Save Valuable Production Time and Expensive Machine Tools

The staff at Manufacturing Engineering interviewed our senior market analyst, Ben Mund, for an article featured in their October 2018 issue entitled, “When it Comes to Simulation Software, Seeing is Believing.” In the article, Ben recommends that companies should invest additional money in toolpath simulation software as insurance in proving out their NC programs—and for very good reasons.

“Most CAM systems today offer some level of toolpath simulation that is perfectly acceptable for the majority of machining applications,” Ben shared. He went on to explain the difference between the capabilities of most CAM systems today and dedicated simulation software. Generally, CAM packages do not read the actual post-processed G-code used by the machine tool, whereas a standalone toolpath simulation component provides an added layer of security for extremely high-value jobs and complex machining applications. “It’s like taking out an insurance policy.”

Previously, CAD and CAM were two separate products, however, Ben explained that there has been a gradual development with the convergence of CAD and CAM, where CAM is becoming very CAD-like, and vice-versa. CAM software is becoming capable to simulate more of the machining process, with Mastercam and others offering depictions of the entire machining environment, including the workholding, toolholders, and even the CNC itself.

“Many shops no longer need a standalone CAD system, because their CAM package does everything they need it to,” he said. Similar to machine and toolpath simulation software, CAM may not offer the same depth of verification, but it does the job and is constantly progressing—with the simulation software, it’s an extra layer of security.

In a nutshell, the key difference between standalone and integrated simulation software is the ability to read the code. This alone could be the key in saving valuable production time and expensive machine tools by using toolpath simulation software to prove out NC programs.

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