Machine shops spend thousands of dollars per year writing long, complex G-Codes for their CNC machines (computer numerical control). CAD-CAM (Computer Aided Design – Computer Aided Manufacturing) software is the best way to optimize CNC machining and reduce cost. The suite of CAD-CAM software available from Autodesk is the best all-in-one option to achieve this.
Autodesk’s suite of CAD-CAM software offers a fully integrated solution for all phases of product design, development, manufacture and quality control. Here are 7 benefits to your CNC machine shop if it partners with Autodesk (and the software that makes it possible).
1. Business optimization
Fusion Production enables true smart manufacturing. It uses cloud computing and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to combine production planning, job tracking and machine monitoring. It provides real-time access to production data, providing insight into overall equipment effectiveness and production efficiency.
Using a single user interface, managers are able to monitor key performance indicators such as:
- Job card status
- Operator efficiency
- Workstation utilization
- Factory status
- Production capacity
Coupled with PowerMill, the Fusion Production software avoids manual data entry and allows NC (numerical control) programs to be sent directly to workstations, eliminating the need for manual machine programming and associated errors.
2. Eliminate data translation problems
PowerShape software assists engineers to import, analyze and fix solid, mesh or surface-based models of molds, dies or complex parts in preparation for manufacture. Irrespective of the native CAD software used to create the model, or the model format, PowerShape is able to analyze the imported data and identify critical errors that may complicate downstream processes. This saves costly manufacturing delays and errors that may occur later.
Solid and surface-based models can be edited in PowerShape to optimize tool shutoff phases and split lines, minimizing the need for hand polishing of matching tool faces after machining.
3. Create optimized CNC machining tool paths
PowerMill creates fully editable tool paths to allow for optimized CNC machining. Engineers are able to customize every aspect of the CNC machining operation by editing start and finish points, the cutting direction, and the type of tool used.
Tool path macros can be made for generic cutting processes. This saves the time to program mundane, repetitive cutting processes, reducing overall programming time.
Combining PowerShape and PowerMill creates a powerful combination that easily creates tool paths for 3 and 5-axis machining. It also allows engineers to optimize NC programming through simulation to verify tool paths before starting the first cut on a CNC machine.
4. Reduce the risk of equipment and workpiece damage
FeatureCAM analyzes tool paths to identify and rectify potential crash conditions. During programming, the software recognizes collision conditions and can automatically program a tool change to avoid the collision.
Engineers can identify areas of the workpiece that may create problems during CNC machining and deny tool access to them. FeatureCAM will exclude these sections in the rest of the analysis and will not program tool paths to such areas.
In multi-axis machines, FeatureCAM will automatically utilize the rotation of additional axes to increase the clearance between the cutting tool and the workpiece, minimizing the risk of a collision.
5. Maintain model associativity
Autodesk’s CAD-CAM software fully integrates across various applications. This means that model associativity is maintained, allowing for changes made to a CAD model to be updated in CAM without the need to fully reprogram tool paths.
Geometry changes applied in CAD will be flagged in CAM and in most cases automatically updated. This ensures that the latest design changes are effectively communicated before machining starts, reducing the risk and cost of machining “old” level components.
6. Better workforce utilization
AutodeskHSM fully integrates into Autodesk Inventor. This allows engineers to design components in Inventor, and then program tool paths in Inventor without the need to switch to another software package or the need to use a dedicated CNC programmer.
FeatureCAM’s automatic feature-recognition capability allows for standardization of the machining process. Expert machinists can set up machining templates and make them available to all programmers, irrespective of their level of experience. The advantage of this is automatic transfer of knowledge and experience without the need for time-consuming, dedicated training sessions.
7. Improve productivity of CNC machines
CNC machine productivity can be increased by up to 50% through high-speed machining, reduced tool wear and reduced machine wear. PowerMill allows for machine motion analysis and optimization in a virtual environment. Multiple iterations can be analyzed before real-world CNC machining starts.
Tool over-travel and repetitive, non-productive tool travel can be identified and eliminated. This reduces overall machine cycle time and reduces machine running time, saving cost and wear.