SmartCAM

SmartCAM

November 5, 2018

M99


Welcome back once again to the SmartCAMcnc blog 😃


M99?

I think I may have been too clever for my own good there.

As I sat here trying to come up with novel title for this blog post - as is my way - , it occurred to me that we kind of reached the end of another month, a 'subroutine' in our development cycle, culminating in the release of SmartCAM Version 2019.

I did consider naming it M30, but that has an entirely different connotation that we have reached the end of the program. Which we haven't.


I also thought about using G80. But the common definition of that is 'cycle cancel'. Which we haven't. We completed that cycle, we didn't cancel it. Which is what actually happens on your CNC after all. It is close. Maybe G80 would have been good.

No? Ahem. Let's move on before I dig myself even deeper into that hole and get myself into trouble with The Management.





As those that know us have come to know, we are in the habit of providing an overview of a new release on our website, which you can view here

But here is a fast run-through of What’s New:



New: Adaptive Solid Processes
The benefits of Adaptive Rouging Toolpaths are firmly established, having been added to SmartCAM in a previous release.



Those Toolpath Modeling functions were wireframe-based. Version 2019 adds Solid Model-based Adaptive Toolpath functionality: a CAD solid model can be analyzed for the regions to be Toolpathed and Adaptive Toolpaths automatically applied to those regions.

Two new Adaptive Solid Processes are available, Adaptive Solid Pocket Roughing and Adaptive Solid Planar Roughing.

We won't provide detailed information about or attempt to demo those functions here, but you can see Adaptive Solid Pocket Roughing being applied in this short video:






Adaptive Solid Roughing is the predominant toolpath technology addition for SmartCAM Version 2019, but there are a number of detailed additions and changes that we know existing users in particular are going to appreciate. And understand; some of them will be lost, we think, on anybody that does not yet know SmartCAM concepts and methodology.

Rattling through them and other changes and additions quickly, they are:



Adaptive Process Tool End Radius
All of the Adaptive Toolpath Processes now support the difference between a regular, cylindrical cutting tool and bull- or ball-mills. The result is, of course, ‘tighter’ toolpath due to that tool end radius.





Mill Roughing Compute Times
All of the Mill Roughing Processes benefit from improved performance / faster results due to identifying when identical cut patterns are generated at multiple depths of cut.






Spiral Hole Leads and Comp Codes
The Spiral Hole Toolpath Modeling Process has been enhanced to now support Line, Arc, and Line / Arc leads, and tool radius compensation can now be applied within the Process.







The User Interface: Toolbars
The User Interface had a lot of development attention and benefits from a more modern appearance and general ‘freshen up’. We really like it.

The primary enhancements have been:
-      Optionally associate text with icons on a toolbar
-     Better and easier control of Toolbar configuration
-   A new Toolbar ‘set’ capability can be used to store user-preferred toolbar arrangements
-      Each Toolbar can now be sized independently of the others. Small beer, it would seem, but we love that particular one ourselves.





Gradient Graphics Background
We didn’t appreciate just how effective that could be before now. A Gradient background can be configured or turned off according to user preference.









Zoom to Active Group
The Active Group is one of the cornerstone concepts in SmartCAM usage. We bet that if we’d asked our customers ‘would you like to be able to zoom to the extent of the Active Group?’, 99.9% or more would have said yes.

And now you can.





Code Generation. For those that don’t know us, Code Generation is the term used by the SmartCAM community for what are commonly called Post Processors in other systems. There’s a little more of the SmartCAM Difference for you right there.

The SmartCAM Code Generator Tookit is possibly the most open and flexible in the CAM world. Version 2019 delivers a small number of code generator enhancements, which will again be a little meaningless to those who do not yet know anything about our technology. But being a techie sort of guy, one who such things excite ( how sad is that? )  I’m going to run through them anyway. It’s hard to come up with an image for these things, I’ve not even bothered to try.


Solid @OP_HOLEwMILLOP
Now how techie is that, eh? This stuff is SmartCAM Code Generator-specific.

OK, so it was a little tricky to handle CNC code for a hole being toolpathed with other than a Hole Operation. A  new CGT Section more easily enables the processing of Hole Toolpaths where the current operation is a Milling rather than a Hole Making operation type.


Code Generator / Macro Parsing
This one is buried deep within the Code Generator / Custom Toolkit functionality. Our users who have ‘been there’ with various customization projects will really appreciate the fact that macro variables can be parsed from the CG to the macros.

Customization might, for example ‘do something’, call Code Generation and then ‘do something more’ after Code Generation is complete and has parsed information back to the macro system.


