Delcam launches 2016 FeatureCAM with new high-efficiency roughing

Delcam has launched the 2016 release of its FeatureCAM feature-based CAM software. This includes a range of enhancements, in particular more options for the Vortex high-efficiency area-clearance strategy, support for bar-fed mills, more efficient turning and user-interface improvements to make programming even easier and faster.


FeatureCAM was the world’s first feature-based programming software when it was launched in 1995. Constant development since then has ensured that the system has retained its leadership in programming speed and ease of use, while an increased range of strategies has been added to provide more efficient toolpaths that give greater productivity on a wider range of machinery, including mill-turn machines, five-axis mills and wire EDM equipment.

The 2016 release includes a number of enhancements to the Vortex area-clearance strategy. Vortex gives the fastest safe metal removal from solid carbide tooling, in particular designs that give deeper cuts by using the full flute length as the cutting surface. It produces toolpaths with a controlled engagement angle and so maintains the optimum cutting conditions for the complete roughing cycle, giving faster machining and longer tool life.

The ability has now been added to adjust and fine tune the non-cutting moves of 2.5D and 3D Vortex toolpaths, with options to retract the tool and/or to increase the feedrate. These options can be set individually, or can be combined to achieve an optimum toolpath, with a reduced cycle time.

Other roughing improvements include the ability to take into account any remaining stock on the model during holder collision checking, ensuring that Z-level roughing toolpaths are completely free of tool-holder collisions.

Milling of inside or outside groove features has been upgraded with a number of improvements. These include support for different types of roughing links, wind-fan approach and retract moves for finishing, better gouge checking for plunges and retracts, and tool radius and partline cutter compensation support.

Support has been added to FeatureCAM for multi-tasking bar-fed milling machines, such as the Mazak Integrex I150, and the Willemen-Macodel 408T and 508T. Access to the back of the component is possible with an option to set the swivel angle of the machine, with additional cut-off operations now available that use milling tools.

Five-axis swarf machining has been made more flexible with a new option to control the upper and lower Z limits of a simultaneous five-axis swarf toolpath. This is useful if there are limitations on the tool length that can be used or if the stepdown needs to be varied for different segments of the toolpath.

For users of FeatureTURN, the selection of turning tools has been simplified with the ability to use a single tool in multiple orientations. This new automatic tool orientation categorises tooling into either outside-diameter or inside-diameter turning tools, so shortening the time taken to program parts and reducing the number of different tools required in the tool crib.

In addition, the engage angle can now be set for the lead-in approach move. By controlling the approach move in this way, smoother chip formation and lower cutting forces can be achieved.

FeatureCAM now allows the quick import and alignment of a variety of pre-defined vices and chucks into a machining project. The result is increased productivity, not only due to the speed of programming but also because collision checking is provided automatically during simulation.

Used in combination with PowerSHAPE, FeatureCAM now allows machining files to be selected and nested automatically in a single block to optimise stock material usage.

Interface improvements include the ability to create additional setups quickly during FeatureRECOGNITION, via a new button in the Feature Wizard. This reduces the overall programming time significantly.

In addition, items within the part view are now highlighted when the cursor hovers over them. At the same time, the items are also highlighted in the graphics screen, making it easier to find and select the desired items quickly.

Finally, Autodesk RealDWG has now been integrated into FeatureCAM, bringing with it increases in the speed of import of DWG files and support for DWG solid model import.