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The right tool for the right job (part 2)

Dominic Benoit - Tuesday, January 26, 2016

In the first part of the article “The right tool for the right job”, I started illustrating one of the aspects where the drawing and the programming software reach each other. In the following, I’ll point out some other elements that belong to each application type.


Once opened in the Drafter application of act/cut, the drawing can be modified, corrected and rotated by the user in order to match the horizontal orientation of the part with the horizontal direction of the plate. It’s particularly useful for the parts with brushed finish or that will be cut in a plate with a pattern. If it contains doubled or overlapped lines those will be eliminated and if the endpoints are not connected, it will become apparent.



Fig. 3- act/cut shows a red X where the contour is not closed.


For a subcontracting company who receives all sorts of drawings, it is essential to be able to make the necessary corrections to ensure manufacturability of the parts and avoid returning the drawings to the sender to offer faster delivery. The tools are in place in the Drafter of act/cut to repair typical imperfections.


For a continuous cutting technology, act/cut will determine a cutting direction according to the machining operation (left or right kerf compensation). To achieve this, the external contour of the piece must form a continuous chain. Solid Edge meanwhile provides no indication of the direction of the profile chain. This information is required especially for the continuous cutting technology.


On a counterpart, the Solid Edge user can determine the orientation of the flat pattern when he uses the Flatten command. Solid Edge will output a clean geometry, without doubled or overlapped lines nor disconnected junctions.


After orienting the part in act/cut, the programmer can decide to authorize the part to be rotated in the nest to improve part placement or prevent it from rotating to respect the grain direction of the sheet.



Fig. 4- Nesting authorization settings in act/cut.


For better cutting finish, some machine can adjust their speed based on the size of the contour to cut (diameter or perimeter), it means that each contour within a part will be using different cutting parameters. For that reason, the act/cut user must use auto-tool allocation to apply proper parameter to each contour.



Fig. 5- The colors indicate that act/cut recognized the machining parameters according to the size of the contours.


After the parts are all prepared, they will be regrouped per material/thickness in a Launching order in which one can specify the quantity of each part to produce and also the selection of sheet size available to nest. Following this, the optimal toolpath is generated and the nc program is being written for the complete nest.


As you may notice, whether in the drawing or in the programming software, a lot of tools exist to ensure a good integration of the various platforms with each their speciality. Should you be a manufacturer with your own cutting machine or you outsource the task, being aware of the parameters and the needs of each other’s platform will help streamline the exchange process.


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