FeatureCAM Standard Class

Introduction: Introduction to 2.5D Milling

In this first lesson, we will program a simple 2.5D part, simulating the process of programming a part from a drawing with dimensions. However, before we jump right in to programming this part, we will first take an look at the workflow of programming parts in FeatureCAM. This workflow will help guide us through the programming of every part in FeatureCAM, whether it is one of the parts shown in this class, or your own part in your shop.

Introduction to the Workflow

Whether you are new to FeatureCAM, or new to CAM in general, this class will help you build a solid FeatureCAM foundation by focusing on the fundamental workflow in FeatureCAM. In this class, we will program three different parts. While each part may be different, the workflow we follow to program them will remain the same. After completing this class, you will be able to use the workflow outlined in this class to tackle any project you may encounter in your shop. Whether you are programming a simple block with holes, or a complex 5-Axis part, following this workflow will help ensure you are able to complete your projects as quickly and efficiently as possible.

  • Open/Import: Open a new FeatureCAM File, or import an existing solid model
  • Stock: Specify size and shape of stock material you will be machining
  • Machining Prep: Take into account real-world machining considerations such as touch-off points, tool cribs, and post-processors for your given machine to prepare your model for actual machining
  • Create Features: Create all features needed to machine your final part
  • Simulate: Simulate your toolpath to generate NC code, ensuring that your toolpath is as safe and efficient as possible
  • Revise: Make any revisions necessary to further improve your toolpath, and re-simulate to verify new changes

Open, Stock, Machining Prep

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  • Create a new document
    • Milling Setup
    • Inch
    • Wizard
    • My Configuration

Once the document is created, and you are met with the Stock Wizard, you are free to move on to the next step in our Workflow – Stock.

  • Define the piece of material that will be used to machine this part
    • Block stock shape
    • Width: 8 in
    • Length: 8 in
    • Thickness: 2 in
    • Material: Aluminum

After defining the piece of material we will be using as our stock, the wizard will ask us to define our setup location, or touch-off point. At this point, we are ready to move on to our next step – Machining Prep.

  • On the 'Setup – Definition' leave the default parameters for this part
  • Align the setup, or tough-off point, with the stock face
    • Top of stock face
    • Lower-left corner of the stock
  • Select the Basic tool crib
  • Select the Fanuc 3X Mill Default.cnc post-processor

Create Features

For this part, we will experiment with creating a feature from a curve, by creating out own profile to be machined, and then a pattern of features from dimensions.

  • Use the 'Center, Radius' circle constructor to create three circles - each with a radius of 0.5".

  • Now use the '2 Points' line constructor to create a closed profile, creating 3 separate lines, each snapped to the tangencies of the circles.

  • Use the curve chaining tool to chain one closed profile around our newly created geometry.

  • Now create a pocket feature from curves using our newly created curve.
    • Depth: 0.5"
    • Default Strategies

  • Now let's create a hole pattern by creating a hole from dimensions, and checking 'Make a pattern from this feature.'
    • Hole Type: Plain Hole
    • Depth: 1"
    • Diameter: 0.25"
    • Pattern: Rectangular
    • Pattern Dimensions:
      • Row Number: 2
      • Row Spacing: 5"
      • Number: 2
      • Spacing: 5"
      • Feature Location: (1.5, 1.5, 0)
      • Default Strategies

When you are done, your features should look similar to the features shown below.

With all the features needed to machine this part created, we are ready to simulate our results, and revise from there.

Simulate, Revise

Now, let's simulate the Features we just created, make any necessary changes, and simulate our final code.

  • Run a Centerline Simulation
  • Run a 3D Simulation

Everything is looking good so far, but let's make a few small changes to clean up the machining of this part, and account for some common real-world scenarios.

  • Edit Setup1, moving it from the Upper-Left corner of the stock, to the center.
  • Change the stock material from aluminum to steel.
  • Run a 3D Simulation

While these two quick changes won't be reflected in our simulations, they will certainly alter the code generated during simulation.

  • Add a 0.05" chamfer to the pocket feature.
  • Change the hole type to a Tapped Hole
    • Standard Thread: 0.25–20 UNC
    • Thread Depth: 0.75"
  • Create a Face from Dimensions Feature
  • Run a 3D Simulation

With those few quick changes made, we have significantly altered our code. With these revisions made, and our simulation verified, we are ready to move on to our final, and most important step – NC Code.

NC Code

With our final simulation run, our NC Code has been generated and is ready to be sent to the machine.

  • Select the Show NC icon to open our NC code in the Results window.
  • Select the Save NC icon to save the displayed code.
  • Save the NC code to your desired directory.

Note: This exercise is for educational purposes. The post-processor used in this exercise is a generic post-processor used for training, and will likely not work for your machine. Do not attempt to run any code generated in this exercise.