TOPSOLID SAS and Thibaut Group establish a partnership: review of an exemplary case study

TOPSOLID SAS and Thibaut Group establish a partnership: review of an exemplary case study

Thibaut, a company that manufactures machine tools, has joined the know-how and the software tool of the publisher TOPSOLID SAS to improve its solutions for stone machining. A newly developed programming assistance software, which is the result of the collaboration between the two companies, allows users to exploit the full potential of the Thibaut machines. A look back at a successful partnership.

Thibaut Group, manufacturer of machine tools since 1959

 

A family business founded in 1959, the manufacturer of machine tools has been developing progressively, relying on constant innovation to offer users the best solutions for stone machining. A winning bet, as evidenced: in 2020, Thibaut Group has sold more than 7,000 machines in over 70 countries.

 

A wide area of specialization

 

Renowned for its reliability, the brand prides itself not only in long experience but also in its extensive specialization. Thibaut designs, manufactures and markets machine tools for surfacing, polishing, cutting, calibrating and milling while working with all types of natural or agglomerated materials (granite, marble, stone, concrete, glass, resin, slate, ceramics, etc.). These machines are aimed at a very wide range of customers, including sectors as diverse as decoration, funeral, as well as architectural concrete. In their catalog to date, “more than thirty different solutions: CNC cutting machines and machining centers, multifunction manual machines, texturing machines, molding machines, milling machines, edge and flat polishers, etc.” says the head of the Design Department, Alain Calas.

 

The industrial group, which now has a strong international presence, is multiplying its sites – factories, after-sales service, testing, development and training center to meet the growing customer demand. As a backdrop to its expansion efforts, its trademark has remained unchanged: always innovate.

 

A strong investment in R&D

 

Attentive to its customers’ needs, Thibaut structures its project teams in such a way as to respond precisely to their rapidly changing needs. To this end, three Design Offices are specifically dedicated to product innovation. The multifunctionality and versatility of the machines is the main objective for the research and development department, in order to be able to support the customers in the diversification of their activities.

 

Thanks to a significant investment in R&D, Thibaut remains faithful to its innovation policy. By continuing to meet the needs of the most demanding user in an ultra-reactive manner, the group is able to remain the leader in its market.

TopSolid CAD/CAM Product Range

Thibaut develops a CAD/CAM solution in collaboration with TOPSOLID SAS

 

2020: In order to offer the users high-performance machining solutions which are perfectly adapted to the expected uses, Thibaut calls on TOPSOLID SAS. The newly developed programming assistance software fulfills these objectives: “the user only has to enter the 3D model of the part to be manufactured to obtain the machining strategies adapted to working with the circular saw or polishing machine”.

 

The right balance between autonomy and support

 

“Chosen after having tested about ten CAD/CAM publishers, TOPSOLID SAS had both the necessary know-how and the ADS (Application Development System) software platform which allowed us to develop certain simpler features independently. Other complex applications were developed with the assistance of the experts from TOPSOLID SAS.” Alain Calas illustrates here the concrete results of the collaboration: a part of the development was exclusively managed by Thibaut, the other part relied on the expert support of the publisher TOPSOLID SAS.

 

The application developed on the basis of TopSolid software results in two specific solutions:

 

  1. A highly automated and fully configurable solution for managing tools and 2D machining processes. Thanks to TopSolid’s ADS software platform, Thibaut was able to develop these new and simpler features completely independently.
  2. A solution adapted to 5-axis machining. The support from TOPSOLID SAS experts was invaluable for these more complex applications.

 

A win-win partnership, a lasting collaboration

 

Advantages of using the TopSolid application at Thibaut:

 

  • autonomy acquired through the use of the ADS (Application Development System) platform;
  • fast and efficient development of machining strategies adapted to the applications of Thibaut machine users;
  • development flexibility provided by an open, ergonomic software equipped with a native PDM (Product Data Management) like TopSolid.

 

Thibaut is able to offer users of his machines programming assistance adapted to their projects – and a source of profit. For its part, TOPSOLID SAS also benefits from this partnership, by adding a new know-how to its ecosystem and its range of skills. In view of these results, the two partners ensure a fruitful collaboration over the long term. The promise of new and more intelligent software solutions…

BoostMilling: how to save time on machining cycles?

