CAD software is cool with curves

Jan. 8, 2004
To model complex, high-pressure aircraft ducts, engineers at ACE Clearwater Enterprises turned to VX software from VX Corp., Palm Bay, Fla. for its combined design, manufacturing, and inspection functions.
VX CAD/CAM software from VX Corp., Palm Bay, Fla., combines surfacing functions for shaping complex ducts along with toolpath generation and CMM operations for inspecting manufactured parts. The unified software eliminates IGES transfers and translation errors.
 
 
VX can be used with CMM machines to inspect and verify the conformity of completed parts against the CAD model. In addition, built-in reverse-engineering tools make it easy to import point cloud data from a CMM. This capability helps create machinable geometry in projects that don't have existing CAD files.

To model complex, high-pressure aircraft ducts, engineers at ACE Clearwater Enterprises turned to VX software from VX Corp., Palm Bay, Fla. (www.vx.com), for its combined design, manufacturing, and inspection functions. "VX software lets us more easily develop multicurved surfaces," says Steve Farentinos, engineering manager with the Torrance, Calif.-based company.

The firm's previous workflow sent customers' IGES surface models to the CAD software, back to IGES, and then to a separate CAM package. Tooling changes took a reverse route. "It's a common kludge in many organizations," says Farentinos. "As surfaces get more complicated, the process lengthens. The new approach is simpler and more effective because VX CAD and CAM are together."

The company's ultimate goal is to eliminate as much file translation as possible and to minimize the number of 2D engineering drawings. With both manufacturing and inspection data coming from the same file, there is often no need for dimensioned drawings.

"The CAD/CAM system also saves us from having to purchase add-on products, as would be the case with most CAD/CAM software," says Farentinos. File-repair programs are an example. One recent file came from a customer working in a different CAM system. The model had many overlapping edges and unconnected vertices. VX's healing functions "sewed" the disconnects together and reduced the amount of time needed for manual repairs. Translators in the CAD system handle Pro/E and Unigraphics files without IGES.

The company is also tapping the software's ability to work with computerized measurement machines to inspect tooling. ACE engineers have been writing VX macros to generate CMM code and evaluate CMM data. The idea is to use a single CAD file to manufacture, inspect, and report inspection results for each part.

-- Paul Dvorak

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