Listed below are the previous releases of Alphacam, to view what features where introduced in each of the releases click the buttons below.
ALPHACAM Latest Release - 2013 R2
This page contains a general overview of the new features within Alphacam 2013 R2. Please see the Alphacam 2013 R2 Release Notes for additional, important information, including an extensive listing of all new product features, enhancements, changes, fixes as well as post processor and API enhancements.
Windows 8 Support
New Solid Simulator
- Machine Configuration components
- Milling/routing operations
- 3 axis machining
- 4/5 axis positioning
- 4/5 axis simultaneous
- Nutated head/table combinations
- Additional XY part rotation combinations
New NC Output Manager Add-In
- Output via single or multiple preset configurations
- File location
- File type
- Post processor
- Output of specific operation setups to separate NC files
- NC Output Manager
- Raster to Vector
- Split Nest
BTL Translator - Additional Process Report
- Birds Mouth
- Ridge or Valley Cut
- Lap Joint
- Free Contour
Cabinet Door Panelling (CDM) Enhancements
- New Handle Drilling functionality
- Nesting Zones support
- Performance improvements with large databases
Part Modeler Enhancements
All Part Modeler CAD Loaders are now included in the Part Modeler license.
- NX, ACIS, Inventor, CATIA V5, Creo Parametric
- Move pockets and bosses around the model. They can either be moved from the original CAD datum position or relative to a user defined position using the Translation and Rotation options.
- Modify areas of features, for example, pocket walls and boss heights, on an imported 3rd party model. Individual faces can be moved using Translation and Rotation in X, Y or Z or a combination of these.
- These enhancements will greatly improve preparation for manufacture when working with 3rd party models.
- Copy (New) - Copies the entities and keeps the original entities. Note: All associated features such as thread data and surface finish will be copied. If the original entities are edited, the copied (mirrored) entities will not be updated.
- Move (New) - Moves the entities about a defined mirror plane.
- Reference - Copies the entities and keeps the original entities. Note: If the original entities are edited, the copied (mirrored) entities will be updated. Any associated features such as thread data will not be transferred
- When a profile to be extruded or swept includes gaps and/or overlaps it can be analysed to identify them.
- The Analyse Profile dialog has been enhanced to improve the feedback and make it easier to identify the issues.
- Cylindrical Profiling machining method has been migrated down from the Ultimate level modules into the Advanced level modules
- New Program Stop command
- New Find Operation Text command
- Automatic Support Tag improvements
- Oscillation improvements
- Reports improvements
- Waves add-in - new option to automatically link/blend XY wave lines
- Split Nest add-in - Save Sheets to Drawings command now supports sheets created by the Paneling command
- Many API enhancements
- Much more...
New Reporting Application
The new Alphacam Reports functionality allows for design and creation of robust documentation such as nested job reports, setup sheets, tool listings, and part labels. Reports can be designed by the user for the user, including company logo, barcode labels, etc.
Being able to create user configurable reports and labels improves both part and program traceability.
Tool Path Oscillation
Automatic Support Tags
Support tags can be added automatically to any contour tool path (including 5-axis), allowing the part to stay attached to the material being machined.
This overcomes the issue of small parts moving during the nesting process, reducing material wastage and improving part quality.
Applied tags can be edited easily and included as part of a machining style.
Small parts can now be identified and nested into specific areas of a sheet. This means that small parts can be restricted to the area of maximum hold down (e.g., the center of a vacuum clamped sheet) and therefore have the least chance of moving during machining.
This contributes to cutting material wastage and improving the quality of the part.
Combined Pocketing and Finishing
Pocket area clearance and finish contour machining can now be combined into a single machining operation. This improves the quality of the part and reduces programming time.
In addition, while this produces a single operation, the pocketing properties and/or the finishing properties can be easily edited independently.
A new Paneling command allows for large geometries to be broken into sectioned pieces and automatically placed within separate panels (sheets).
The resulting panels are automatically gapped apart, similar to nested sheets, and moved away from the original geometries for easy identification and access.
Opened geometries are automatically closed along the panel edges, allowing for easy machining.
- A new Chamfering cycle has been added. This new cycle supports drill type and flat type tools defined with taper angles automatically calculates the required machining depth from a given chamfer depth.
All selected holes, including Auto Z support, will be analyzed to ensure the tool can enter the hole where there is a flat on the bottom of the tool, and that the tool diameter is sufficient to complete the full depth of chamfer.
- Many new options have been added to the existing Drilling, Pecking, Tapping and Boring cycles.
- The All cycles can now be output as Local Linear as well as the existing Global Linear.
This output produces 3+2 type NC code with work plane support, versus full 5-axis code with tool vectors that is produced by Global Linear. This provides better support for indexing type machines and machines that utilize plane rotation functionality.
