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Delcam has launched the 2011 version of its feature-based CAM system that is designed to provide automated machining and minimise programming times for parts on mills, lathes and wire EDM.

Featurecam 2011 incorporates support for 64-bit computers, improved data exchange from a wider range of design software, the ability to use stock models and new strategies across the complete program, from turning to five-axis machining.

The program also features a more modern interface to simplify programming.

As the first release to support 64-bit hardware, Featurecam 2011 will be faster than any previous version.

This 64-bit technology removes the memory limitations of 32-bit computers, allowing more efficient toolpath generation, especially for companies machining large or complex parts.

User productivity has also been increased by extending the use of the latest multi-threading technologies available in recent hardware.

In addition, improved memory management within the software further reduces calculation times, with the greatest benefits again coming when programming larger or more complex components.

The improved data exchange has been achieved by enabling Delcam’s Exchange software to be used as an additional import mechanism so that all the formats supported by Exchange can be imported into Featurecam.

These include direct translations from systems such as Catia V5, Siemens NX and Solid Edge, Pro/Engineer, Autocad Inventor, Solidworks and Rhino, as well as support for standard formats such as Parasolid, ACIS, IGES and Step.

Support for the use of stock models is being added progressively, starting with Z-level roughing operations.

The software eliminates air cutting more easily than other methods, saving programming time, and generates more efficient toolpaths to reduce machining times.

The main enhancement for turning is the addition of a new style of finishing that uses separate passes to cut the faces and the diameters of the component.

This approach gives a better surface finish, improved tool life and more efficient clearance of the chips generated during the first pass over the part, according to Delcam.

Fully automated de-burring and chamfering is now available when programming 2- or 2.5-axis parts.

The ability to incorporate chamfers, even when they were not shown in the original CAD model, was added in Featurecam 2010.

The automation of this option will allow faster programming of these finishing operations.

Another two-axis enhancement is the ability to machine parts larger than the travel of the machine tool.

If the machine has a table that can index around the Z axis, Featurecam can divide the component into pieces and generate the required series of machining operations.

Finish machining of flat areas has been made more efficient with improved detection of these surfaces.

Featurecam will then automatically add the appropriate extra Z-level into the toolpath to give accurate finishing.

This option will be most beneficial when machining a series of pockets with flat bottoms at different heights.

Over recent releases, the milling capabilities within Featurecam have been enhanced through the incorporation of strategies from Delcam’s Powermill system for high-speed and five-axis machining.

This has continued in the 2011 version with the incorporation of Delcam’s Race Line Machining strategy into Featurecam.

With this approach to offset machining, the roughing passes are smoothed out progressively as the toolpaths move further from the main form.

For five-axis machining, more options have been added to the collision avoidance functionality.

These give the user more control over the movements chosen by the software to avoid potential problems and so will help to reduce sudden changes in direction.

Featurecam 2011 also includes improvements in the more fundamental process of five-axis drilling, with options to program and edit five-axis hole creation, even when the items are supplied as simple circles in space rather than fully defined solids.

Programming of wire EDM has also been improved with the ability to work directly from solid models in a similar way to Featurecam’s milling, turning and drilling options.

In addition, an automatic ordering command is designed to make it easier to combine operations needed to produce different features, while improved control over retract moves will simplify the programming of four-axis wire EDM equipment.

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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