FeatureCAM offers a feature-based CAM approach. Instead of having to program a machine stage by stage, the operator employs terms, such as ‘turn’, ‘bore’, ‘bolt’ and so on. It has sufficient intelligence to recognise needs and requirements from such terms and will automatically adopt the right speed and torque strengths, without having to be instructed, line by line.

FeatureCAM allows the user to program a process more quickly and to get consistent results across a wider variety of parts – and machines, as well. It has a range of customisable settings supplied with the program, with the user able to set customised settings as their default, which avoids the ned to go through layers and layers to get to the right parameters.

The new Directed Automated Feature Recognition (DAFR) capability automatically recognises holes, bosses, sides and pockets in a single workflow, which enables faster programming. While standard AFR slices the model in the active Z-axis and produces complete features as it makes its way down the model, DAFR allows the user to select the features they want, even before recognition begins.

This is not as step-by-step as existing software. It minimizes programming time and helps to reduce cycle time. In a break with convention, DAFR can also be used in turning projects; it gives users the option to choose index angles. This helps to reduce the number of Z axes required and so speeds up cutting.

Centre drilling programming has been enhanced with the introduction of additional parameter controls for centre drills. Both custom tip and included angles can now be set on the tool, which means that centre drills can be used for defining more accurate chamfers. There is no need for additional operations to adjust tip angles; the NC code is automatically adjusted in the process. Safety and part accuracy are greatly improved and cycle times can be cut significantly. Set-up, creation and editing have been amended to improve the user experience.

FeatureCAM 2019 has introduced Tabs in place of the ‘wizard’ in the set-ups dialog, which helps to speed up decisions. FeatureCAM 2019 also combines the Z-axis selection functions into a single button, which is more intelligent. It also makes for better edge-picking.

Snapping grids have new options for displaying lines, dynamic scaling and grid size control. The curvature tool now has an additional tool to indicate the draft angle of chosen faces. In another step to improve ease of use – and productivity – the Thread list now features thread families grouped together, along with access to more standard threads, such as ACME and Trapezoidal. The Tool Post window colours and icons help identify main and sub-spindle operations, as well as tool or spindles for Swiss machining.

A number of hidden menu options are now in the features dialog, including log and initialisation files and post-processing debug options. Roughing and finishing passes can be set in grooves. The new back cutting feature addresses the use of new inserts, such as the Sandvik Prime Turning range.

The new tool pass strategy allows you to turn in all directions with the same insert. This extends insert life, while improving metal removal rates. It also makes Using for better machine utilisation, reductions in setup time and fewer tool changes. It all helps to cut cycle time and component cost.

Radial pattern cutting traditionally required either continuous motion of the C-axis or linear motion in the pattern plane. FeatureCAM 2019’s new option allows the same linear motion for each instance in the pattern, to maximise accuracy, followed by a rotation in the C-axis to access each subsequent pattern. This is particularly useful for machines with limited travel, which cannot cut below the centre line of rotation.

There are new developments for Swiss-style lathe programming. Fixed-angle toolholders can now be used, to machine angle features without any need for coordinate transformation.

The new feature recognition add-in splits full-term length into user-defined shorter sections, which reduces the risk of the part dislodging from the guide bush. Improvements to threading include the option to generate a thread path from a curve, and to generate a chamfer when exiting. A Swiss configuration file is now available with the installed directory.

Subscribers to FeatureCAM can benefit from cloud storage via Autodesk Drive, offering collaborative data-sharing for organisations needing to share files with others for viewing, editing, uploading and managing.