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Delcam will demonstrate machining with robots using the Powermill Robot Interface at Advanced Engineering, which is due to be held at the NEC in Birmingham on 12–13 November. The Powermill Robot Interface can be used for the programming of robots for a variety of multi-axis machining operations, including pattern making, model making, the trimming and drilling of composite components and the deburring and polishing of metal parts. 

The Powermill Robot Interface replaces the earlier VB application that was developed for robot machining, which has been completely rewritten and fully embedded inside Powermill as a plug-in. This approach is said to make it as easy to program a robot for machining as it is to program a five-axis machine tool.

With the Robot Interface being a fully associated application inside Powermill, users have access to all the multi-axis machining strategies within Powermill and can use all the software’s project management options to manage, store and retrieve data.

The Powermill Robot Interface is intended to help users to get the most out of any robot type in the shortest possible time. Its simplified workflow makes it easy to program, simulate, review and refine toolpaths, while enabling the robots to achieve levels of accuracy similar to many CNC milling machines when cutting softer materials.

Key functionality

  • The core functionality of the Powermill Robot Interface consists of three main steps: programming; simulation (including analysis); and creation of robot programs.
  • Robots can be programmed for tool-to-part applications, making them particularly suitable for machining large parts, such as composite panels that need to be trimmed, or for part-to-tool applications, such as grinding or linishing.
  • The working area can be extended with linear tracks and rotary tables for even greater flexibility over the size and types of parts that can be manufactured.
  • The Powermill Robot Interface can then be used to simulate the complete machining operation and to control the robot’s movements through variables such as axis limits, axis priorities and workplane constraints.
  • Various aspects within the configuration of the robot cell, such as axis limits, tool constraints and home position, can be defined, and the simulation of the robot completed within those constraints.
  • The robot’s working envelope can be displayed to optimise the position of the part or initial stock, giving maximum access to the material. The maximum range of movements required of each axis can be viewed to analyse the robot’s behaviour and movements throughout the operation.
  • Any issues that may prevent the toolpaths from being completed successfully are highlighted, with notifications of the robot potentially reaching axis limits, singularities and collisions.
  • Graphs display the axis limits, wrist singularity and axis reversals to give a better understanding of how the robot will move. Similarly, the acceleration and deceleration of the robot’s axes are shown on time-based graphs.
  • Once the results of the simulation have been reviewed, and modified if necessary, the program can be output in the appropriate robot native language, for example for KUKA, ABB, Fanuc, Yaskawa Motoman or Stäubli equipment, eliminating any need for third-party translation software.
  • Acceleration, smoothing values and other robot-specific parameters can be defined as part of the output.
  • Full support for external axes, such as rotary tables and linear tracks, can be included, as well as dedicated tools for spindle calibration.

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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