The latest release is the largest ever delivered by the Alphacam development team and a release it is very proud of. The focus has been on helping manufacturers drive down costs, by speeding up the design and production processes and improving efficiency, productivity and profitability.
A new advanced five-axis machining module is introduced in Alphacam 2015 R1, which includes a comprehensive set of strategies with advanced tool axis control and intelligent collision avoidance, to quickly and accurately machine surface and solid models.
Alphacam general manager Nick Spurrett says: “Incorporating the Moduleworks technology into Alphacam shows our commitment to the complex Advanced five axis market.
“The new toolpaths can also be analysed against the machine tool constraints using Alphacam’s five-axis independent toolpath optimiser.”
He says a new ribbon bar interface brings Alphacam 2015 R1 right up to date as far as interface technology exists while the new interface enables users to quickly find the commands they need, as they are arranged in logical groups, assembled together under tabs.
“Each tab relates to a type of activity, such as creating geometry, or machining,” he says. “Clear icons and text labels ensure that commands are easily recognisable and accessible.”
The Quick Access Toolbar can be displayed above or below the ribbon bar and includes the most commonly used commands, such as Open and Save. Users can customise the ribbon bar by adding their own favourites. “We have 50 new icons in Alphacam, because ribbons have replaced menus,” says Nick.
All Alphacam modules, including Alphaedit, have the new ribbon GUI.
Also new in 2015 R1 are aggregate tool holders. “They are a welcome addition in the new release,” he explains, “enabling users to define them with geometry extrusions and rotations, STL and solid CAD models. Users can now create a library of toolholders. These toolholders, or aggregates, can either be extruded, evolved geometry or solids. Common applications of aggregates are horizontal routing and drilling. C-axis aggregates are also supported in Alphacam simulation.”
Significant updates to the Project Manager give it a more contemporary look, including specific icons for each Operation type. And the new look File menu now includes a Recent Files page listing Alphacam and CAD parts files, displaying a preview image and their properties.
Multi drill heads now have graphical support – as with the aggregates, they can be defined using geometry extrusions and rotations, STL and solid CAD models. Tools are loaded and selected in Project Manager and fully simulated.
Using the View Comparison function compares the part with the machining operations. “This means manufacturers can see whether there is any stock left, and allows them to select an alternative or extra machining operation,” says Nick Spurrett.
Finally, the ability to import files from Google Sketchup adds to the extensive list of third-party file formats which Alphacam supports.