Talking Tech: Smarter software for smarter machining


CGTech is releasing version 9.3 of its VERICUT machine simulation, verification and optimisation software for all types of subtractive, additive and hybrid manufacturing processes. The software operates independently, but also integrates with all major CAM systems.

VERICUT 9.3 focuses on creating “smarter”, more efficient manufacturing operations. According to technical support manager Gavin Bridger, machine connectivity is at the heart of this ethos.

“We can connect to the actual machine that the software is simulating,” he explains. “We’re able to read what’s on the machine – tool lengths, NC programs and parameter files – and compare that information with what’s actually in the virtual software [the digital twin]. This capability ensure that the machine matches what took place in the simulation before any actual cutting takes place.”

He adds: “We’re getting smarter all the time. At present, we’re developing to perform real-time simulation while the machine is running, and feed the final results back. It’s a constantly evolving picture.”

Show of strength
The latest version of VERICUT introduces functions that bring in data around the machine, tools and stock to improve simulation and overall manufacturing workflow. For example, the software now features a strengthened core, including improved collision checking and increasing the limit on axes per sub-system (18 instead of 12 previously). The latter enhancement will be of particular benefit to those machining complex parts on multi-tasking mill-turn centres.

In total, there are hundreds of customer-driven changes and improvements in the latest release to help meeting ongoing demand for even richer VERICUT capabilities.

“Business is good right now, with many new customers coming on stream, particularly in the aerospace, motorsport and general subcontracting sectors,” states Mr Bridger. “Initially, the main reason we hear for investing in VERICUT is the protection of machine tools, which are expensive assets to repair should a collision occur. Accidental collisions can happen on any machine tool machining any part – it doesn’t need to be a four- or five-axis operation involving the generation of freeform surfaces. Almost all machine tools are high-value assets so they’re worth protecting. Furthermore, losing a machine because of a collision can have a hugely detrimental effect on production.”

CGTech is continually developing the way collision detection works, avoiding any compromise to simulation speed and accuracy. In short, the software is becoming faster and faster with more detailed models.

“However, while the core of VERICUT is about protecting machine tools, tooling and workpieces, there’s much more to this software than just simulation,” says Mr Bridger. “The integrated Force optimisation module, for example, can deliver significant cycle time savings.”

Feel the force
VERICUT Force has received several additional features and enhancements in 9.3. Alongside improvements to core features and functionality, deflection calculations have changed to account for the entire rotating tool assembly, where previous versions only considered solid-carbide round tools with holders. This change in deflection, along with cutting tool data and information about stock material, improves surface finish, ensures the part meets the appropriate dimensions and extends cutter life. Furthermore, users can add volume removal rate (VRR) limits to all cutters, while the latest version also sees the addition of analysis and optimisation for solid-carbide round tools and complex cutters.

“We’ve seen up to 40% more tool life and 30-40% savings in machining cycle time when using VERICUT Force,” says Jason Mills, engineering manager at Sheffield-based VERICUT user, Advanced Manufacturing Ltd (AML). “The module is invaluable for our production work as it provides us with a competitive edge. It’s quite easy to understand. We simply pick the material from the database and input the cutter geometry, which we get from the tooling manufacturer. Force then does its calculations in the background.”

In the spotlight
Among the highlights of VERICUT 9.3 is the ability to build, manage and reuse assemblies. With the software’s Assembly Manager it becomes possible to create and manage portions of CNC machines, such as rotary table configurations, angle heads for machining, robot end effectors, or various work-holding set ups complete with fixtures and workpieces. This library of assemblies saves programming time since others have easy access, which is ideal for repeat use in new VERICUT projects.

Status and Head-Up Display (HUD) improvements were a further focus area in the development of VERICUT 9.3, where users can now streamline machining and information seen in the Status Window and HUD. The HUD can automatically update to match visible status information, or use ‘Field Visibility Edit Mode’ to edit status and HUD configurations concurrently.

Yet another highlight of 9.3 involves VERICUT’s Tool Manager, which now includes a Tool Performance Database (TPD) that suggests the starting spindle speed and feed-rate values to use with cutters in a wide range of stock materials. This data works with Machining Optimisation Data (MOD) in VERICUT’s Tool Manager. MOD displays a table of spindle speeds and feed rates that helps programmers choose appropriate parameters.

Benefits add up
Aside from conventional subtractive machining, VERICUT also delivers numerous advantages to those performing additive manufacturing processes.

“With VERICUT for additive we look at parameters such as gas-flow feed rates, powder feed rates and bead size – with additive, the machine needs to maintain a certain focal length in order to lay the right size bead,” says Mr Bridger. “We can also detect air gaps, which occur when the machine lays insufficient material on any given path.”

In addition, manufacturers can leverage the benefits of VERICUT in hybrid (subtractive and additive) manufacturing processes as part of the same operation.

“If you have an additive head on your machine tool, we can lay up, then remove material accordingly,” says Mr Bridger. “In fact, it doesn’t matter what order the processes take place, VERICUT can help to simulate, verify and optimise.”

Gavin Powell, managing director of CGTech Ltd, has the final word: “VERICUT 9.3 provides smarter data for smarter manufacturing, giving our customers a cutting edge. With enriched machining metrics, Force feed rate and tool deflection optimisation, this latest VERICUT release creates the most highly optimised yet safe-to-run programs for any CNC machine.”

Want to know more about this article?
Ask us below...

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.