BoostMilling: how to save time on machining cycles?

Extremely hard materials, exotic shapes: machining tools are often put to the test and their lifespan is sometimes limited. BoostMilling is a roughing strategy that removes material faster while increasing tool life. Let’s find out more about what BoostMilling  is and how it can save you money.

Switch from traditional machining to BoostMilling

In traditional machining, the path of a tool on a part to be machined leads to inconsistent material removal, because of the complex geometries. This “pass taking” variable results in overloading the tool. With BoostMilling, machining is “smoother”, for both the tool and the machine.

Example of a machining path without BoostMilling: the areas in red are those that are in overload

Step over in traditional machining

Decreasing the step over theoretically reduces the load. Therefore, going from 50 to 10 % of step over reduces the load by 40 %. Nevertheless, even in this configuration, the red areas in the previous diagram remain overloaded.

Going from 50 to 10 % of step over reduces the load by 40 %

The problem of the inconsistent angle between tool and material

Traditional tool paths also have two other disadvantages:

  • The tool/material angle is too large, greater than 90°;
  • This angle varies too much;

Therefore, if going from 50 to 10% of the step-over reduces the value of this angle, it still remains variable in some areas. The solution is therefore to find a tool path that keeps this angle.

 

The principle of BoostMilling

BoostMilling allows you to keep a constant pass taking on the entire tool path. How is this possible? By using complex tool paths, you can remove a homogeneous volume of material.

Use the full length of the tool with BoostMilling

In traditional machining, the radial width of each pass is large, greater than 50% of the tool diameter and a shallow depth. The principle of BoostMilling is to reduce this width while increasing the pass depth. This method also has the advantage of using the cutting tool over its entire length, which results in more even wear.

Keep a constant angle with BoostMilling

The power of BoostMilling lies in modifying the tool paths so as to maintain a constant angle. This makes it possible to considerably increase the speed per tooth.

Heat removal and constant pressure

By exerting constant pressure on the tool, not only is the radial pitch reduced, but the pass depth is also increased. The feed rate can be increased to 10 times greater than in traditional machining.

In addition, heat removal is easier with BoostMilling.

TopSolid CAD/CAM Product Range

What are the advantages of BoostMilling?

By choosing to switch to BoostMilling, you will benefit from several advantages that can impact your productivity in the long run.

Reduction of machining time

Although the tool paths are longer in BoostMilling, a high machining depth combined with a high feed rate greatly reduces “chip time”. Therefore, saving 30 to 70% more time is expected with BoostMilling.

For example, 3.5 hours spent in traditional machining operations correspond to 1.5 hours of machining time for a roughing cycle in BoostMilling.

 

Increased tool life

With BoostMilling, the load is distributed evenly over the entire tool. This means that there is less risk of tool breakage, which increases the lifespan of the tool. In addition, machining operations can be accelerated.

A tool lasts 5 to 10 times longer with BoostMilling.

 

Machine preservation

Overloading is one of the stresses to which machining machines are regularly subjected, along with vibrations. Overexertion of the tools is usually the cause. By reducing overloads, BoostMilling significantly reduces the stress on the machines.

BoostMilling increases machine life expectancy and reduces maintenance costs

 

Constant chip volumes

With BoostMilling, the forces on the tool are homogeneous, because the machined volume remains constant. Therefore, the amount of chips produced is also the same throughout the entire machining cycle.

 

Why is BoostMilling interesting?

The BoostMilling roughing strategy is extremely interesting for machining hard materials, parts with thin walls and during large material removal.

Machining hard materials

BoostMilling is particularly useful for machining hard or exotic materials. Indeed, these materials are difficult to machine and the tool life is greatly reduced with these materials. In addition, tool overloads and the associated heat generation are forcing machinists to reduce machining speeds.

Thin parts

BoostMilling is particularly suitable for machining parts with small wall thicknesses. Indeed, with this soft roughing technique, it is possible to machine as close as possible to the thin walls without the risk of breaking or deforming them.

BoostMilling is an additional TopSolid’Cam module that is aimed at machinists who wish to increase the life of their tools and save machining time. Are you a company concerned with the machining of large titanium parts with complex shapes? In this case, BoostMilling is for you!

