TopSolid CADCAM: CAM

Arguably the most balanced and complete fully integrated CADCAM product available at any price. When it comes to CAM TopSolid CADCAM blows traditional products like Mastercam, Gibbscam, etc. away with how it constantly keeps track of the stock model and that's just the tip of the iceberg on how good it is.

TopSolid CADCAM 7 is designed to easily handle multiple projects at once. Check out this screen shot:





Machine Simulation:

In TopSolid CADCAM your Machine Simulation is defined up front and bound to a Machine Definition before you ever create any toolpath.

This means that you can use Machine Simulation when you are creating toolpath not after you are done creating toolpath. When you define your Machine Simulation up front and bind it to a Machine Definition like Missler TopSolid CAM does there is one other advantage: There is zero setup time for doing Machine/Part simulation.




Most CAM systems can only save solid cut part simulations (stl models) as .stl files. Stl models are triangles. Stl models require a different set of tools to move, measure, etc. The tools required to deal with .stl models don't compare to the powerful tools you get when you have a solid model in a true solid modeling assembly environment. Up till now the only CADCAM system that I'm aware of that can update solid model based on what you have machined is Pro/E - Pro/ NC and from what I'm told it doesn't work that well.

In this video you will see that TopSolid CADCAM is able to automatically update a solid stock model. This video gives you a sneak peak into some of the things you can do when you can use a stl model to update a solid stock model. Much more is possible and I hope to have videos up soon that show how being able to update a  solid stock model opens a world of new opportunities that will save time through automation.

It should be noted that this technology only works on prismatic solid models and doesn't work on surfaced models.




Work Coordinate Systems:

TopSolid allows you to automatically create Work Coordinate Systems if you tell it to do so. You can then easily modify them or delete them: This saves a good deal of time over being forced to create all your Work Coordinate Systems from scratch. 

After you have TopSolid create Work Coordinate Systems for you automatically whenever you select a face the needed Works Coordinate System to machine that face will automatically be activated.

Chaining:

Almost never needed in TopSolid for 2 1/2 mill and 2 axis lathe. Same with 4 axis mill positioning. Pick one face and that's it because TopSolid is doing what other CAM systems can't and don't do... they constantly keep track of the stock model for every single machining operation and they make full use of the solid part model as well. No other CAM program even comes close in this area that I'm aware of. Instead of a CAM system that's dumber than a box or rocks what you get is a very smart and very powerful CADCAM system that will blow you away if all you have ever used is legacy CAM programs like Mastercam, Surfcam, Gibbscam, etc. Even fully integrated CAM systems that run inside of SolidWorks aren't even close to Missler TopSolid because they don't keep constant track of the stock model and they don't make full use of the solid so you still have to do tons of chaining. Missler TopSolid simply has no real competition in this area!

TopSolid CAM employs a concept that Missler calls Topological Analysis. The TopSolid CAM Topological Analysis engine studies one face of a solid geometrical model and deduces from it what type of machining operation can be applied. If several types of machining are possible, the Topological Analysis engine proposes all the possible solutions and lets the user to decide on the most appropriate cycle. TopSolid CAM carries out this analysis according to the state of the stock model. Using this method, TopSolid CAM will offer suggestions for the most appropriate machining method. TopSolid Cam constantly updates the model representing the stock model so that the subsequent machining operations take the correct stock model into account.




In the following screenshot you can see something that I've never seen a CAM system be able to do. You can graphically CTRL + Left click in the graphics area on the wireframe backplot of the toolpath and drag and drop the existing toolpath to an unmachined face of the part.


In this screen shot you can see how TopSolid CADCAM shows you what material still remains so you visually can tell what needs to be machined:



Finally the following screenshot shows the new path that TopSolid CADCAM automatically created when you dragged and droped the exiting toolpath on a new face that still had material left on it to machine. Notice how even though only one face was clicked TopSolid CADCAM knew to create the toolpath for both faces. TopSolid CADCAM can figure this out because it's constantly keeping track of the stock model and knows what hasn't been machined by comparing what has been machined to the stock model and the solid part. Notice also that no chaining was needed.


I don't know about you but I'm sick of wasting my time with creating tons of chaining of geometry for toolpath because the CAM system is so dumb that I have to tell it what it already should know and be able to figure out on its own. I'd like to see someone come up with a dollar amount that is wasted on a yearly basis for needless toolpath chaining like is done for CAD data translation.

Isn't it finally time for machining job shops to demand more efficient CADCAM systems that don't require so much manual toolpath chaining / needless input? Check this video out of what it's like to work with an intelligent CADCAM system rather than one that's dumber than a box of rocks:





Here is another video that shows what happens when you have powerful CAD and CAM fully integrated in one system where just one vendor makes both the CAD and the CAM.

When a CAM program isn't able to create it's own Assembly file inside the CAD system, (which is the case with all CAM programs that run inside of SolidWorks) you don't end up with anything even remotely close to the kind of powerful CADCAM integration that you see in the video below:








Many CAM programmers believe that high graphics quality for CAM aren't really important at all. Graphics in TopSolid CADCAM are world class and the following screen shots should prove to you that high quality, crystal clear graphics, can speed up the job of efficient toolpath creation and make part programming much less tedious and a lot more enjoyable. In following screen shot you can clearly see the stock surrounding the part:


Here is something else that's very handy. Select a tool from the TopSolid Tool Library and when you move your cursor into the graphics area you get a really nice graphic representation of the selected tool so you can visually see if you have enough stick out and enough flute length to machine what you want to machine:


Just as important is having a user interface that isn't modal. When I say modal I mean being forced to open and close dialog boxes constantly just to be able to move around and get common tasks done.

