Making tool management simple – Is it possible?

Making tool management simple – Is it possible?

If producing machined parts for your manufacturing tools is a complex process, should the system that is supposed to make it more efficient be a “necessary evil”? Considering the cost of stopping production because a part is missing from the tool magazine, the necessity of a good tool management system seems obvious, but it does not have to be complicated as it should be designed to make your processes more efficient and safer. Here is how.

1) “Tool Management”: what do we mean by that?

Tool management encompasses physical tool management in a workshop as well as all the technical data attached to each tool and component used in your manufacturing process. This is usually handled by a dedicated software designed to assist machine parts manufacturing by automatically loading technical data into the CAD/CAM system as well as managing tools’ and components’ physical inventory.

Tool management becomes even more important when considering next-generation CAD/CAM software. Based on 3D modeling, machine kinematics, advanced simulation and many other tools needed to create high-precision machined parts, a lot of data is generated to ensure that the products coming off your assembly lines are of the highest quality.

This data needs to be accurate, up-to-date, available, and ready to be retrieved. This way, you avoid inaccuracies and save time and money in the overall process, which also means improving profits.

2) Challenges that come with tool management

Since tools and components for manufacturing processes are a very large and complex topic, one of the biggest challenges is the interface to get the 3D data into the CAD/CAM application. Indeed, in addition to the 3D graphic, a tool also contains many parameters and functions in space that form the basis of the toolpath algorithm in CAM. If there is a single faulty parameter, the operation in CAM is invalid and cannot be generated.

Another challenge is that most of the available solutions on the market only work by pure database application, which means that you only get a graphic view (and not a 3D visualization) of the part to be produced. This makes it confusing and complicated to use, especially for occasional users. Most of these solutions do not facilitate 3D data management or even offer a functional interface for CAM applications.

3) The benefits of a good tool management solution

If all the data for each tool and component are centrally managed, any information can be retrieved at any time and from anywhere in the company. In addition, good tool management ensures that all references and back references are stored, not only for transmission to the CAM system, but also for all existing NC programs. This allows you to better plan for new programs as well as improve change management.

A good tool management solution also provides you with a real time picture of your tool magazine on the shop floor, allowing you to directly synchronize your machine magazine with your CAM environment. Therefore, by centralizing production data, you can optimize your workshop organization and increase overall productivity by:

·       Reducing machine set-up lead time

·       Improving traceability of program modifications

·       Providing precise tool location

·       Monitoring the use and wear of tools

4) Advice for beginners

If you are thinking about implementing a tool management system, you should look for a solution that will help you to efficiently manage your tool components, your assembled tools, their life cycle, and is running on a single data source that is always easily and readily accessible. But above all, it should be adapted to your activity!

The tool management solution you consider should be able to adapt to your existing processes, workflows, and growth strategy by being completely modular and scalable. Think big in order to be able to implement additional modules in the future!

You should also be able to build on your existing NC data. As you are not starting from scratch, your tool management solution should automatically take into account your existing data in an intelligent way. Indeed, you cannot afford to stop production while you fill in and set up the database. The system must be able to connect existing data, learn and expand while using it, and integrate it step by step.

5) Why TopSolid’ShopFloor can answer your needs in terms of tool management

What makes TopSolid really unique on the market is that there is no interface between the tool management system and the CAM application. TopSolid’ShopFloor is a product that is completely based on TopSolid’PDM as are all TopSolid solutions. Thus, components and tools are controlled by revision, oriented towards properties and BOMs like a “standard” part or assembly and are fully associable with all modules available in TopSolid (CAM, Design, Draft, …).

To easily create components and assemblies, TopSolid provides libraries to create your own components from fully parameterized ISO 13399 models. Of course, you can also import and use supplier data. TopSolid’ShopFloor supports all data, even data from other tool management systems.

Searching for components and creating assemblies are simple and can be managed via TopSolid’ShopFloor Tool Manager. The fully graphical drag and drop assembly process is very user friendly and is a great help in daily activities.

In other words, a system that:

  • has no interface
  • does not translate or transform any data to create the toolpath
  • builds the data source on the TopSolid core

We can 100% guarantee that a tool defined in the TopSolid environment is functional throughout the process, from CAM to presetting and machining.

TOPSOLID is a leading CAD/CAM software company in the world. With more than 35 years of experience, we are able to offer fully integrated CAD/CAM solutions adapted to your industry, whether it is in mechanics (machines, tools, etc.), sheet metal or wood industry. Wherever a machine interacts with the material to be machined, whether to shape or produce a part, we have an adapted, innovative, and unique solution. To learn more, contact us!

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.  