Everything you need to know about programming complex parts

Everything you need to know about programming complex parts

In CAD/CAM, and particularly in machining, the manufacturing of parts with complex shapes must comply with the functional specifications expressed by the designer or the creator. The geometric model built in CAD is a digital reference model that must be reproduced as accurately as possible during the manufacturing phase. Complex shapes can sometimes be difficult to reproduce: adequate programming is therefore the key to success in CAD/CAM.

What is a complex part?

We speak of a complex part when there are topologies that must go through many machining paths, often with risk of collision, as well as areas that are difficult to access. The notion of the complexity of a part does not only depend on its shape or its size. In fact, the nature of the material used, the presence of residual stresses, the risk of overheating or the precision that is required are all factors that contribute to complicating the task for the machine tool operators.

 

Examples of complex parts

  • Aluminum moulds for plastic injection;
  • Automobile cylinder heads;
  • Inconel turbine blades for aeronautics;
  • Titanium bearings for the aerospace industry.

 

TopSolid CAD/CAM Product Range

Steps for successful programming

Before proceeding to the manufacturing stage, it is essential to be well prepared. The CAD file of the part to be designed must first be checked and the tolerances adjusted. It is obviously necessary to choose the machine and tools adapted to the expected result and, if possible, to go through a simulation stage. 

 

Preliminary analysis

Before starting the manufacturing stage, all parts must be checked. First, make sure that it is the correct part and the correct version of the file. 

 

Tolerance management

For a complex CAD model to be machinable, it often requires modification. In fact, in most situations, CAD models are drawn from nominal dimensions. However, manufacturing and machining operations impose tolerances that will need to be adjusted in the CAD files. If you are using a CAD/CAM software, think about its ability to modify the dimensions afterward.  

 

Choosing machines and cutting tools

Not all machines are created equal. Choosing the right machine depends on many parameters such as the shape of the part, the size, the material, etc. Likewise, there is a multitude of cutting tools dedicated to machining complex parts. Their shape depends on the geometries to be drilled, turned or milled, and the material they are made of is selected according to the material to be machined as well as the kinematic parameters. The choice of machines and tools will therefore strongly determine the success of the machining process.  

 

Go through a simulation step before starting the manufacturing

Machining complex parts is expensive, so it is best to avoid messing up the first parts and having to perform machining operations again. Therefore, simulating the tool paths in parallel with the programming allows the operator to compare the simulated model with the machining in progress, which prevents the risk of collision and enables real-time reaction.

 

Advantages of TopSolid

One of the challenges of CAD/CAM is producing complex parts using the minimum number of steps, the ideal is to be able to independently machine a part, without disassembly. TopSolid’Cam is therefore able to manage the programming of lathes/milling machines, whether turning combined with 2D or 3D milling operations as well as 4-axis or 5-axis continuous.  

 

Managing the latest tools

TopSolid’Cam is able to manage the new barrel milling cutters. These milling cutters are best able to adapt to the shapes with low curvature, which makes it possible to significantly reduce the number of passes in the 5-axis tool path.  

 

Dynamic machining in turning and milling

TopSolid’Cam integrates a high-performance machining function, which makes it possible to keep a constant volume of material removed during the machining process and therefore to wear out the cutting tools less quickly.  

Easy to modify afterward

The TopSolid software, and in particular the version dedicated to TopSolid’Cam machining, is extremely flexible as it offers powerful features that allow you to modify the parts afterward. This is an asset for the manufacturing of complex parts, which require many adjustments.  

 

Automatic shape detection

TopSolid can automatically detect basic shapes such as grooves, drillings and pockets on models designed with TopSolid, but also on imported models. This makes the software a valuable ally that helps to guide the operator to the right machining strategies through intelligent topological analysis.  

 

Powerful algorithms

The programming of complex 4-axis and 5-axis parts requires high-performance simulation tools and powerful automation. TopSolid’Cam incorporates valuable automatic features such as collision detection, which helps to reduce machining defects. Thanks to all the machining algorithms offered by TopSolid, it is possible to process all the parts of a mould, for example.