Enhanced Simulation and Automation

Work Planes | User Interface

The Work Planes Project Manager Page includes a new command button in the local toolbar called “Work Plane Properties”.

This displays a window with a grid containing details of the work planes in the active drawing, including the name and offset number.

The names and offset numbers can be edited in this grid.

Project Manager | User Interface

It is now possible to rename the move clamp/fixture operation in the Quick Edit window. The new name will be displayed in the tree in the Operations Project Manager page and NC output.

Drawing Notes | User Interface

New Option – Open with Drawing if note exists. When enabled, this Add-ins Dialog will only be displayed if the opened drawing file already contains some Notes.

Area Estimate | Nested Sheet | User Interface

Area Estimate of Nested sheets now takes drill Holes into account when calculating the percentage scrap area.

Cylindrical Parallel | Width of Cut | Machining

The option to set the width of cut as a distance has been added.

Clicking the pick button in the Cylindrical Parallel dialog displays the Calculate Width of Cut dialog, enabling you to enter a value or pick a point in the active drawing. The width of cut is entered as a distance.

When this dialog is closed, the width of cut is calculated in degrees and entered into the Degrees field.

Cylindrical Parallel | Dynamic Preview | Machining

When editing settings in the Machining Data tab of the Cylindrical Parallel dialog, the Drawing Area will update with a preview of the tool and holder, if applicable.

The machining area is indicated by a transparent shaded area around the part that is automatically updated when settings are changed in the dialog. This allows you to visualise the effect that a change has on the operation.

Machining Dialogs | Machining

As part of the next phase in the development of machining dialogs, the new 3D Machining command has been developed.

The command displays a launch dialog from which the strategy can be selected and miscellaneous settings applied.

Dialogs for each strategy have been enhanced to include tabs, images, tooltips and help file links.

The following strategies are available in the 3D Machining command:

  • Along Intersection.
  • Constant Cusp.
  • Cylindrical Parallel.
  • Cylindrical Profiling.
  • Drive Curves.
  • Z Contour Roughing.

Sawing | Improved Foul Avoidance | Machining

When using a saw to cut parts, the risk of fouling other parts is increased due to the size of the blade.

Sawing operations will now check for fouling against all geometries selected for the same operation. Toolpaths will be trimmed, if necessary.

Sawing | Saw Cut New Command | Machining

New Options for extending saw paths by Distance, to Boundary or Pick Point, with Reversing options.

This can be very useful in Stone where the saw cuts can be extended to be just outside the sheet in order to prevent plunging of the saw.

Drill/Tap Holes Auto Z | Machining

Additional depth control settings have been added to the Levels and Cycle Data tab of the Drill/Tap Holes (Auto Z) dialog. These allow for the tip angle of the tool and the cone angle of the hole, therefore reducing the risk of the tool colliding with the solid.

The settings are available with the Drilling Pecking and Boring cycles.

Width of Cut as % of Diameter | Machining

A new option has been added to the Width of Cut as % of Diameter section called Residual Contour Pocket.

This allows you to have different settings for the main and secondary pocketing tools width of cut when the Take account of Previous Machining option is checked in the Pocketing dialogs.

Input CAD | Solid Model Assemblies | Machining

The Input Cad Dialog now has a new "Assemblies" tab containing options to save and align every Solid Body to individual part files with configurable Save Location and Naming Conventions.

Input CAD | Importer Scale Option | Machining

Due to the importer working in some arbitrary units, a scale was added on import option for mm/Inch when reading in postscript, AI and PDF files.

SOLIDWORKS | Machining

In previous releases of ALPHACAM, it was necessary to use the CADLinks add-in to export assemblies from SOLIDWORKS. This add-in created an XML file and a Parasolid transmit file which ALPHACAM would look for when importing the SOLIDWORKS assembly file (.SLDASM).

In 2017 R1, ALPHACAM can load SOLIDWORKS assemblies directly without the need to use the CADLinks add-in. It is critical that all of the files (sub-assemblies and part files) referenced by the assembly are accessible (usually, they need to be in the same folder as the .SLDASM file).

Solid Edge | Machining

Native Solid Edge Assembly support is not possible at this time but we have improved the way that the CADLinks add-in for Solid Edge interacts with ALPHACAM.

If you have both Solid Edge and ALPHACAM installed on the same PC, you can install the CADLinks add-in for Solid Edge and then use the CADLinks button to export assemblies directly into ALPHACAM.


