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Licom Systems Ltd, Coventry, England, a worldwide firm with offices in all major manufacturing markets, provides a broad range of CAM software capabilities to meet the diversified requirements of general purpose machine shops. The AlphaCAM software system includes modules for geometry creation, 2- through 5-axis milling, drilling, turning, advanced turning, nesting, folding and unfolding, cutting, punching, wire EDM, and 3D engraving.

AlphaCAM is Windows-compliant, supported under Windows 95 and Windows NT, and is intuitive, simple, and easy to use. Areas of the product's strength are with the modern user interface; the range of product offering; comprehensive support of 2 and 2 1/2 axis machining operations; extensive advanced turning functionality; a strong capability in 3D engraving; and all application modules function within a single environment.

In addition to providing NC programming capability for general purpose machine shops, AlphaCAM is appropriate for production machining of prismatic parts. Toolpaths can be modified and/or optimized by interactive toolpath editing and custom macros can be written for family of parts machining. "Tombstone" machining, a common technique employed in production machining, is supported.

Licom is not primarily focused on providing advanced 3-axis multisurface milling functionality as required by mold, tool, and diemakers. Although the 3-axis milling capability continues to be enhanced, it is not an area of product strength but is intended to extend the product line, meet the basic 3-axis milling needs of job shops, and complement the strengths provided by AlphaCAM in other application areas.

A relatively novel Licom strategy is to focus on and provide the necessary software tools to support the woodworking market segment. As such, AlphaCAM includes support of multiplane 4-axis positioning for tombstone machining, parametric macros, automated nesting, 3D engraving, and simultaneous 5-axis routing machines to cut the complex designs often found in furniture manufacturing.

AlphaCAM provides both traditional geometry creation and APS Fast Geometry, a capability for producing 2D wireframe geometry. In the traditional modes, geometry is generated by sequentially defining individual entities such as lines, arcs, and circles. In APS Fast Geometry, the user defines a command and change in direction. The system automatically finds and supplies the appropriate entities such as tangents, trims, and fillets as the part is described.

A strength of AlphaCAM is the comprehensive and capable functionality provided for basic machining. AlphaCAM software is operation-based. An operation includes all cutting actions that are associated with a single tool. As the tool is changed, the operation number is automatically changed. An extensive operations list is developed in AlphaCAM. For each operation listed, the type of operation, tool information, machining parameters, and other pertinent information are captured.

Although general purpose machining shops are the primary market for AlphaCAM, Licom is continuing to develop 3-axis multisurface milling software to expand and enhance the product line. AlphaCAM will accept and machine imperfect geometry from third party design systems that contain holes, overlaps, and gaps. A basic simultaneous 5-axis machining capability is provided in the AlphaCAM advanced 3D milling module. It is used primarily to support routers used in woodworking.

Internally developed toolpath verification functionality is provided within AlphaCAM based on an engine provided by LightWork Design. Toolpath simulation and verification is typically done after each operation. In 2D solid simulation, the tools are shown cutting the part as the toolpaths are processed. In verification, collision or gouges are not automatically displayed in a different color. The user must determine from the simulation if a collision or gouge is likely to occur.

Licom will continue to enhance the 3-axis multisurface machining within AlphaCAM, increase its automation-including an easy-to-use machining methods feature, and add support for high speed machining.

For more information from Licom Systems Ltd, Coventry, England, circle 384;
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Title Annotation:Licom Systems Ltd.'s computer-aided manufacturing software for machine tooling
Publication:Tooling & Production
Article Type:Evaluation
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 1998
Previous Article:Prospector.
Next Article:B5.54 standard up to CAT work.

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