Creating a custom tool library in TopSolid


Step 1 – Creating a Tool Library

Within the first video of this series, we are going to start learning how to create a custom tool library.

You can import several files at a time with conversion. TopSolid will translate all of the imported files automatically and they will be housed in TopSolid in a highly organized manner. But, before I can start building tools, I need to associate my library with a reference – in this case TopSolid Machining.

For each tool within our library, we will need to define the tool, and thankfully TopSolid has a helpful wizard to help you to manage this definition process. Watch video

Step 2 –  Prepare Tool for Definition

The second video within this tutorial series is dedicated to telling TopSolid everything it needs to know about a given tool. But, there’s some preparation work we need to do. The tool we are working with is an imported model and because it consists of multiple solids, it imported as an assembly file. However, by utilizing TopSolid’s heal command you can check the integrity of the part and simplify the part’s geometry. Simplifying the part’s geometry creates smaller files allowing the system to run faster and avoid mistakes.

For our tool to ultimately machine correctly, we will create a couple of cutting frames. Cutting frames allow you to tell TopSolid how a tool will be positioned within the fixture, and how the tool’s features will behave from a cutting perspective. The final step in preparing our tool for definition is creating a sketch on the frame. We will utilize this sketch within the next video as we create our tool definition. Watch video

Step 3 – An Easy-to-Use Wizard Creates Tool Definition

We are now ready to define the tool. To define this as a cutting tool, we need to select function from the tools pulldown menu. After selecting the machining components wizard, the wizard dialog box appears.

In this case, we will select the cutter option within the wizard to designate that we are, in fact, defining a cutting tool. We specify that it is a turning tool, the type of turning tool and the needed holding fixture. Then we provide other relevant details like the hand of the tool, cutting shape, cutting edge size, cutting shape, offsets, and a few other details. With the needed information entered within the wizard, the tool is ready to be used within TopSolid’CAM. The next step is testing to make sure that we established all our tool definitions correctly which is covered within the next video. Watch video

Step 4 – Test Tool Definition

We now need to test the tool we just created to make sure that it functions properly. The best way to test to the tool is to create a quick test project. After very quickly designing a part to test our tool, we need to create machine part setup. I input our stock condition and to save time within the video, I select the Mori NT machining center which I have previously defined. In this case, we will place our tool on the lower turret of the Mori NT and to find our tool, we must reference the MS Tool Library we created when we first started this project.

After placing the tool within the fixture, you can adjust the offset and other settings as needed. If everything is working correctly – and spoiler alert it is – TopSolid will create a cutting toolpath. Finally, we turn on machine simulation and confirm that, yes, our tool has been defined correctly. Watch video

Step 5 – Finalizing Tool Definition

With our turning part fully defined and tested, our final step is managing our tool at the library level. Because one of TopSolid’s major benefits is that it is a PDM-based system, you will save yourself and your organization a great deal of time by managing your tool library well. So, we need to close the major revision and validate the tool.

This tool validation step is not required, but it is highly encouraged. If you use this tool in multiple projects, any corrections to the “master” validated tool will be pushed to older, current and future projects effortlessly. If you do not validate the tool, corrections need to be applied manually to possibly hundreds of scenarios – tasks I personally do not relish. The long and short of it is that taking advantage of TopSolid’s PDM-based solution and applying tool library management best practices, a great deal of time can be saved, with potential errors drastically reduced. Watch video

Step 6 – Define ID Boring Bar and Test It

To further demonstrate tool creation in TopSolid, we are going to create one more tool. Our tool has multiple bodies; therefore, is categorized as an assembly in TopSolid. But, we need TopSolid to see our tool as one part. To save time, one option is to re-import the part as a single part file.

Using the “re-import as a single file shortcut,” we still need to use the heal command as we did with our turning part. But, because our tool was imported as one part, there is only one body to select.

Just as we did with our turning tool, we need to create needed cutting frames, then define the tool. We select function within the tools pulldown menu. After selecting the machining components wizard, the wizard dialog box appears.

Because this tool is an ID boring bar, we select the cutter option within the wizard to designate that we are, in fact, defining a cutting tool. Then we provide all of the relevant details just as we did with our turning tool, but as we move through the wizard we realize that there is a problem with the tool and a non-manifold condition has been created. This challenge presents a great opportunity to show you how easy it is to do some quick detective work and fix the problem in TopSolid.

Our new ID boring bar is ready to be used within TopSolid CAM. Quick testing and validation confirms that we are indeed ready to add this new tool to our building tool library. Watch video

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