Code Generator 'Function' Section
This one ‘lights my fire’, I have to tell you. A new section behaviour has been added to the Code Generator mechanism which enables Code Generator creators to create their own specific ‘functions’ within their Code Generator.

The primary goal of this work has been to enhance the ‘readability’ of Code Generator Template files, but it does empower the creator with so many technical possibilities, some of which we haven’t yet imagined.

I personally have a view of the SmartCAM Code Generator and Customization Toolkit, that what can be achieved is really only limited by the imagination. So much is possible with that stuff, we have been privy to some remarkable projects by our customers.




There are a number of miscellaneous changes and additions summarized on our website, but there we have it: some of the result of the 'subroutines' we ran during development of our favorite CAM system. Now we're into the next program cycle of exciting development work for SmartCAM Version 2020.


I really must get back to my proper job. I hope I helped with a little comprehension of another great release of SmartCAM.


Take care.
Have a great day / evening / weekend. Morning, even.

Talk CAM with us. We're at:
+1 (541) 344-4563
sales@smartcamcnc.com




June 6, 2018

Deep Joy


First, I’d like to acknowledge Mr. or “Professor” Stanley Unwin as the inspiration for the thought of a title for this brief technical item.

Stanley Unwin was a remarkable British ( but South African-born ) comedian who had a long showbusiness career ( yet to call him a comedian seriously undermines his talent ).

If you’ve not experienced his unique work then do look up the video clips that are out there on the ‘net. I think you’ll be impressed and enthralled J


So, why ‘Deep Joy’?
Part of my week has been spent working on macro code for a particular SmartCAM requirement. Allow me to provide some background.


I’m an engineer, a sort of a Production / Mechanical hybrid, really. I once overheard a remark by a software professional, a proper computer scientist, as it were, of an engineer who had successfully followed a career in software development and business management. And highly talented he was, too ( both of them were, in fact, the engineer and the developer ).


The developer claimed that the engineer ‘wrote code like an engineer’. I kind of knew immediately what he might have meant by that.


Throughout my CAM career I have had the good fortune – because it is a part of this job that I like doing - to have the need and to be capable of creating bits and pieces of software for this-or-that purpose or repetitive task using various programming languages.


I consider myself to be a capable software writer. For an engineer, that is.


I always try my best to create structured, elegant code. Neat, compact and efficient code is almost a work of art and is to be admired. Or at least it is that to me, anyhow. But that’s another topic for another day. My professional development colleagues could, I’m sure, provide much interesting comment and input on how to structure program source code.


I’m not asking for that, nor am I asking for anybody to comment on my code style. I daren’t J


My Deep Joy, lightbulb moment
hit me when I wanted to include macro code to check for an arc that ran from left to right and was in a counter clockwise direction or ran from right to left and was in a clockwise direction.

April 11, 2018

My little secret


Welcome once again to our blog

Let’s get straight to the heart of the matter:
I want to let you in on a little secret.

I am a Motorhead.

There, I’ve said it, it’s now public knowledge.

Many of the hours I’m not working with SmartCAM are spent on my classic cars or other projects.

You know, I have a hunch that many of my colleagues are also Motorheads. Just that they haven’t yet admitted as much. 


What has that to do with a blog site about SmartCAM CAM software, I hear you ask. But bear with me, we will get to that.


Sunbeam Rapier Gearbox

One of my recent projects was to strip down, check and re-assemble the gearbox of my ’62 Sunbeam Rapier. It had a really noisy ‘rattle’ in first gear.

I took some photos of my work in my dark garage. They're a little fuzzy but do the job.

The Gearbox Casing

Mainshaft, 3rd and 4th, plus selector rods
and a couple of synchro rings

January 10, 2018

Another great SmartCAM release hits the streets

Welcome back once again to the SmartCAMcnc blog J

Apologies, it’s been a while.

That’s entirely down to me,
I’ve been fully occupied with release material work.

That’s a subtle way of letting you know that a new release of our CNC programming software has recently become available, SmartCAM Version 2018.

As is our custom, an overview of the release content can be found on our website here

But here is a fast run-through of What’s New:


New: Adaptive Roughing Toolpaths

The benefits of Adaptive Rouging toolpaths are based upon impeccably robust logic:

Always-tangential toolpath and a Consistent Cut Volume mean that there are no shock loads due to corners or burying the cutter deep into stock.

User control over maximum widths of cut / the use of small widths of cut mean that small chips are produced, which are more easily and quickly removed from the cutter taking heat away with them.

