Capturing best shop practices: more insight from leading CAM software developers.

Position:2003 software report

Q How can software best capture "best shop practices?"

Peter Dickin, marketing manager, Delcam: Most CAD/CAM software now comes with a range of options for the user to customize the system for the particular "best practices" of the company. Some of these elements, such as the inclusion of standard catalogues, can be created by the software developer. However, the range of different materials, methods, and machine tools used by different companies means that no standard solution will provide the ultimate system for any one user. The range of tools available includes data management methods that enable component and assembly designs to be stored in a database for subsequent use. Similarly, the user can build up libraries of standard components, such as electrode blanks and holders, which can be used to standardize manufacturing processes. CAM software comes with a similar range of tools, including the use of macros and templates to simplify programming of similar parts.

Jeff Werner, marketing communications manager, CG Tech: Implementing CNC simulation and optimization software into the standard production process creates a quality control check mid helps to ensure that new NC programs cut correctly the first time without the need for time-consuming manual prove-outs. This saves labor, machine time, and proofing materials, and ensures a high standard of quality for all NC programs entering the workshop. Software can also be used to harness the expertise and experience of all shop personnel in order to get consistent machining results regardless of who programs the job. In the case of NC program optimization software, the best practices for metal cutting are saved in the system.

Mark Summers, president, MasterCAM/CNC Software: Save them in the software. CAM packages have special libraries where the user can save favorite machining strategies. These "best shop practices" can then be dropped onto a new CAD model, ensuring that parts are cut exactly as the shop wants them. This is a great tool for new programmers, for maintaining consistency, and for using the knowledge of your most experienced programmers to its fullest potential. It's most useful when a single strategy contains a number of different toolpaths. For example, a shop may have a specific set of tooling and strategies it prefers for 2D pockets with drill holes. A single best practice can be created and saved. It may include roughing tool and toolpath, finishing tool and toolpath...

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