Lathe Threading | Lathe

A new field has been added to the Threading dialog called Rapid Distance above Part. This enables you to set the distance from the part to which the tool will retract between each cut.

Auto-Update Milling Material | Lathe

A new checkbox called Associate for auto-update has been added to the Material dialog. When this option is checked, the material will be automatically updated based on previous milling operations.

This can be used as the stock material for a 3D Z Contour Roughing operation.

Cut Shape | Stone

A new option has been added to the General tab called Auto Break-out cut (Open paths only). A configurable partial cut, in the reverse direction, can be created at the end of an open profile.

This avoids exiting the material with a full width of cut, which could cause damage to brittle materials.

Cut Holes Auto Z | Stone

Dialogs for the Cut Holes and Cut Holes Auto Z commands have been updated to the tabbed style.

New options have also been added. It is now possible to eject a slug of material from a tool

The feedrate of the tool can now be reduced by a specified amount when it approaches the bottom of the hole.

New parameters have been added for break through and slug eject. New attributes have been added to assist with post processor creation:

Cut with Disk | Stone

Dialogs for the Cut with Disk command have been updated to the tabbed style.

Geometry to machine and the profile along which machining will occur are now selected from the dialog using pick buttons. It is now possible to select a profile from either the Drawing Area or a separate drawing file. Commonly used side profiles can be drawn and stored in a library folder, saving time.

Loaded profiles are placed onto a work plane automatically. The position of the work plane and profile can be defined. The direction of the geometry and / or profile can be reversed and the tool side can be changed as part of the operation.

The dynamic preview is available for this command. When editing settings in the General and Levels and Cuts tabs of the dialog, the Drawing Area will update with a preview of the side profile, displayed as a rendered surface around the geometry. The tool and holder will be displayed, if applicable.


Rough or Finish | Router

A new option has been added to the General tab called Auto Break-out cut (Open paths only). A configurable partial cut, in the reverse direction, can be created at the end of an open profile.

This avoids exiting the material with a full width of cut, which could cause damage to grained timber components due to the grain and cut directions.


5 Axis Toolpaths Transfer | Simulator

The transfer of 5-axis toolpaths between ALPHACAM and the external Simulator has been optimised. Complex operations that contain toolpaths comprising thousands of individual elements will be faster.

Machine Configuration | Simulator

Simulation was restricted to having to have one Head rotation about Z. We now support XY on Head or Table in all simulations.


Feature Extraction | Automation Manager

A new checkbox called Extract Solid Body Outline has been added to the Feature Extraction Contour Settings section of the Layer Mapping Setup tab.

This enables you to extract the solid body outline of the part.

"From Job" Option | Automation Manager

For non-nested job files, the option “From Job” is now available in the Machining Order drop-down menu in the Processing tab.

Layer Mapping Setups Tree | Automation Manager

It is now possible to copy and paste styles in the layer mapping setups tree by right-clicking and selecting Copy or Paste on the menu.

Settings are retained when copying, enhancing efficiency by removing the need to re-apply settings each time a style is applied to a layer. It is also possible to copy and paste a complete setup, if required.

Sheet Database | Automation Manager

ALPHACAM 2017 R1 includes an internal update to the database engine, meaning that the Sheet Database and Automation Manager databases will no longer be compatible with their previous versions.

Sheet Database and Automation Manager will be upgraded automatically after running them for the first time in ALPHACAM 2017 R1. An information message will be displayed informing you of the upgrade.

Previous versions of Sheet Database and Automation Manager will work normally, however, after upgrading any changes made in the old version will not be reflected in new versions and vice-versa.


Parametric Sketcher | Geometry

The Create Panel command dialog has a new checkbox called "Create as a Work Volume" that enables you to create a panel as a work volume in the Drawing Area.

This is useful with many post processors that require the work volume dimensions for the NC controller.


Program Stops | Simulation

If program stops are included in the operation, they will now be recognised by the internal simulation and external simulator.

For the external simulator, program stops will be recognised in the same way if "Stop at Program Stop" is checked in the Stop Options drop-down menu on the main toolbar.

Clamp Moves Speed Control | Simulation

For Shaded Simulation (not Solid), by default, the speed of clamp moves is controlled by the rapid speed read from the Post ($900). The new Feed Rate option added to the Define Clamp dialog box can be used to override this behaviour.