As part of Hexagon’s philosophy of supporting data-driven smart factories, the latest release of ALPHACAM CAD/CAM software speeds up how jobs that require several processes are managed.

A new job type has been introduced in ALPHACAM 2020.1. The new “Multiple Process Jobs” functionality makes it simpler to create jobs and orders in the ALPHACAM Automation Manager for jobs that need to be output to more than one machine, or that require secondary processing at the same machine.

“In the past, users had to create multiple jobs to process complex operations in Automation Manager,” said Product Manager Chip Martin. “Now, a single job can be created, containing all the different machines and manufacturing processes that the part goes through.”

He highlights an example of machining the top and back of a part. In the latest version of the software, those two processes can easily be worked as a single job. “NC code will simply be created for both of them automatically, which is also the case for additional machines and other processes.”

This improvement streamlines how complex manufacturing processes are handled in the ALPHACAM Automation Manager. “Once the process is defined, and the ‘Multiple Process Job’ is created, the operator can easily repeat the same complex job many times for different parts. Also, the user interface will help show exactly which processes and machines the part will go through.”

Several enhancements have been made to Automation Manager’s output file options. Firstly, the new ‘File Name Configuration’ dialog creates names from job information, job files, or any custom text. 

Secondly, a number of improvements to Report Creation include the ability to generate up to four different layouts, which can also be printed. All the materials being used can be included in one report, and a report can be produced for each material and each nested sheet.

“This fine-tune control means users can tailor Automation Manager output entirely to their specific requirements.” 

The Rough/Finish of solid faces with Tool Side function now supports cylindrical faces to be machined. Planar and cylindrical faces can be combined in a single selection. For solid faces that are perpendicular or undercuts, an active work plane can be used to define the preferred approach angle (scanning direction).

“In the previous release, we introduced the ability to machine solid faces directly for rough/finish and sawing,” Martin said. “This has now been enhanced to allow simple planar faces to be machined without creating new geometry.”

Cylindrical faces as well as planar faces can now be selected, and ALPHACAM automatically finds the best angle for machining them. This calculation is carried out while keeping a fixed angle for the tool in a work plane, guaranteeing that most controllers will be able to support compensation (G41/G42), and Lead-In/Out generated by ALPHACAM.

“Before this improvement, users had to carry out several steps to machine a selection of faces using the tool side. Now, instead of creating workplanes and extracting geometries, they simply select the faces for machining and ALPHACAM calculates the required tool angle and workplane to machine a selection of faces. This is a real time saver.”

Stone companies will find specific improvements for waterjet cutting, and for sawing surfaces and solids. ALPHACAM 2020.1 includes a waterjet tool as well as new machining cycles. Users can now create waterjet tools and specify parameters specific to waterjet cutting. Abrasive Flow Rates can be defined in the new tool type, as well as how far the nozzle should be from the top of the material.

In addition to the existing machining cycles, the latest release introduces three waterjet operations which can follow a profile, clear areas, or cut and pierce holes, in both 3- and 5-axis machining. A simulation can be run to check for possible collisions between the nozzle and material.

“The software has been successfully driving waterjet and saw + waterjet machine tools for many years,” Martin said, “but this new waterjet tool and cycles provide a consistent and highly professional way of calculating toolpaths.”

The new release now defines boundaries when cutting surfaces and solids with a disc/saw. Users define multiple boundaries, and ALPHACAM will avoid machining those areas. “This gives much better control, making it possible to avoid areas which should be machined in another step, and even avoid other machine components.”