MoldMaking Technology

JUL 2018

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Software 12 MoldMaking Technology —— JULY 2018 Pages 5 to 12 CAD-for-CAM Toolboxes Help Design Better Molds By Ben Mund Most part-manufacturing processes today begin with a CAD model rather than a print. For subcontract mold shops, it may be the finished part model file that comes in from the customer's design staff. Then, it is the moldmaker's turn to construct the CAD model of the mold that will form the finished plastic part. That has its own inherent challenges because moldmakers have many things to think through about the mold, which the part designer may not consider. One of those things is part removal. Most CAM software packages accept a wide variety of spe- cific or neutral CAD file types. Many also have a robust CAD engine of their own, giving the user the ability to create the model from scratch, if necessary. CAM software packages also provide a number of tools to easily adjust the CAD file. However, one of the crucial CAD elements that CAM pack- ages can offer moldmakers is a set of specialized CAD-for- CAM tools that focus on the machinist's needs after the machinist opens the part file. CAD-for-CAM tools enable quick, temporary model changes that do not impact the final part design but can streamline toolpath generation and often promote better part finishes. These often start with the ability to "heal" flawed surfaces or solids data, making the part usable. Other tools are geared toward temporarily filling holes or shallow pockets and identifying solid-model features that the machinist can quickly turn "on" or "off " in the CAM package for program- ming purposes. This can make the cut over a part smoother before those details are machined and help yield a better, higher-quality finish at a faster pace. Other powerful CAD-for-CAM tools focus on the creation of the mold itself. Parting line calculation is crucial in ensur- ing that the mold is sectioned properly. Good CAM software will offer the ability to calculate optimal parting lines from the CAD model, which is something that the part designer often does not consider. Similarly, tall, thin ele- ments on a molded part can pose challenges to the machinist, who has to try to separate areas where electrodes might be appro- priate. Automated CAM tools that automatically pull EDM electrodes from a CAD model make the process much faster and more precise. As a general rule, designers are more focused on the nuances of the finished part, while CAM programmers, man- ufacturing engineers and machinists concern themselves with making the part, and the first step is the mold. That is no small feat either, and machinists often need to be every bit the artist that a designer has to be to manufacture a good mold. Happily for moldmakers, excellent tools in CAD/CAM packages are available that make the job easier. CONTRIBUTOR Ben Mund is a senior market analyst for CNC Software Inc. Parting line calculation is crucial in ensuring that the mold is sectioned properly. Good CAM software will offer the ability to calculate optimal parting lines from the CAD model, which is something that the part designer often does not consider. Image courtesy of CNC Software. CAD-for-CAM tools frequently promote better part finishes. FOR MORE INFORMATION CNC Software / 800-228-2877 / mastercam.com Machinists often need to be every bit the artist that a designer has to be to manufacture a good mold. Happily for moldmakers, excellent tools in CAD/CAM packages are available that make the job easier.

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