Part Modeler Enhancements
- New Window Selection Introduced for Remove Face Procedures.
- Allows multiple faces of a feature to be selected easily to allow removal of the "dumb" feature.
- Allows faces that are FULLY within a window selection to be selected (Left to Right window selection).
- Allows faces that are PARTIALLY within the window selection to be selected (Right to Left window selection).
- Various enhancements have been made to the Drawing Application within Part Modeler.
- The introduction of "Force Aligned Parallel" dimension button, found on the "Modifier" Toolbar.
- The introduction of the "Construction" line button, found on the "Locate" Toolbar. This button is also available in the Model application.
- Active Component indicated in Model Window.
- When two or more components are present in the model space, the active (selected) component is now indicated in the Model Window by a red tick
- Simplified product installation
Many CLS licensing enhancements
Can now import Vero’s VISI part files
SolidWorks 2013 part file support
New Material Selection options in Z Contour Roughing
Open elements (Machine ► Set/Unset Open Elements) is now available in the Standard levels
Tool Axis Conversion enhancements
Many API enhancements
New Waveform 3D Roughing Machining StrategyThis new roughing strategy is a high speed machining technique that maintains a constant tool cutting load by ensuring the tool engagement into the material is consistent. The tool path moves in a smooth path to avoid sharp changes in direction which maintains the machine tool’s velocity and can dramatically decrease the machining cycle time.
This strategy is superior to the traditional Roughing cycle where machinable geometry features are offset (inward or outward) by a stepover. Traditional tool paths have to run slower feeds and speeds due to the variable width of cut conditions encountered in corners. Tool load spikes as chip thickness increases in areas where the tool finds more material than it did while cutting in a straight line.
New Feature Extraction Options
- New “Open Air Pocket” Feature Extraction method
- When using this new Feature Extraction method, the contour finder will attempt to return pocketed areas and outline geometries rather than purely closed contours. In addition, for open areas which extend across the entire part, the ends of those closed geometries are automatically set as open elements, allowing them to be machined correctly.
- This is quite beneficial for parts such as a simple cabinet side, as shown in the image to the right.
- Improved part alignment control
- The default X and Y datum (reference) point can now be configured for automatic solid part alignment. The default Z-level zero point can now also be set to the middle of the part. In addition, the Align Part command now supports selection of multiple solids.
- New options to automatically run a Geometry Query after feature extraction.
New Automatic Rapid ManagerThis new feature utilizes a new Global Safe Rapid Level property in conjunction with the Machine Configuration settings to help safely manage the rapid positioning moves between work planes and other multiple axis operations.
In addition, rapid positioning moves have been improved on all multiple axis operations so that the tool stays normal to the start/end points during approach and retract.
These enhancements can dramatically improve the simulation results on multiple axis parts.
Additional Operation Associativity and Editability Improvements
- 3D Project and/or Slow Down For Corners can now be easily applied and/or edited directly from the operation’s menu in the Project Manager.
In addition, these settings are now associated and maintained within the operation. So when an operation is edited/updated, these settings are automatically reapplied.
- Special Edits Manager - If special edits, such as Tool Axis Conversion, 3D Project, or Slow Down For Corners, have been applied to an operation, this new command becomes available and can be used to set the sequence in which these edits should be (re)applied when the operation is edited or updated. The order that these edits are applied can greatly impact the resulting tool path.
- Improved feedback and support for manually edited tool paths - When manually editing a tool path (e.g., via most commands within Machine ►Edit Machining) the user is now informed if the intended edit will prevent future editing or updating of the operation.
In addition, there is now a new Discard Tool Path Edits command that removes any previously applied manual edits (e.g., Support Tags) and returns the operation to an editable state.
3D Polyline Boundaries
Closed 3D polylines can now be used as boundaries for 3D machining operations without having to first convert them to 2D geometries, saving several steps and valuable time.
- Blum Exchange Format (BXF) Translator - This new add-in provides the ability to read BXF files exported from Blum's Dynaplan software and convert them to Alphacam drawings.
There is also an option to automatically send the converted files (Alphacam drawings) to the CAD to CAM Style-Layer Processing parts list ready for processing.
- AutoQueries - This new add-in provides the ability to apply multiple Geometry Queries at one time.
- Geometry Z Levels from Parallel Planes - This new add-in provides the ability to convert identical (duplicate) geometries residing on parallel work planes to a single geometry with top/bottom Z levels applied (for Auto Z machining), removing them from their work planes.
This command is particularly useful for imported CAD (e.g., DXF) file geometries which contain a “thickness”, having one geometry that represents the “top” and another that represents the “bottom”.
