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 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.
Programming 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.
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?
The following video was put together by our reseller in Mexico, CIMCo. Feel free to visit them here. I think that they did a great job of showcasing the TopSolid solution for Mold design, simulation and manufacturing within this video.
Part of what makes TopSolid such a great platform is its continued focus to solve manufacturing problems for our customers. In the case of mold manufacturing doesn’t it make more sense to work with a solution that does 100% of the process within the same platform? This includes:
Plastic flow simulation
Full 3d mold design with standard components
Document management (PDM)
Have a look at this cool sample and see for yourself why you should choose TopSolid as your manufacturing platform.
Let’s face it, change happens. It happens in all aspects of our lives from work to play. And change is good too…isn’t it? Well?
In the engineering and manufacturing world change happens often. What’s more these changes are never supposed to delay delivery times. Right…
Probably one of the biggest challenges in manufacturing is the infamous revision. Let’s paint a picture.
You are a manufacturer. You use product X to machine parts with.
Your customer uses product Y to engineer their products with. They send you data in a neutral way so that you can read it into your product of choice.
Now the fun happens. You begin designing and programming up your customers part. Life is good. You figure out a way to get to your finish line a day early. Life is great! You begin running first off’s of your project to prove out the program. You check your work. Only minor tweaks needed. Life is Fantastic!!!
The phone rings…
It’s your customer. They found a mistake in their project and have just emailed you an updated file with the corrections.
Your world shatters…just a little bit.
Because now you effectively have to completely start over with everything. But you tell yourself how much faster you will do it the second time around. So you have that going for you.
Why do you need to start over? That’s simple. The product that you work with, while it may be very widely used, was never written to allow changes like this to happen. Because of this business critical limitation in your solution, you get to basically throw away a lot of hard work.
Now, I know that some will say that I am making a big deal out of this. And I say they are correct! I know that every software has their ways to help you try and reuse portions of the original work. But it is always just portions.
What if there was a better way?
TopSolid is that better way. TopSolid is written with the focus on manufacturing and how it actually happens. TopSolid is written to work with you…not against you.
In the video below, we walk you through such a scenario. My part is fully programmed and my customer sends me a revision. So what’s different?
What’s different is that TopSolid does all of the heavy lifting for you. What’s different is this is basically automatic. What’s different is you are back up and running your part within a few minutes, design changes included. What’s different is that your world may not have to shatter slightly each time your customer sends you a revision.
And do you want to know the best part? This works with any data from and cad platform on the market. It works with native data (SolidWorks, SolidEdge, Catia…). It works with neutral data (Parasolid, Step, Igs, Acis…).
Watch the video. Tell me what you think. From my standpoint there is a better way to work.
Sometimes, due to your manufacturing process, you want to be able to define a custom plunge point for your tool. In the following video, you will learn how to define a plunge point within the End Milling and the Side Milling commands.