There are many flavors of engineering software that target specific manufacturing processes. For example, CimatronE CAD/CAM software from the Cimatron Group in Israel, lets users handle all aspects of moldmaking, from quoting through design and manufacturing. As typical with these kinds of packages, users can implement individual modules — which include those for data import, quoting, parting, preliminary design, mold tool design, and NC programming — one or two at a time or all at once. Users with all the modules can conceivably get an entire job done in a single setting. These kinds of targeted packages tend to be more efficient because users need not struggle to construct the unique features of a mold with general-purpose CAD, a tedious process at best.
The modules follow a standard mold-design workflow. Here is a sampling of the modules:
The Data Import module heals and stitches data and converts files from all standard formats such as DWG, IGES, and Parasolid. The Quoting module includes a special tool that spots undercuts and other areas needing additional work. It also estimates the cost of the mold base including primary mechanisms such as sliders and runners.
The Parting module lets users modify models for manufacturability. It also includes tools for visualizing parting lines and simulating motion. The Preliminary Design module lets users create quick 3D designs for customer approvals. It lets users design any size mold with thousands of surfaces and components and can handle multicavity and family molds. The module generates an initial BOM, so users can order material early and begin machining while they wait for final design approval.
The Mold Tool module validates designs using measurement, analysis, and collision-detection tools. The module lets multiple users simultaneously work on the same assembly, helping speed design. It includes a library of standard catalog parts and user-defined mechanisms such as sliders and lifters. The module also analyzes engineering change orders (ECO) and applies local changes within seconds, even in assemblies that are close to completion. The Ejection Systems Design module can place hundreds of ejectors in a single step, and then analyze the plates they will pass through and handle the trimming. The module lets users insert ready-to-use ejector mechanisms from any standard catalog.
The Cooling System Design module simplifies the design of complex cooling mechanisms and all the necessary cooling elements such as channels, plugs, connectors, and baffles. The Drawing module eliminates repetitive manual steps by automating the placement of center lines, coordinate labels, and other drawing elements. The Runner Design module quickly creates efficient runners and transfers the runner path data to the user’s NC program. The NC Programming module includes CAD with good surfacing capabilities which provide the best machining results.
The Automated Drill module can recognize hundreds of holes in seconds and then assign the appropriate drilling sequence. Working with other modules, it uses hole properties assigned during the tool design phase, such as thread, accuracy, and surface quality, helping speed design and eliminate errors.
The Efficient Roughing module lets programmers preview machining results in seconds to more easily optimize machining strategies. For highly productive high-speed milling (HSM), the module generates an all-round toolpath with constant tool load, trochoidal milling, advanced clean between passes, and efficient rough between layers. The High Quality Finishing module helps generate good surfaces that don’t need polishing.
Another manufacturing module is Advanced Micro Milling. It includes a large library of machining strategies that support a complete range of cutters including tapered cutters, lollipop tools, and slot-mill cutters. The Post-Processor Support module includes a library of post processors for all three and five-axis machine tools as well as all leading controllers. Advanced simulation generated with the G-code permits simulation of the real-world machine kinematics and toolpath motion. Other modules target wire-EDM programming and electrode manufacturing.