Category Archives: Tips & Tricks

Simple Geometry Optimizations can save on cycle time and tool life!

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!

 

Safely run your 5 axis mill with confidence

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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!

 

Stop Struggling with angular solutions in 5 axis milling

Stop fighting and program more parts

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

Manage all angular solutions with TopSolid Automatically

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

Set the limits of your angular solutions with TopSolidThe 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

Set the angular solutions preferred working range with TopSolidThe 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.

Side Milling is easy with TopSolid…

topsolid-tips-and-tricksCreating 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

Use ALT+Left Click to select single face side milling
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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

Truncated contouring machines a local feature with side milling
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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

Dynamic profile trimming allows to modify the suggested profile from side milling
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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

Use a sketch to side mill with ultimate control
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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.

Define custom tool from an assembly quickly

topsolid-tips-and-tricksIn 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.

This image describes how frames needs to be oriented for a proper tool definition in TopSolid
Click on the image to enlarge

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:

  • Creation of the tool assembly
  • Creation of the two frames needed
  • Creation of the two sketches needed
  • A walk through of the Tool Wizard command
  • A test of the newly defined tool

 

Update Heals – Automatically fixes update issues

topsolid-tips-and-tricksIn 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.

Sketcher: Constraint based sketch vs. sketch operations

topsolid-tips-and-tricksWhen 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

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.

Different types of TopSolid sketcher constraints 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

Rolling up Wizard and 4 Axis Radial Engraving


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In this quick tip video for TopSolid 7, you will be shown how to create a 4 axis radial engraving tool path. To do this, you will be introduced to two cool features.  The first is the Rolling up Wizard.

The Rolling up Wizard makes it super easy to create any 4 axis profile that you need to machine.  In this case, we will use this command to roll up “TopSolid” around a cylinder for our engraving sample.

The second feature you will be introduced to is radial mode from the side milling command. The side milling command, with radial mode activated, will allow you to quickly and easily machine a 4 axis radial feature.

Cam Tips & Tricks: Setting the driven point for a turning tool

TopSolid Getting Started tutorial logoProgramming a turning center should be relatively easy to deal with. After all, there’s only two axes of motion. But what happens, when you add more capabilities to the machine? For example, what if we add a Y axis for milling? Or What if we replace the standard turret by a B-Axis turret that can rotate to any angular solution you desire? It is here that we will start our discussion.
As soon as you have a turning tool in your B axis head at an angle other than Vertical or Horizontal, programming can a bit more difficult. Why? This is because now you have to take into consideration where the driven point of the turning tool is while at the specified B axis angle.topsolidcam-driven-points
For many cam software’s, this is very difficult to manage. They may even tell you it’s impossible to do or too costly to develop.
Thankfully you use TopSolid. You use a CAD/CAM solution that understands manufacturing.
In this video, you will be introduced to how simple it really is to define the correct driven point of your turning tool…regardless of the angle you set your B axis too! Moreover you will see that with every change you make to the driven points, the tool path will update dynamically to show you the result of your change.
The dynamic nature of TopSolid helps you to visualize the result in real time. Being able to do this helps to empower you to program complex machines like this with total confidence. And after all…isn’t that why you purchased your Cad/Cam solution to start with?

Use an imported mold base with ease

When designing a full 3d mold you need the flexibility to work with any supplier of standard mold components. In this video, you will learn how TopSolid gives you the tools you need to get to the finish line quickly and efficiently. In this case you will learn how to import a mold base design from an outside vendor and turn it into a “smart mold base” by using the Mold Base Wizard.  A smart mold base is one that TopSolid’s mold automation works with fully.  For example, by running the mold base wizard to describe the imported components as a mold base, you allow downstream functions such as the ejector pin or water line command to work seamlessly with the plates.