Seeing really is believing; making the case for full machine simulation in CAD/CAM.

Author:Fishman, Hanan
Position:Full machine simulation technology

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is the value of a virtual reality animation?

If you are responsible for the programming of a high-tech turn-mill center or Swiss-type lathe, the answer is: a lot!

This is why, in the latest version of PartMaker, we have introduced a new technology called Full Machine Simulation, or FMS for short. FMS is a truly ground breaking technology and is the result of an intensive research and development begun a number of years ago.

PartMaker's FMS module is an optional module available with Version 8 of PartMaker's Turn-Mill and SwissCAM products. FMS allows users to perform a vivid 3-D simulation of the part they are programming on a more realistic model of their machine tool than was offered in previous PartMaker versions. The machining of a programmed part can be simulated against the backdrop of a solid model of the machine, including realistic-looking machine components and toolholders.

The bottom line: With previous versions of PartMaker, users typically reported they were able to reduce their machine setup time on new jobs by over 50 percent by implementing the software. With the advent of FMS, we think we can help PartMaker users do even better. Further reducing setup time will result in even greater cost savings and productivity improvements.

Why FMS helps

The benefit of FMS technology to the user is the ability to visualize, on an offline computer, the entire machining process as it will occur on their actual machine. Doing so allows the user to foresee potential costly errors, including a variety of collisions as well as potential machine over-travels. Over-travels can occur when a tool is programmed to cut a greater distance than the mechanical capacity of machine can accommodate. Exact machine travel limits are associated with each machine model in FMS.

Catching errors offline is critical for users of multi-axis turn-mills and Swiss-type lathes, because doing so eliminates costly downtime on the floor as well as potential damage to very expensive capital equipment. In today's ultra-competitive manufacturing environment, probably one of the biggest keys to success is the ability to get a new job set up and running quickly on a machine, with an absolute minimum of downtime.

For U.S. manufacturers, the long-running jobs that were typically placed on turn-mill centers and Swiss-type lathes just a few years ago are becoming harder and harder to come by. Thus, as lot sizes dwindle, the need to get...

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