A Quick X7 Course for Composites Manufacturers

Composites engineers and manufacturing supervisors rarely have time to get everything they would like to get done accomplished. That is why it is so easy to put off taking a little time to review, understand, and implement some of the new capabilities that arrive in the latest version of their CAM software.

If you fall into this category, we’ve put together a quick review of four new features of Mastercam X7 that should be of particular interest:

Oscillate 5-Axis Toolpath for Trimming: One of the biggest impediments to date in creating efficient 5-axis trimming toolpaths is the problem of tool wear. CRFM and other composite structures can be very hard and abrasive. What’s more, trimming requires the tool to travel continuously along a narrow edge, not only wearing the tool, but also creating a groove in it. A new 5-axis toolpath developed specifically for edge trimming continually oscillates the tool as it moves along the edge. This action spreads wear over a long section of the flute so that the tool wears gradually and the problem of grooving is eliminated. With this approach offsets are far more accurate and tools can last up to ten times longer, eliminating frequent tool changes and excessive tool costs.

Safe-Link for Even Safer Transitions: To insure that the tool can make a rapid move without crashing into the part, it is possible to set a safety zone that allows the tool to safely retract to the shortest safe distance before moving to the next location for engagement. Safety zones, however, do not prevent all potential crashes during these transitions. It is also possible to crash the tool on fixtures and other implements outside the safety zone envelope. A new Safe Link option presents an alternative to this loose transitioning, allowing the user to specify a controlled move that travels almost as quickly as a rapid move, but in a straight line.

Trim-To-Stock Trims Air Cutting: Toolpaths frequently assume that shapes will be cut from a block of material. When that block is not there at the outset, the part only needs to be trimmed; there is a significant amount of cutting action that happens in empty space before the tool actually enters the material. Mastercam’s “trim-to-stock” option allows the user to create a stock model in CAM so that the cutter will adhere to it and eliminate most of the air cutting. Field trials conducted using Mastercam’s Trim To Stock feature confirm that this option can save time. On a small part, trimming time went from 12 to 5.5 minutes. (This may or may not be significant to the manufacturer. It depends on how many parts are in the queue for trimming.) In another instance trimming went from 300 hours to just under 90.

New Tool Manager— more granular and accessible: Mastercam’s Tool Manager gives users the capability to manage all of the tools that might be used for various projects allowing them to:

  • incorporate many tool databases supplied by tool manufacturers
  • update databases as tool specifications change
  • virtually construct assemblies incorporating specific tools, holders and “stick out” dimensions
  • create libraries for specific applications, machines or groups of machines

While this functionality is a very important adjunct to efficient CAM operations, there is no reason it should tie up a CAM seat to use it. To this end, the most recent version of Mastercam (X7) makes its Tool Manager available as a stand-alone module that can be used independently from a CAM seat (right at the tool crib, for example).

Of course, there is so much more in Mastercam X7 that could help you solve specific composites manufacturing problems or capitalize on emerging opportunities. Mastercam resellers are experts at helping their customers use our software for all its worth. Make them part of your CAM initiative for improving productivity and profitability. Find and contact your local Mastercam Reseller today!

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