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MOLD MACHINING


software that is built specifically for moldmaking to address these specific needs—CNC machines designed for mold- making, cutting tools that are specific for moldmaking, and of course software.” From a software perspective, the big themes are auto- mation, integration, and concurrency, he said. “Automation is critical. In the past, mold machining was considered an art,” Sridharan said. “Today it’s becoming more of a produc- tion process. Many of those working the machines today are not toolmakers by trade, which means that they need better guidance from the software. For example, allowing the designer to add machining attributes and color code the different surfaces so when the file gets to the floor the entire machining process becomes automated.” Closer collaboration between design and NC is just the beginning, he said. “What we are seeing today is cohesive integration of the entire production process, with automated setup, in-process measurement and inspection for greater end-to-end productivity. Concurrency enables moldmakers


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to work simultaneously on multiple components of the job. Software companies are developing multicore, multithread and background calculations capabilities that allow programmers to run multiple jobs at the same time to expedite delivery.” Fast, accurate moldmaking CAD/CAM software is key for users that need top design and manufacturing capabili- ties. With the latest TopSolid 7 software, moldmakers get a system that speeds up moldmaking design and is equally adept at the CAM side, noted Bill Genc, technical director, TopSolid USA (Addison, IL), a subsidiary of Missler Software Inc. (Evry, France).


“Automation is critical. In the past, mold machining was considered an art. Today it’s becoming more of a production process.”


With TopSolid 7.9 Mold, moldmakers get a package that


was fully rewritten in 2009 for native 64-bit multicore proces- sors. The software, which Missler originally developed in the late 1970s as a machine tool manufacturer, offers speed ad- vantages for moldmakers working with very large mold files, he added. “What we’ve learned is that to have good quality CAM, you have to have good quality CAD,” Genc said. A 300-component mold assembly can open in Top Solid in two seconds, he noted, while in other software it may take several minutes. “In our point of view, we are a manufactur- ing-centric software. To us, manufacturing is both design and machining,” Genc said. “TopSolid Mold software is a full manufacturing package and it’s designed to let engineers design molds ridiculously fast.”


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Automation in moldmaking often means focusing not just on five-axis machining, but on the 2D machining that makes up the bulk of operations, it’s as much as 60%, he noted. “A lot of our competitors have focused on the crazy five-axis stuff. Everybody forgets about 2D,” Genc said. Automated features in TopSolid let the programmer pick a method they want, and the software analyzes the features, like feature recognition, he said, only it’s much more interac- tive. “The system performs better than standard feature recognition,” he said. “Mold-and-die features get compli- cated really fast.” With 3D machining, one of the challenges is to get a


tool ready to heat-treat as fast as possible. Moldmakers are removing a lot of material, and with TopSolid’s methods


84 AdvancedManufacturing.org | May 2016


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