November 5, 2018


Welcome back once again to the SmartCAMcnc blog


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.

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

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