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Delcam has launched the 2014 release of its Powermill CAM system for high-speed and five-axis machining, which includes the Vortex high-efficiency area clearance system.

Vortex has been developed by the company specifically to gain the maximum benefit from solid carbide tooling, in particular those designs that can give deeper cuts by using the full flute length as the cutting surface. 

It can be used for two- and three-axis roughing, three-plus-two-axis area clearance and for rest machining based on stock models or reference toolpaths.

Unlike other high-speed roughing techniques that aim to maintain a constant theoretical metal-removal rate, the Vortex system produces toolpaths with a controlled engagement angle for the complete operation. According to the company, this maintains the optimum cutting conditions for the entire toolpath that would normally be possible only for the straight-line moves. 

Vortex roughing gives a constant pitch, which shows that the tool is operating under consistent conditions. Furthermore, it is claimed that users will be able to see the difference in the regular size and thickness of the chips produced, providing further evidence of the consistency of the cut.

Key benefits

  • Vortex toolpaths are calculated to give more efficient machining by following the shape of the part and by keeping air moves to a minimum, which is particularly important for rest machining operations.
  • A series of trials run by Delcam on different machine tools has shown that a time saving of at least 40 per cent is not untypical, with the biggest percentage savings being found when cutting tool steel on a Huron machine with SGS Z-Carb MD cutters. The cycle time for the sample part was reduced from 121 minutes to 34 minutes: a reduction of 71 per cent.
  • Because Vortex toolpaths have a controlled engagement angle, tools should never be overloaded and so will achieve the maximum tool life. 
  • Shock loading caused by changes in the contact angle is minimised, preventing chipping of the flutes.
  • Due to the ability to use stepdowns of up to two or even three times, the tool diameter spreads the tool wear evenly over the cutting surface of the tool, contributing to longer tool life.
  • The stability of the cutting conditions gives more consistent edge temperatures, so prolonging the life of the tool coating and removing heat damage to the surface of the part.
  • The amount of material that can be removed with a single tool has been increased, while helping to maintain a more consistent removal rate by increasing the feed rate for the intermediate slices.

Delcam supplies software and services that help manufacturing companies to maximise their profitability by increasing productivity, improving quality and reducing lead times. The company is the world's largest specialist supplier of computer-aided machining software, with its PowerMILL, FeatureCAM, Partmaker and ArtCAM programs making up the most comprehensive range of CAM systems from any developer.

This broad selection allows Delcam to offer a CAM system capable of machining virtually any product, in any material on any type of equipment. Delcam also develops product design, tooling design and quality control programs. The unique Tribrid Modelling approach to design incorporates solid modelling, surface modelling and triangle modelling in a single program, enabling complete design and reverse engineering projects to be undertaken without transferring data between software.

Delcam's Powerinspect offers fast, reliable comparison of parts, prototypes and tooling against CAD data on all types of inspection equipment and even on machine tools. This versatility has made it the world's leading hardware-independent inspection software. Related programs are available for checking machine tool set-up and part location. Delcam software is used in over 80 countries worldwide by around 40,000 organisations, from large multi-nationals to small sub-contractors, in industries including aerospace, automotive, dental, engineering, footwear, medical and toolmaking.

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