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By Rene Forcier – Application Specialist at SolidXperts

What’s new in 2019? Many things are updated and among these many additions and enhancements are some improvements to SOLIDWORKS CAM to help you use the integrated CAM package in your SOLIDWORKS more efficiently and effectively. The enhancements for SOLIDWORKS CAM this year are the ability to set variable corner speeds when contour milling or milling out a pocket and the ability to generate Zigzag paths while machining pockets or creating facing operations.

First, we are going to look at the Zigzag function for machining. This feature allows you to create multi-directional machine paths that will allow you to remove material in a facing style operation without having to return to the near side of the cut every time. The result of this process is a tool path that looks like the image below.

To create this path, simply select the Face Mill operation function in SOLIDWORKS. This can be accessed by selecting; Tools > SOLIDWORKS CAM > New > 2.5 Axis Mill Operations > Face Mill, or by using the “2.5 Axis Mill Operations” button in the SOLIDWORKS CAM toolbar depending on your view settings.

Once in the New Operation menu, you may set your parameters as you usually would. For this example, we used default operation parameters and a “T12-2 Face mill” as our tooling. From there we created a perimeter feature using the top face of the part, setting the end condition to “Top of Part”.

Once you have created the new operation, you will right click on this operation and select “Edit Definition”, which will open the “Operations Parameters” menu. This menu allows you to adjust speeds and feeds as well as other cutting parameters based on your machine setup. What we are interested in is the “Facing” tab of this menu where we will select the “Zigzag” check box to enable Zigzag tool paths.

All that is left to do for this new feature is select “OK” and right click the operation and select “Generate Toolpath”. Your new Zigzag feature is now complete.

The next enhancement of 2019 is the ability to set variable corner speeds in milling operations. This feature is helpful for tight radius corners or for thin features that you may want to reduce tool speeds, helping to prevent damage. To do this you will set up the parameters of a contour milling operation which is done the same way as the facing operation except you will select “Contour Mill” instead of “Face Mill” in the new operation menu and an appropriate end mill for your profile. Once this is done you will right click and “Edit Definition” as you did to edit the “Operation Parameters” for the facing operation. This time, instead of selecting “Facing”, you will select the “F/S” tab and check the “Enable corner slowdown” check box.

From this menu it is possible to adjust the speed of the tool based on the % of the original set speed or by clicking the “%” button to toggle the value to a set speed of “in/min” or “cm/min” depending on your units. With the corner speeds you desire set, you simply select “OK” and right click to generate toolpaths.

The last thing we will address is the fact that if you are a SOLIDWORKS subscription customer then you already have CAM installed with your SOLIDWORKS license. All you need to do to turn your CAM on is go to the SOLIDWORKS user’s computer and have them turn the add-in on in their SOLIDWORKS settings. This means that any user who already has SOLIDWORKS can use this included software to generate tool pathing and reduce the cost of their overall software expense by removing the need to pay for expensive CAM software to support your workshop.

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