Tool life is increased.

No shock loading and small widths of cut / chips mean that you can ramp up High Speed Milling speeds and feeds and can use deeper depths of cut, often using the maximum cutter flute length. Faster material removal results in reduced cycle times.





August 30, 2017

Could you tell me the time?



Hi! Welcome once again to our blog  J

Here’s an observation that I hope you will find interesting.

CAM Software CNC program estimated cycle times.

My use of an image of a mechanical stopwatch is no accident. Back in the day, when I started out as a CNC programmer - which is more years ago now than I care to mention and before the digital timer age - I felt really important but a little intimidated and embarrassed to go down to the machine shop with the stopwatch ( it belonged, of course, to the department ) to time the cycle on first prove-out of one of my well-crafted programs.

We had no means of accurately estimating the cycle time, and had to go and time it so that the job could be accurately booked.

I reckon that little has changed in all these years.


June 2, 2017

RIP, Lars Selen



It's with heavy hearts that we at SmartCAMcnc share the news that Lars Anton Selen passed away May 18, 2017, at age 82.

May 11, 2017

New Release: SmartCAM Version 2017

Welcome back to the SmartCAMcnc blog J

An especially warm welcome to our many highly-valued SmartCAM customers.

We are particularly pleased with ourselves today.
SmartCAM Version 2017 has hit the streets.

A brief overview of the release content can be found on our website,
starting here

That stuff was put together by our marketing types. But actually they’re OK, we’ll forgive them for being what they are; like all of us here at SmartCAMcnc, they have a sound knowledge of SmartCAM and of matters CAM & CNC.

We’d also like to present to you here a condensed summary of What’s New:


August 16, 2016

Old SmartCAM Versions

Hi Again from All here at SmartCAMcnc 

Good
Old
SmartCAM

This post is based upon observations from our daily experience:
not a day goes by without our being contacted by a customer who is running an old ( sometimes ancient ) version of SmartCAM CAM Software.

That’s great:
We’re impressed, every time.

It’s always a pleasure to be in touch with users of old versions of our software. We are simply amazed that our customer continues to use such an aged piece of software on what is often similarly-aged PC equipment.

We’re usually contacted because of failure of the old PC or the replacement of it. Those old versions simply weren’t intended to be run on later operating systems.

The prize for continuing to use the oldest version in my own experience - I work in International business – has been a SmartCAM Version 9 user. Version 9 was last supplied in late 1996!

But I bet that within the SmartCAM community there is an example of an even older system that was - still is - in daily use.


June 14, 2016

SmartCAM, Training and Me by Mr. Casey Baker.

A Warm Welcome back J

We have something a little different for you in this post; an autobiography by the latest hire at SmartCAMcnc, our trainer for our SmartCAM CAM Software, Mr. Casey Baker.

Casey has written up for you a short recollection of his career with SmartCAM


April 13, 2016

Your new SmartCAM Training Center

Hey! - Welcome back to our blog site J

You’ve come to the right place to learn about CNC programming with SmartCAM.

And so have our customers: we have opened an all-new training center within our Springfield HQ.

You’re maybe thinking: And what’s the big deal in that?
Those of you who don't already know us will need to read a little about the history of our business and our SmartCAM products in order to understand why we’re excited about our new training center.

Our marketing types have written a short summary for our website, SmartCAM Training

We’re a company of CAM professionals whose careers have largely been based around SmartCAM. Some of us have been involved with it since it first appeared on the market way back in the 1980s. We’re all 100% committed to our unique CAM solutions.


January 18, 2016

SmartCAM Version 2016 is now shipping

A Warm Welcome back to our blog site J

If you are into CNC and CAM Programming then you have found the right place.

Our latest news: we just wanted to let you know that we have begun shipping the latest release of our SmartCAM CAM system, Version 2016.

You can read about SmartCAM Version 2016 on our website …
We have created a summary of the significant additions and changes to this release on our website. Please do take a moment to read our material here

… But here is a condensed summary of What’s New:


September 3, 2015

Technical: SmartCAM Regions. Part 1

Hi, and another very warm welcome from all of us to all of you.

You’ve reached the SmartCAMcnc Blog. We created our blog to primarily inform about this-or-that aspect of our CAM software / CNC Programming software, but we also post other information that we hope you will find interesting and informative.

We intend to provide a mixture of information here on our blog that will be of interest to our valued existing customers and potential new SmartCAM users alike.

