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ArtCAM’s new interface releases more of the screen for design visualisation

Delcam has launched new versions of its ArtCAM family of software for artistic applications.  The range comprises the entry-level version, ArtCAM Express for users new to CNC machining, ArtCAM Insignia for production machining and ArtCAM Pro for more complex design and manufacturing, plus the ArtCAM JewelSmith edition for the jewellery industry.  All of the 2010 range will feature a completely new interface that can be customised by the user to give them the optimum productivity.

"The ArtCAM family is used in a wide variety of industries, which has necessitated the incorporation of a large number of alternative methods to design and manufacture decorative items,” explained ArtCAM Project Manager Timothy Buck.  "Our old interface gave equal status to all of these options, even though few of our users needed access to all of the tools.  The result was an overly complex system requiring several clicks of the mouse to reach the required command.”

In the new release, the interface is fully customisable, meaning the every user can set up the software to give quicker access to the commands that they use most frequently.  Similarly, commands that are rarely used can be hidden from the initial menu choices.  This releases much more of the screen for visualisation of the model as the design progresses.

Another change that will increase productivity is the ability to use many more commands on the 3D model directly.  Previously, much of ArtCAM’s modelling had to be carried out on a 2D view, and then calculated and visualised in 3D.  Direct editing in the 3D window will give more immediate feedback, and so allow faster creation and modification of designs.

Further improvements have been made to the sculpting tools, following the major simplification of these options in ArtCAM 2009.  These tools have always been highly valued by the most creative users as they can be used to produce virtually any shape.  They duplicate in the virtual world the ability to sculpt physical materials but with the added advantage that material can be added as well as taken away.

On the machining side, a great deal of underlying technology has been incorporated into ArtCAM from Delcam’s industry-leading engineering CAM system, PowerMILL.  This has enabled the inclusion of the latest multi-threading technology and so given faster calculation times.  It has also given users greater flexibility to edit toolpaths, in particular to optimise the leads and links.

Within ArtCAM Insignia and ArtCAM Pro, more automation has been introduced when machining designs imported as layered DXF or pdf files from other CAD systems.  Using Toolpath Templates, previously defined machining strategies, cutting tools and machining parameters can be applied to named layers within the imported file, using a single click.  The layer structure is also preserved when a design is copied or even after it has been automatically nested to minimise material wastage.  This means that the same Toolpath Template can be applied to all the copies simultaneously, dramatically reducing the time required to machine complex layouts with multiple, optimised, toolpath strategies.

New machining options include a new combination technique of roughing with an end-mill coupled with V-bit carving.  This gives the advantage of faster material removal with the end-mill, while retaining the finish quality that is possible with a V-bit cutter.

A "raised-round” command can now generate this machining option directly from vector artwork.  This technique will be especially valuable for producing foiling and embossing dies that include lettering in their design.

Finally, machining simulations have been made more flexible by adding the ability to change the view during the simulation.  This makes it easier to check the quality and accuracy of the toolpaths on the computer before they are sent to the machine.