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The latest release of Alphacam, from Vero Software, continues to intuitively automate key CAD/CAM operations, improving manufacturing productivity and efficiency.

The Automation Manager includes enhancements to simplify workflow, including Multi-drill control, new Styles functionality, and further support for additional CAD file formats.

The introduction of Automation Manager Plus across all levels of Alphacam allows advanced automation to support the processing of Constrained Drawings and Parametric Sketches, and Part Grain Direction through sheet Grain Direction and Alignment Vector options. It also includes the Cabinet Door Manufacture (CDM) module.

Alphacam 2017 R2 also sees the first release of its integration with robot simulation software, meaning that output toolpaths generated within Alphacam can be passed directly to RoboDK’s Offline Programming (OLP) to simulate robot kinematics, along with a range of applications and activities such as robot milling. RoboDK then outputs the OLP to the robot controller.

As part of the Vero Customer Experience Improvement Program, Alphacam integrates Microsoft Analytics to gather software usage statistics. A new Reverse Cut Direction option has been added to Rough/Finish and Stone Cut Shape, creating toolpaths in the opposite direction to the tool direction on the geometry. Alphacam Brand Manager Simon Mathias says this is particularly useful when creating multiple passes around a shape which need to go in alternate directions, such as polishing and sanding profiled edges.

For Stone, Simon Mathias says cutting surfaces and solids with a disk has been made easier, as the user no longer has to create the work plane before starting. “The work plane can be created dynamically with on-screen feedback. Tabbed style dialogs have been introduced, and all strategies have Extents visualization of the area to be cut with dynamic cut directions and start positions.”

The Stone module now includes support for automatic detection of unsawn areas of the selected parts, and the option to add a Water Jet Cut Path operation, with two new tabs added to the sawing Dialog for the Water Jet Cut Parameters and its Lead In/Out settings.

“This is an essential addition to support the many combination Saw and Jet machines in the market,” says Simon Mathias.

Sawing has been enhanced by controlling how the foul avoidance is applied. It can be applied to None or All of the selected machining geometries. Alternatively, a separate selection can be made for the avoidance geometries. Foul avoidance geometries appear in a new branch of the Operation tree, where geometries can be added or removed, and the selection remade.

In Alphacam’s powerful nesting function, offcuts generated from nested sheets are now written to the new Sheet Database. Sheets may have been created from the database or just-as-drawn in the active drawing. The offcut will be created under the correct sheet, matching the material and thickness, which can be viewed as Attributes on the sheet.

The new release also continues Alphacam’s theme of improving user experience by updating many Dialog boxes, including Profiling, 3D Machining, Lathe Turning Cycles and Stone, providing a more intuitive and consistent approach across the modules, to include new Images, Tooltips and Help Links.Lathe Turning Cycles benefit from these new style dialogs for Facing, Diameter Roughing, Face Roughing, Contour Roughing and Twin Turret Balance Roughing – again, to include new Images, Tooltips and Help Links.

Support for 4K monitors has been improved with the addition of Scaling Options, to make the icons larger for higher 4K dpi settings – accessed from the Appearance section in the Ribbon Bar Configuration.

The Input CAD Extensions add-in now supports all imported file types. “And the dialog will only be displayed if the CAD file imported something that can be processed – for example, at least one instance of geometry, text or spline. Otherwise the dialog won’t be shown.”

There is also a new tool which he says is useful for tidying up imported geometry from CAD formats such as DXF and DWG, where the designer may have created several overlaying entities which are used in design, but are not required for manufacturing via CNC. “This is the Common Line Removal option which has been added to the dialog, enabling it to run automatically on CAD import. It will be particularly valuable when batch processing CAD data through Automation Manager.”

In conclusion Simon Mathias says: “The automation enhancements in Alphacam 2017 R2 assist manufacturers to improve productivity and profitability by speeding up their manufacturing processes.”


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