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How can Autodesk FeatureCAM help reduce costs in your business?

The modern manufacturing world is one that changes rapidly. Advances in technology and the effects of global trade mean that you must constantly look to reduce costs and increase productivity to stay one step ahead of the competition.
Autodesk FeatureCAM is one of the tools that can really make a significant difference to your bottom line. It is Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) software that helps to control CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine processes, leading to lower production costs and more efficient workflows.
This article will take a look at the many useful features and tools of FeatureCAM, how it reduces costs and some of the other business benefits of using this powerful software.

What does it do?

Quite simply, it’s a tool-laden CAM package that makes CNC machining easier. The main function of the software is to remove the need to program the machinery. Instead, the operator can select different operations using their common shop names, such as mill, turn, cut, bolt, drill, bore, etc. The system interprets the commands and applies them to the machinery in such a way that speeds up the process, reduces waste and cuts costs.
The built-in artificial intelligence (AI) recognizes and automatically applies settings such as the correct tool speed, amount of torque and drill angles. The operator can customize and adjust other settings and parameters through the user interface rather than having to input the code line-by-line. If the same machining processes are to be repeated, these settings can be set as defaults, saving a lot of time and effort.
The software also has a neat, built-in AI element known as Directed Automated Feature (DAFR), that analyzes the imported 3D design and recognizes features such as holes, sides, bosses, and pockets. This automates and speeds up the programming to an even greater degree.

Benefits of using FeatureCAM

Reduced Cycle Time
For most manufacturers of CNC-machined parts, minimizing the cycle time is a priority. FeatureCAM does this by reducing the programming time, as mentioned earlier, and it also speeds up the actual processes of cutting, turning and drilling.
For parts that need turning, the DAFR feature finds (and allows the operator to select) index angles which cut down the number of Z-axes needed. This results in faster cutting times.
More Accurate Results
In recent versions of the software, drilling has been enhanced with the addition of extra center drill settings and parameters. Drill tip and included angles can be customized, allowing the application of highly accurate chamfers. The numerical control code is automatically adjusted to take these into account.
User-Friendly Interface
The ease-of-use and familiar, Windows-inspired theme of the software sets it apart from other similar products. The ribbons and menus are easy to navigate and intuitive. Operations, commands, and controls are named and organized clearly. Everything is simplified as much as possible, meaning that operators can learn to set up and use the software quickly.
Edit and Customize Imported Designs
Manufacturers of specialist parts often rely on drawings and designs provided by their clients. The quality and detail of these drawings can vary, sometimes being no more than a basic CAD (Computer-Aided Design) sketch. FeatureCAM scores by including a ‘construct’ feature that allows users to create and edit geometry. For example, if a client only sends you 2D sketches of their order, the lines and basic features can be imported, edited and easily modeled into 3D.
Mixing Automation with Customization
Complex parts with intricate designs and complicated features may cause problems with other software packages that rely too heavily on automated recognition. FeatureCAM has just the right blend of automation and customization to counteract this problem. In other words, the software can automatically recognize and program around 70% of a typical job, leaving control of the more complex machining to the operator through the easy-to-use GUI (graphical user interface).
For some more information on the new features for FeatureCAM 2019, check out this article.

Summary

The basic goal of Autodesk FeatureCAM is to get the job done as quickly and accurately as possible. This is music to the ears of manufacturers of customizable or specialist parts. If you regularly take orders for small to medium-sized runs of machined parts, then Autodesk’s CAM software will make your life much easier and will save you a small fortune by reducing cycle times and cutting down on costly machining mistakes.

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