The following screen shot shows not only how TopSolid CADCAM gives you a wonderful wire frame graphical preview of exactly what your toolpath will be but how a popup balloon dialog appears that lets you quickly and easily change your most common machining parameters without ever having to open a dialog box!



If you are not happy with automatically created parts of the toolpath such as lead-in, lead out, etc. they can easily be modified. You don't have to accept any suggestion that TopSolid makes. You have full editing and override control.

Here is an example of  TopSolid offering up a suggestion for an open pocket and that may not be what you want:


The screen shot below shows just how easy it is to change the suggested open pocket toolpath to a facing toolpath using the popup balloon dialog with two clicks!




It is really this easy in TopSolid CADCAM 7! There is no chaining, there are no smoke and mirror tricks. This is what an fully integrated intelligent CADCAM system can do, rather than a dumb one that fights you every step of the way and makes you do the work that it should be doing.


When you need to make more extensive changes than the balloon popup dialog allows, such as changing from sweeping to successive contouring, your full machining parameter choices are easily available to you. In this case, because how the user interface has been setup, all the machining parameters choices are on the left hand side of the graphics area and can be seen in the following screen shot. I say in this case because TopSolid CADCAM 7 is completely customizable.





Simulation And Verification:

A standard feature available in TopSolid CAM is an advanced simulation module which allows you to assess, at any time, the quality of the toolpaths you are creating. This makes it possible to test different types of toolpaths, to check for collisions, if any, and to estimate the quantities of remaining material. You have several options available to you:

Conduct a simulation in programming mode:

In this mode, the part remains fixed, and the tools move around it. This mode is used to fine-tune the speed and quality of the paths being created.

Conduct a simulation in machine mode:

Simulation in this mode is very realistic, and corresponds exactly to what is going to happen on the machine tool. This mode is ideal to manage all inter-operation moves, any collision, the stroke of each of the axes, etc.

In order to reproduce reality even more closely, it is possible to simulate the removal of material in real time, and to optimize the cutting conditions according to the quantity of material actually removed.

5 Axis Programming: 

I've never done any 5 axis programming but it based on the following description and video it I feel I could learn it and use it! 


"In TopSolid'Cam 7 most 4/5 continuous axis operations are variants of 2D or 3D machining functions. Put simply this means that an operator can, for example, program an operation in 2 or 3 axis, transform it in 4 or 5 continuous axis and if he desires transform this back to the original 2 axis operation without redoing the entire operation. The choice of machining strategy is therefore greatly simplified.

In the video the operator programs a 3 axes iso-parametric operation, transforms it in 5 continuous axis and then switches back to the original 3 axis operation."




Missler Software,  the maker of TopSolid,  have a long time US master distributor in the US. He's a former machinist and moldmaker. His name is Bill Genc and he's the owner of Clear Cut Solutions based out of the Chicago, Illinois area.

Clear Cut Solutions US Master Distributor For TopSolid

With Bill's help I'm going to be trying to explain in detail all the areas that TopSolid CADCAM is far ahead of their legacy code CAD and CAM competition. This is going to require a lot of work because TopSolid is a very advanced and comprehensive product filled with brilliant ideas and technology to make a serious CADCAM users life much easier. On top of that their are actually two product lines from Missler. TopSolid 2011 which is TopSolid CADCAM V6 and TopSolid CADCAM 7.

One area I'd like to cover is TopSolid CADCAM 7's  use of both their own built in machine simulation and their outstanding use of the MachineWorks which is solid cut part verification software component that most other CAM companies license but don't make best use of. While TopSolid  doesn't verify actual G code it requires almost no time to setup Part and Machine verification in TopsSolid CADCAM 7 and this is going to be laid out and documented on both this blog and on Clear Cut Solutions blog linked above. In the mean time, here are some screen shots showing what's going to be documented for a multi part setup and just how much better the graphics are in TopSolid CADCAM 7. The first screen shot shows the CAD model and the second screen shot shows Part verification with the MachineWorks software component. Notice how crisp and clear the graphic are:





The screenshots below show  Missler's own Machine verification for TopSolid CADCAM 7. TopSolid Machine verification is not something you do after you are done creating toolpath but rather something that is created from the start that works with you as you go along creating toolpath allowing you to check as you go not when you are all done. This is true innovation rather than just copying what everyone else is doing or slapping in a software component that does Machine simulation at the end of the process.



In the next screen shot notice how you can actually see the transparent material being removed where the cutter is located:







The goal of this project suggested by yours truly and accepted and enhanced by Bill Genc of Clear Cut Solutions has been laid out in an outline done by Bill Genc and sent to me today:

Step 1 – New project & Import Data:

Step 2 – In-Place Assembly to define 3 stock conditions:

Step 3 – Fixture time!:

Step 4 – Prepare parts for machining:

Step 5 – Setup your machine:

Step 6 – Program the job:

Step 7 – Verify the job:

Step 8 – Machine simulation:

Step 9 – Post Process & Setup sheets:

1 comment:

  1. We are pleased to announce that the TopSolid 7 Revealed project is now under way. This project is what the steps above are talking about. Here are the first two posts thus far on the project. I will try to add the others here as they are released!

    TopSolid 7 Revealed! http://www.clear-cut.com/?p=640

    TopSolid 7 Revealed: Create New Project & import customer data
    http://www.clear-cut.com/?p=683

    More to come soon!

    ReplyDelete