How TOPSOLID supports you throughout the process of using your CAD/CAM software

How TOPSOLID supports you throughout the process of using your CAD/CAM software

From its implementation to its handling, the roll-out of a CAD/CAM software within the company is a major project, which requires the mobilization of human resources over time. Aware of this central issue, TOPSOLID places support and proximity to its customers at the heart of its value. In doing so, the CAD/CAM software solution publisher enables the company to overcome the obstacle of complexity inherent in the implementation of tools that are essential to its development. The company makes sure that its project is completed more quickly. How does this proximity translate? How does TOPSOLID support TopSolid users in the long term? Explanations.

Support starting from the preliminary phase of the CAD/CAM project


 A CAD/CAM project is carried out in several stages. In advance, the company defines its objectives and establishes its specifications in order to choose the most suitable solution. This step can be difficult for the company: what are the business specificities to be taken into account when choosing the software? What features are required to get the maximum benefits from the tool? Managers do not necessarily have an outside perspective of their business, nor do they necessarily have an in-depth knowledge of the workings of CAD/CAM software.

This is why TOPSOLID deploys its teams to your company even before choosing a software.

A sales representative and a specialized technician will have a meeting with you in order to identify the technical and economic constraints related to your project and/or business, and will therefore explain your technical requirements.

Your technical requirements and the necessary budget are then evaluated.

At the end of this meeting, a second meeting is organized at your location in order to make a customized presentation to your teams. The demonstration/presentation is adapted according to the requirements jointly determined during the first meeting. You are able to make an informed decision when choosing your tool by discovering how it works and the benefits of a customized solution for your company’s needs.

Installing a CAD/CAM software is a long-term investment, therefore it is essential to choose the most suitable solution: this is what TOPSOLID allows you to do thanks to its support and personalized advice starting from the preliminary stage of your project.


Certified training for your teams in our TOPSOLID agencies

Each TopSolid offer includes a comprehensive training course provided to your users at a TOPSOLID agency. The publisher of TopSolid products has at least five agencies in France, for  beneficial geographical proximity. Paris, Nancy, Nantes, Lyon or Toulouse: you can deploy your training teams in the agency of your choice.

TopSolid training courses are recognized by the French State and are saved in the CNCP inventory. Being holders of recognized certification, your teams have significant added value and firmly expand their field of expertise. The company is reaping considerable benefits.

Do you have specific constraints? TopSolid course instructors can travel to your location: a dedicated consultant will visit your company directly for whatever period of time is required to successfully deploy and configure your solution and at the same time, ensure that your teams are efficiently trained.

Expert advisers available by telephone to answer any question

Holder of a CAD/CAM software license, you can benefit from unlimited customer support for a minimum period of 6 months via the TOPSOLID hotline. You can therefore benefit from direct and priority contact with professionals based in France: thanks to a competent and responsive customer service, able to individually monitor your portfolio, you are supported in the initial stages of the implementation of your CAD/CAM solution. This form of telephone support is reassuring: the teams using the TopSolid tools know that they can rely on experts if ever there are any questions, doubts or difficulties whatsoever.

Your project is implemented in the best conditions, quickly and efficiently.

 Please note: using the hotline services is an opportunity for TOPSOLID to identify the recurring problems of its customers. TopSolid products can therefore be regularly updated and improved in line with the requirements and needs of users expressed during their conversations with customer service representatives. Thanks to its close relationship with customers, TOPSOLID is able to offer even more efficient and better adapted solutions.


Maintenance throughout the duration of your CAD/CAM license for long-term relationship

At the end of the six-month free hotline service, you can opt for a specific maintenance contract. You will have unlimited access to a dedicated customer support for the duration of your license agreement. This contract also gives you access to every new version of the software, thus guaranteeing the sustainability of your investment.

 At the same time, TOPSOLID offers you access to the new training courses that are essential in the context of the development of your TopSolid CAD/CAM software. You should provide your users with certified training each year.

TOPSOLID is the only player on the market to offer an integrated modeling (CAD), manufacturing (CAM) solution via its TopSolid products. Beyond in-depth business expertise, TOPSOLID develops its close relationship with its customers on a daily basis. This is essential to develop CAD/CAM software in accordance with the user needs. TOPSOLID sets itself apart by supporting its customers in the field and offering a personalized consulting service throughout all phases when implementing their CAD/CAM software. This is why companies of all sizes have trusted TOPSOLID and have entrusted it with their projects for more than a quarter of a century. From small and medium sized companies to large groups, every company has a lot to gain from implementing innovative tools internally. TOPSOLID allows you to access it. Take a look at some of our loyal customers.

TopSolid CAD/CAM Product Range