Leading supplier of differentiated consumable products to the resources and freight rail industries, Bradken, has recently integrated NX advanced CAM/CAD/CAE software from Product Lifecycle Management (Australasia) to its new Australian-made BDG 605 5-axis CNC, which it purchased from machine tools manufacturer BDG.
“The integration of the machinery with the software was seamless and easily accomplished,” says Mark Pivac, director of BDG. “NX advanced CAM/CAD/CAE software provides a fast, effective and accurate simulation of complex 5-axis toolpaths. “The combination of programming to the tool centrepoint, tool management and automated tool length presetting together with continuous head rotation greatly simplifies the task of generating effective and efficient 5-axis toolpaths.The CAD CAM systems and the CNC machines have to work well together, and simplifying every step leads
to great improvements in productivity. Although some options for both CAD CAM and 5 axis CNC machines seem expensive, the cost needs to be considered against the productivity advantage.
For example, adding the option of continuous rotary axes does not just speed up the cycle time of indexing the axes, it greatly simplifies some aspects of programming because the programmer no longer has to worry about adding safe retract moves prior to unwinding the axes or considers that a move may take the axis out of range. Adding the ability to program to the tool centre point means that tool lengths only need to be entered at the machine and this removes the possibility of having mistakes in the programming due to entering the wrong tool length in the CAM systems.
At the same time, it also removes the requirement to post process the CAM files again if the tool length is changed – e.g. after a tool sharpening or change. Realistic simulation of the program prior to running it on the machine is very beneficial. Even though the tool and toolholder are shown on screen during the toolpath creation, not all problems can be seen at this stage. The full NX simulations show any modelled parts of the machine, even down to the coolant lines. With complex 5-axis toolpaths this is a great confidence boost to know that the parts of the machine, such as the wrist or the back end of the spindle, are going to clear the workpiece when users are trying to machine in the deep valley of a complicated mould cavity.
“Limited training – CAD/CAM fundamentals and onsite consulting – has taken CNC programmers who had almost no knowledge in CNC programming, let alone NX, to the point where they can produce finished work effectively.”