final Z altitude that the face selected to machine has. With Truncated Contouring you have a quick method to tell TopSolid to only machine the local feature based on the face selected. It’s a very fast and efficient tool that helps you get to the finish line quickly.
Dynamic Profile Trimming in Side Milling
The next need-to-know method will be how to use Dynamic Profile Trimming. With Dynamic Profile Trimming you have the ability to trim the TopSolid Proposed tool path to better meet your manufacturing need. In many cases, when doing solid based programming, Cam software’s can often give you more than you need. So you are left to go back and draw your own profile. But with this mode you can manipulate the machined profile quickly and easily…thus saving yourself a lot of unnecessary steps.
Use Side Milling on a Sketch
The final example will show you how to create a sketch or profile to use with side milling. When using a sketch with side milling, you have a lot of control. You can:
Purely follow the profile (no gouge check against solid)
Follow the profile only where there is stock (with gouge check)
Follow the profile, but ignore stock to machine (with gouge check)
Follow the profile, but check against the solid model
The following video will walk you through samples of everything discussed above.
Now, this article only shows you some of the common side milling features of TopSolid. What’s more, this is only a 2D sample. Just imagine the possibilities of what TopSolid has to offer for complex tool paths.
In this Tips & Tricks Video, you will learn how to create a tool definition for a bull nosed end mill with a holder for use within TopSolid’Cam. The idea here is to show you a very fast way of creating a custom tool definition. This is a great way to get a custom tool definition into TopSolid quickly and efficiently.
The first thing you need to know is that there are quite a few different ways to get to the finish line with tool definitions in TopSolid. And the reason for this is that there are many companies with many different needs. This video focuses on a fast and efficient way of adding a custom tool definition to TopSolid.
Now, regardless of which way you use, they all have something in common. All of the tool definitions have to have their frames oriented a very specific way. This is very important because if you do not define your frames correctly, your tool will not function correctly.
The image to the right will describe in detail how frames need to be located and oriented. As I mentioned above, it is critical that you define your frames correctly.
After you have created your frames, you will also need to create two (2) sketches. These sketches will be used to define the revolution profiles for the cutter and the holder. These profiles are used by TopSolid for collision checking and material updating.
The video below will walk you through the creation of everything from start to finish. For this video, I have assumed that you already have the models that you need. This video will include instruction on:
In the world of parametric design, there is always the problem of fixing update problems. For example, you go back to an earlier feature to make a change. Then when you rebuild, you find that that change had caused update problems to other features. Like a lot of software on the market, TopSolid will show you where the problem is. And that’s helpful for sure. But unlike all the other software on the market, TopSolid takes it a bit further with the Update Heals command.
The Update Heals command automatically tries to resolve update problems for you. It does it by simply remove items that are causing rebuild problems. In this video, you will be shown how the Update Heals command works and how to control it a bit. After all, controls like this are really only useful if you really understand how to use them.
When working with a 3d solid modeling solution like TopSolid, it is very important that you understand how its sketcher functions. Most 3d modeling solutions have one way to create and work with sketches. And that one way is supposed to fit every need you have.
The problem with that notion is that your needs change all of the time. The way you define geometry within a sketch needs to be completely flexible. What do I mean? Sometimes you may want to create a simple sketch, while other times you may want to create a really intelligent sketch. Perhaps you want to create a sketch that allows you to apply operations to it that really allow you to capture your design intent more cleanly. Thankfully for you, you use TopSolid and have the freedom to do both.
Understanding a sketcher
Let’s start by understanding what a sketcher is first. A sketcher allows you to create wire-frame based geometry. In TopSolid there is a 2d Sketcher and a 3d Sketcher. For this discussion, we will be focusing on the 2d sketcher.
A 2d sketcher allows you to create wire-frame on a specific plane. The sketcher environment at the solving level, allows you to define the sketch using dimensional relationships as well as geometric relationships. These are known as constraints. In the image to the right, you will see a sample of a constrained sketch. This image shows both dimensional and geometric constraints. Continue reading Sketcher: Constraint based sketch vs. sketch operations→