- Input CAD Extensions - This new add-in provides the following additional (special) geometry manipulation options when importing DXF/DWG files…
- Create Geometry Z Levels from Parallel Planes
- Convert Splines to Lines/Arcs
- Run Geometry Query or AutoQuery
Part Modeler Enhancements
- New optional CAD loader that allows Autodesk Inventor parts and assemblies to be loaded into Part Modeler.
- The Creo Parametric loader has been updated to support Creo Parametric version 2.0 models.
- The new 3D Construction menu ► Operation ► Remove Face command allows you to remove features from a 3rd party solid model (a model with no history of features in the tree browser).
- Enhanced Surface Finish Attributes dialog.
- The Surface Attribute Viewer has been integrated into the dialog; move between tabs for visual feedback of face settings
- New Formed Size setting (Surface Finish drop-down list) denotes the face is already to size and requires no machining (i.e. a cast/forged finish or previously machined face – no stock to remove)
- Use the Machined Faces Viewer to see which faces are ‘to size’ and which require machining
- Surface Attribute colors are only displayed when dialog is active to ensure surface finish colors do not overwrite user defined colors
- Rendered image on tapped holes
- Enhanced editing procedures editing a procedure by double-clicking the feature on the model
- Many CLS licensing enhancements, including multiple Servercode support
- Default Coolant value can now be set within tool definition
- Auto 3D leads for Machine Surface with Tool Side
- Auto 3D leads for Cut Between 2 Geometries
- Can now 3D project geometries, polylines or splines to STL parts
- Multiple tool notes can now be applied to Operations and saved within Machining Styles
- New Feedrate Modifier (%) for lead-in/out moves
- Take Account Previous Machining now supports existing saw paths
- New Tool Offset from Center Line option in Cylindrical Parallel machining strategy
- Many API enhancements
Aspire for Alphacam
- A very exciting new partnership brings a special version of Vectric's award winning Aspire software for artistic 3D design which has a direct link with Alphacam.
- Combining the Aspire designing tools with the Alphacam machining features makes for a very powerful combination.
Continued Improvements to Tool Path Associativity and Operation Editing/Updating
- All machining operation types are now fully editable. This includes all machining Add-Ins (e.g., Face Milling, Thread Milling, Boring Along 2D Line, etc.) which also now support operation editing functions, Machining Styles, etc.
- New operation commands provide the ability to regain associativity if lost. This is particularly useful for Partial Machining operations and Turning cycles.
- Tool Axis Conversion can now be applied to an operation directly from within the Project Manager. In addition, these settings are now stored (associated) with the operation and can be easily edited or updated as needed.
- New API components provide the ability for tool path operations generated by user add-ins (e.g., VBA macros) to support associativity, editing and updating. Including Machining Styles, adding geometry, copying operations, boundaries, etc.
New Constant Cusp 3D Machining Strategy
- New Constant Cusp 3D machining strategy gives a consistent surface finish over the entire part.
- The use of Guide Curves support provides precise directional control of the machining direction to maximize surface finish and control over the number of offset passes helps target specific areas of the part
Solid Viewing Support for All Modules/Levels
- Solid bodies contained within Alphacam drawings are now visible and maintained in all Alphacam product levels, including Alphacad and the new Alphacam Shop Floor Editor (formerly Alphaview+). This prevents loss of data when working between multiple levels of Alphacam as well as enhanced realism when checking parts on the shop floor.
Refreshed Alphacam APM User Interface
- The Alphacam Automated Parametric Manufacturing (APM) user interface has been updated to coincide with Alphacam’s core look and feel. This includes updated toolbars and graphics, as well as support for visual themes and large icons.
Part Modeler Enhancements
- New optional CAD loader that allows Creo Parametric models to be loaded into Part Modeler
- Improved working with Surface Finish Attributes
- New Helical Groove feature
- New Emboss/Engrave feature
- Threads on models can now be rendered
- Improved editing procedures
- Simulation improvements
- Links for Multiple X/Y Cuts
- CLS licensing enhancements
- GUI and ease of use enhancements
- API enhancements
- General maintenance
- Many more…
New Parallel and Flat Area 3D Machining Strategies
- Much improved Parallel and Flat Area 3D machining strategies for cutting solid models and surfaces provide reduced cutting time, improved surface finish and improved tool life.
- Automatic exclusion of flat areas on parts allowing for flat rather than ball ended cutters to be used.
- Steep and shallow areas of parts detected allowing for different strategies to be adopted, such as a smaller tool step-over in a steeper gradient to that used in a shallow area.
- Options to always down or up mill, and loop or round sharp external corners.
New Geometry Query Manager
- The Geometry Query Manager allows for a set of rules to be defined and applied to the current Alphacam drawing. Based on these rules, geometries are moved onto specifically named user layers. Machining Styles can then be applied to these layers automating the generation of tool paths. AutoStyles and CAD to CAM (add-in) have also been updated to take advantage of this new functionality, proving further automation improvements.