We just know that this post will be of interest to everyone who understands CAM. It has a technical bias, where I’d like to provide information to you about one of the most powerful yet possibly underused features of SmartCAM Milling applications:

SmartCAM Regions

Part 1

Rest Mill Regions
SmartCAM Region technology is applied in several use cases in SmartCAM. In this first part of our discussion about Regions we’ll focus on how they are used for Rest Milling functionality; creating regions of material left-over after roughing that can be used as inputs to a Region Roughing Process to generate rest milling toolpath using smaller diameter tooling. 


June 25, 2015

Our first blog, where we talk about ourselves.

Hi, and a Very Warm Welcome to our blog
You’ve reached the SmartCAMcnc Blog. We created our blog to primarily inform about this-or-that aspect of our CAM Software / CNC Programming software, but we also post other information that we hope you will find interesting and informative.

If you were looking for a webcam then you probably needed to go here

Otherwise, and if SmartCAM is new to you we would like to let you know a little bit about our company and our products.

We thought it would be a bright idea to apply the 5 W’s of What, Why, When, Where and Who + a How to do just that:

What we do
We create software that is used to generate programs for CNC machinery, known by the manufacturing communities as Computer-Aided-Manufacturing, or CAM software.
Our brand name is SmartCAM. We produce 7 applications products that provide you with CAM tools for milling, turning, wire EDM and fabrication programming needs.



Why do we do it?
It is generally said that Numerically-Controlled – NC - machinery began its evolution in the second half of the 1940’s, with the first NC machines being developed in the early 50’s. The later addition of the C as in CNC stands for ‘Computer’.

Programs for NC / CNC machines are files comprised of combinations of letters and numbers.

For example, if we wanted to cause a machine tool to rapid move to the top-left start of the blue arc which is centred at 0,0  and to cut the arc in a clockwise direction at a rate of 20 units per minute, one form of CNC code to do that is:


G00 X2.93 Y14.042
G02 X13.81 Y3.879 I-2.93 J-14.042 F20.0


We’ve omitted tool change, spindle & coolant codes, tool & work offsets, tool compensation and cut depth from our example.

Programs containing a lot of toolpath are clearly going to be huge. Before CAM computer programs became available all of the math and trig for each move was calculated by the programmer.

Just imagine creating an NC program without the aid of any form of graphical toolpath verification! And using the calculators of the time? We take our hats off to those guys.

When computers became capable of being used to run software to help generate all of those letters and numbers, the CAM software industry began to develop.

When did SmartCAM begin life?
SmartCAM was first created around about the time that affordable desktop PCs became available, in the early 1980’s. If you’re interested to know more, you can read about our history on our website, here

 Where we do it
Our business is headquartered in a wonderful part of the world at Springfield, Oregon, up here in the American North-West.

But we sell SmartCAM to all parts of the world. 99% of our sales in the US are handled directly by our company, and we apply a reseller sales partner business model for international business.


Our international business manager was really anxious for us to let you know that there are usually opportunities to join us as an international sales partner in many parts of the world. Contact us at info@smartcamcnc.com if you’re interested.

There, that should keep him happy.

Who we are
We are SmartCAMcnc, created by owner and founder Gregg Olson to continue SmartCAM development & sales following a, ahem, turbulent period in the history of our CAM software.

Many of our staff were part of the original SmartCAM business. We are as enthusiastic today about CAM and about our SmartCAM products as we have ever been.

We’ve found that SmartCAM kind of gets in your blood. Maybe you’ll discover that for yourself one day.

And last but not least, the H: How we do it
We reckon that the way that SmartCAM is used to create CNC programs is pretty unique. In an illuminating quote from a valued customer – thank you, Chris - The SmartCAM Difference is neatly summarized for us:

“Where SmartCAM CAM software is unparalleled is in toolpath manipulation. There is NO CAM product in existence that is as versatile at this. Because all SmartCAM toolpath (including holes) are created as a type of geometry element, every single toolpath segment can easily be edited/modified/sorted/re-ordered per your necessity or desire. In this regard, SmartCAM is the best CAM product in the world. “
Chris K., SmartCAM User

You can draw toolpath in SmartCAM. You can modify it as if it were CAD geometry. You can convert CAD geometry to toolpath and vice versa. You can easily transform / copy-transform toolpath. You can use automated processes to produce toolpath. You can work with those automated toolpaths alongside interactively-created elements. You can easily re-sequence, modify, delete toolpath, and more.

And – the thing we all too easily forget what CAM software is purchased for in the first place – to enable you to generate quality CNC code for your machines. 

Enough said, we think.

Have a great day,