Machining Parts (Alibre Options Tutorial)

31 Dec, 2007 By: Ryan Montgomery

Alibre CAM makes machining parts easy.

Alibre Design makes it easy to machine your parts with Alibre CAM. Based on MecSoft technology, Alibre CAM is included in Alibre's flagship product, Alibre Design Expert 10.0. Besides residing within the Alibre Design interface and parametrically updating toolpaths as you change your part, Alibre CAM has a host of preset and customizable tools and output options. Supporting 2.5-axis, 3-axis, and drilling operations, Alibre CAM is a great tool for taking designs from concept to finished product.

In this month's "Alibre Options" tutorial, we'll start with a part we've already made and apply operations to it. We'll view the toolpath, and we'll output machine code.

Create a Part
Step 1. The first step in machining with Alibre CAM is to create a part. For this example, we'll use a part included in the Alibre CAM installation. If you installed to the default location, go to C:\Program Files\Alibre CAM 1.0\Tutorials and look for the part called 3AxisExample1.AD_PRT. Alternatively, you can create your own part to use.

Start with a designed part.

Step 2. After you open your part in Alibre Design, proceed to the Alibre CAM Browser in the menu bar at the top of the screen. Select Alibre CAM / Browser to activate the Alibre CAM interface. Once in Alibre CAM, click the Setup tab in the Alibre CAM Explorer. Click the Set Up Machine button to change your initial tool position.

Select Alibre CAM and then Browser to activate the Alibre CAM interface.

Select the Setup tab once you're in Alibre CAM.

Step 3. The Set Post-Processor Options menu lets you set batch options and select a program with which to view your machine code, if desired.

Choose the Set Post-Processor Options.

Step 4. The next step is to create your stock or load previously created stock. The Create / Load Stock and the Locate Part Within Stock buttons let you set the size of your initial stock material and locate your part within that stock.

Select the Create / Load Stock or Locate Part within Stock button.

Set up Tools
Now, we'll set up the tools. Click on the Tools tab to see some new options.

Choose the Tools tab.

Step 5. Next, click the Create / Select Tool option. At the top of the Tool dialog box, you can choose from four standard tools. Click one of those tools and then set the properties and dimensions for your tool. When you're finished setting up the tool, click Save as New Tool and then OK to add your new tool to your list. As a side note, you also can load tool libraries or create your own to minimize rework.

The Create/Select Tool button.

You can adjust your tools in the Create/Select Tools dialog box.

Add Machining Operations and Simulate the Toolpath
After we have our part, stock, and tool options set, it's time to set the type of machining we want to perform. In this example, we'll use parallel finishing as our machining type.

Step 6. With your tools in place, click on the MOps (short for Machining Operations) tab. Look for the Milling Methods button. When you click this button, a drop-down menu appears with the options Horizontal Roughing, Parallel Finishing, and Profiling.

Find the Milling Methods button.

Step 7. Horizontal Roughing usually is applied first, and it generates the general shape of your part. Parallel Finishing usually is applied after Horizontal Roughing to add more definition to your shape by shaving off excess material left over from roughing. Click on the Parallel Finishing item, and the Parallel Finishing dialog box pops up. Set the options as appropriate for your application and then click Generate.

The Parallel Finishing dialog box.

Next, you're ready to view the toolpath simulation. Click the Play button to watch the toolpath being created.

The Machine Operations Tab with an active toolpath.

After your toolpath is created, you must output it in the appropriate format depending on the machine you'll use. Alibre CAM comes with a host of postprocessors already defined for you to select from.

Step 8. Click the Post Processor button and select your postprocessor. Set your output directory, press OK, and the file is generated.

Select a postprocessor.

You can use the output to machine your part.

The created machine code.

Congratulations! You've just created your first machine code using Alibre CAM. By exploring options such as Feed/Speed settings, Clearance Control, Z-Containment, and Approach and Engage values, you can fine tune your setup. If you need more tutorials or general help, you can always look in the Alibre CAM Help for more information and tips.

About the Author: Ryan Montgomery

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