Before I discuss this amazing new offering, I want to explain what led us to this new product. As some of you may already know, I started in this industry as a NC programmer, over 30 years ago. I learned to do CAM on a package called Weber, and then the company, that I was working for, turned AutoCAD into a custom 2D CAM package, using LISP. In 1996, I started using my first 3D CAM package, EMS from Intergraph. In 1997, it was purchased by Unigraphics, and shortly thereafter I started using UG v13, which eventually became NX. Since then I have also worked with GibbsCAM, and CAMWorks for Solid Edge, to name a few. Why the history lesson? I feel that it is important to understand the context of what I’m about to discuss.
All the CAM products I have used, machine in what I call a traditional CAM approach. That is to say the programmer/operator defines everything in the tool path. He/she selects the tool, feeds and speeds, cutter step over, depth of cut, cut pattern, cut strategy, and so on. To be fair, some packages take all this input and perform cleaner more efficient tool paths. However, the overall process of operator input and control has always been the same.Through the years there have been continuous upgrades and improvements, with the focus being on the improved programmer/operator control.
Recently, I was introduced to iMachining for NX, by a colleague of mine. And in my opinion, iMachining is as revolutionary to the Cam world, as Synchronous Technology is to the CAD world. iMachining for NX, combines limited user input, and geometry, with information about the tool, stock material, and the Machine. This is run through its patented Technology Wizard to produce fast and safe CNC programs. “The word fast meaning significantly faster than traditional machining at its best and the word safe meaning without the risk of breaking tools or subjecting the machine to excessive wear, all while maximizing tool life.” Users no longer have to input feed or speed of the cutting tool. Nor do they need to have to worry about step-overs or cut depths. These are all calculated by the system to ensure optimal material removal rate, while extending the cutting tool life.
Along with the Technology Wizard, iMachining generates morphing spiral tool paths, allowing a single continuous spiral cut of irregular shapes. When necessary, iMachining uses proprietary constant load one-way tool paths to machine narrow passages, separating channels and tight corners.
With this new approach, iMachining can deliver some amazing results for you and your company. How amazing?
These are indeed some amazing claims, but I wanted to know if they were true. So, I put it to the test, using an existing part that I had. This part had a complicated 3D pocket with several islands and a non-planer bottom. I used Cavity Mill to rough out the pocket with a 1” Coated HSS end mill, and a 3/8” Coated HSS end mill. The material was H13 Tool steel and I used feeds and speeds comparable to this type of cut. The total cut time for these 2 tools was 10 hrs. and 45 mins.
Using iMachining 3D, the Technology Wizard calculated feeds and speeds, depth of cut and step overs for me. The total cut time was 4 hrs. and 18 mins. A savings of 6 hrs. and 27 mins of machine time.
Now using different tools, I could have reduced the cut times in both systems. But what’s important here is the comparison between the cut times, using the same tools. I also used a relatively safe, default setting for the iMachining tool paths. Now, I did not see the 70 %-time savings in this example, but still an impressive time savings of 60%. It’s also important to note that, at the time of writing this article, I had not had any formal training in iMachining for NX. I based my testing on documentation that came with the software.
Having verified a significant time savings, is just the first step. There was less user input required and smoother tool paths were generated. The image below shows the tool paths generated, for the 2 cutters, using iMachining for NX. Notice the smooth tangent paths.
Compare these to the following images of the Cavity Mill tool paths. Notice the sharp corners and sudden directional changes, which will add more stress to the cutters, shortening the tool life.
Of course, you can’t rely on one test to judge anything. So, I have included the following examples from the iMachining documentation.
As you can see, the results are truly impressive. This is an add-on to NX, but the return on investment is exceptional. Imagine how much you could save with significantly reduced machine time, plus your tools will last longer. As your Value-Added Reseller, we see the value that this product brings to NX. It makes a great product even better, but more importantly, it will save you time and money.
By the time this article is posted, our team will be ready to demo this product, to our customers and prospects. You can view the iMachining for NX brochure by clicking on this link (iMachining for NX). If you would like to arrange for a demo of this product, you can contact your Account Manager, or call us at 1-888-567-3933.