Ok, so I hope that you are a meat and potatoes kind of person because in this post we will be covering the meat and potatoes of our big picture effort. In fact, we will cover every aspect of programming this job from building custom tooling to using stored favorite programming methods. This post will be big and it will cover a great deal. In fact we suggest you have a bathroom break and grab a fresh cup of coffee before you start reading this one!
Please note that this is a very large post. There are 20 videos in all spanning over 4 pages of content. You can browse to the next page at the bottom of each page. Be sure that you see them all!
What we’ve accomplished thus far
So far we have shown you step by step quite a few very cool and innovating features of TopSolid 7. Following are list of each of the main steps that we have documented in the TopSolid 7 Revealed project. If you haven’t checked them out yet, you really should. It will put everything you are about to read about and watch into perfect context.
And now, it’s time to program the job…
Creating our first tool path
When creating tool path in most cam software’s, you need to provide a few key pieces of information. They are:
Geometry to cut
Now, depending on the software that you are using, this is either easy to handle, or it’s not. The goal of the TopSolid 7 Revealed project is to show you that this can in fact be easy to handle.
There are many different ways to work in TopSolid 7. What it comes down to is picking a way that makes the most sense for you. Here’s what I mean. In TopSolid Cam 7, you can choose things in almost any order that makes sense to you. For example, you could start by selecting the face that you want to machine. Then you can select the strategy that you want to apply. From there you might choose a tool. And finally you might setup your operation and calculate it.
However, you could just as easily first choose the machining strategy, then setup your operation, then pick a tool, select your geometry last, and finally calculate everything. You see, the order isn’t so important. What is important is to supply the information. As I mentioned before you can choose how you want to work.
In this first tool path, I will be showing you how to create a facing operation. I will do so by:
First selecting the geometry to machine
Selecting the operation to apply (right mouse click menu)
Choosing a tool
Applying a pre-defined saved facing strategy
Now, as the goal of the TopSolid 7 Revealed project is to show and define for you the step-by-step procedure for this, let’s get started.
The selection of geometry to machine is commonly referred to as chaining in most Cam software’s. Chaining implies (at least to me), that you need to select a starting condition, sometimes a middle condition, and always an ending condition. Thankfully for TopSolid’Cam 7, our developers thought that this was way too much work to force on our end users. So they made it drastically simpler.
By making our software smarter, that’s how. And by smarter, I simply mean that TopSolid’Cam 7 actually uses the information of the solid model on which you are machining. And here’s the best part. Are you ready for it?
You almost never have to chain anything for 2D milling or turning!
Just left mouse button select the face that you want to create the tool path on.
Yes, it is that simple. Just select it and TopSolid’Cam 7 will do the rest. Believe it!
Choosing a machining operation
Sometimes the hardest part of programming, is knowing the right machining operation to apply. Often times this is difficult primarily because the software UI (User Interface) can get it the way. Again, our development team thought this didn’t make much sense either. So they made an interface that is not only 100% customizable by you, but is more importantly, not in your way. Here’s how.
In TopSolid’Cam 7, you can choose the operation to apply by going to the appropriate operation tab, and choosing the function that you want to apply by selecting its corresponding icon.
You can also go to the operation tab’s drop down menu and choose it from a list.
But you can also just right-mouse-click on the screen and choose is from the dynamic smart menu.
Some have asked me why we have so many ways to accomplish the same thing. The answer here is simple to understand. Everybody’s brain works a bit differently. What makes sense to one person could be total confusion for another. That said we have tried to develop TopSolid 7 so that anybody¬ can work with it.
Choosing a tool
The next step is tool selection. Here we wanted to keep going with keeping it simple. So we made TopSolid’Cam 7 operationally aware of the correct tools to use. For example, if you are going to profile the walls of a pocket, would it make sense for the software to allow you to choose a drill or tap? No. So what we did was automatically setup some basic filters so that your operators wouldn’t need to stumble through every type of tool to find the tool that is appropriate for the operation.
In this first example, we will be creating a facing tool path. That said we have chosen the operation type called End Milling. This operation type can create pocketing, facing, and open pocketing tool paths. However it is called End Milling because it implies you will be cutting with the bottom of the cutter. That said, when it is time to choose a tool, we only show you bottom cutting tools.
Now, once you choose the type of tool that you want to program with you have one of two choices to make. You can either look for a tool that exists in your library of tooling, or you can dynamically build a new tool. Following are some samples of each strategy.
Building a new tool
Building a new tool has honestly been made super simple thanks to a built in Tool Wizard. To create a new tool, all you need to do is double click on the type of tool that you want to build. From here, TopSolid’Cam 7 will launch the wizard that will walk you through the rest. Just fill in the information and hit the validation button and you’re done. Moreover, that tool has automatically been added to your library so that you can easily grab it again in the future.
Choose a tool from the library
Choosing a tool from the library is equally as easy. Just pick the tool category you want, and then click on the Tool Catalog icon. From there, just select the library tool that you want to use and hit the validation icon.
A close observer would notice that the library tool shown in the image to the left is quite detailed. That’s because TopSolid is a full featured Cad product too! And you can use it to design your tooling to be as accurate as you like! (Or you can cheat and download the models from the web too)!
Applying a pre-defined machining strategy
Applying a pre-defined machining strategy is as easy as 1-2-3. But first, what is a pre-defined machining strategy? A pre-defined machining strategy is a machining strategy that has been saved by the user to be reusable later on.
For example, let’s say that your company machines a lot of aluminum. Now let’s say that the very first thing your programmers program is a facing operation. Now you could have them spend a few minutes setting up the same operation over again that they have run on the past 100 jobs. Or you could set it up one time and just recall it and apply to each new job. There are many benefits to this style of programming. The biggest is consistency. If you programmers are programming facings the same way from job to job, what do you think that will do to predictability on tooling life?
Ok, enough of that. When you are ready to apply a machining strategy, just select the Favorites icon, select the favorite that you want to apply, and then validate the tool path! Yup…1, 2, 3….it is that easy.
Let’s see it in action
Ok, now that you understand some of the basics, let’s see it in action. The video below will show how quickly this first machining operation can be applied.