- Adaptive Feed Rate Support for Z Contour Roughing
- This new feature in Z Contour Roughing provides the ability to automatically adjust the tool’s feed rate throughout the tool path, taking into account the effective width of cut. While machining a full width of cut, the feed rate can be automatically reduced to lessen the tool load. Conversely, while machining a narrower width of cut, the feed rate can be automatically increased to reduce machining time, without overloading the tool.
New Automatic Work Plane Ordering
New Extract Solid Edge for Sawing
Editable Spline/Polyline Tool Paths
- Tool paths created via Cut Spline/Polyline, including simultaneous 5-axis operations, can now be modified and updated via the Project Manager.
- Automatic 3D Lead-In/Out Support for Cut Spline/Polyline
- 3D Lead-In/Out moves can now be applied automatically during the Cut Spline/Polyline process.
New Fabricate | Containing Loop command, new Inventor Export add-in, simulation improvements, improved true shape nesting, CLS licensing enhancements, GUI enhancements, CAD to CAM (add-in) enhancements, many more…
User Interface Enhancements
- New gradient screen background, for both shaded and wireframe modes
- Reconfigured and simplified default toolbar configuration and layout
- Several new, more specific toolbars for easier organization and access to Alphacam commands
- New functionality to automatically apply lead-in/out moves during the Rough or Finish process
- Enhanced options to allow Arc Radius and Approach/Retract Angle values to be specified independently for lead-in and lead-out moves
- New Set as Default and Get Defaults options when applying lead-in/out moves allows for current settings to be easily saved and recalled (these defaults are also used when applying automatic leads in Rough or Finish process)
- Can now edit Lead-In/Outs for an operation via the Project Manager
Editable and Associative 3D Machining Operations
- Can now edit machining data for most 3D machining operations from the Project Manager
- New Set Start Point and Set Center Point commands added to right-click menu in the Project Manager’s Operation tab. These commands allow these points to be easily changed without having to reapply the tool path. Upon changing these points, the tool path is automatically updated to reflect the change.
- The surfaces, solids and boundaries used for machining and foul checking are now displayed within the operation in the Project Manager. In addition solids, surfaces, boundaries can be easily added to or removed from the operation via the right-click menu for the respective item. When adding/removing objects from the operation, the operation is automatically updated to reflect the changes.
- Many 3D machining operations now maintain associativity for commands such as move, rotate, scale, etc. When the original geometry is modified (e.g., moved, scaled, etc.) the operation can be updated and the respective tool paths are regenerated to reflect the change to the geometry.
Editable and Associative Profiled-Side Operations
- Profiled Side operations can now be edited and updated after re-opening the drawing
- New Edit Reference Point command added to the right-click menu in the Project Manager’s Operation tab for Profiled Side operations. Upon changing these points, the operation is updated automatically and the tool paths are regenerated to reflect the change.
- New Edit Side Profile command added to the right-click menu in the Project Manager’s Operation tab for Profiled Side operations. This command makes it easy to replace one profile-side tool path with another without having to redo the entire operation.
- The profile geometry now maintains associativity with its tool paths. When the original profile geometry is modified (e.g., filleted, scaled, etc.) the operation can be updated and the respective tool paths are regenerated to reflect the change to the geometry.
New Rest Machining / Pencil Tracing 3D Machining Strategy
- Much improved Rest Machining / Pencil Trace 3D machining strategies have been implementation from Planit 3D machining engine
New Redo command allows reversing of the Undo command (or multiple Undo commands). In addition, along with this comes much improved Undo support.
Move to Own Operation
New Move to Own Operation command allows for a geometry to be easily moved from within its current sub-operation to its own sub-operation, the operation can then be edited independently of the original grouping.
Many Ease of Use Commands Added to the Project Manager Context Menus
- New Update command allows updating of individual operations
- New Delete Layer command allows user layers to be easily deleted
- New Create Group command allows to easily group select objects
- New Remove Group command allows easy ungrouping of selected objects
Wire Module Enhancements
- Wire operations are now be edited and updated
- Now contains Machining Style support
- 4-axis cuts are now supported within work planes
- Improved interface now contains an updated toolbar
- An open AutoStyle can now be applied directly to the active drawing from the main editing dialog
- A new AutoStyle can now be created directly from the main editing dialog
- Can now save the open AutoStyle as a different AutoStyle directly from the main editing dialog
- Improved portability support allows AutoStyle files to be more reliably copied from one computer to another
- New IGES Healing extra cost option provides cleaner, more robust IGES conversion
- New Waves add-in adds three new commands that allow easy creation of sine wave type geometries. These sine wave geometries can then be used to create various types of textures (e.g., wave boards, textured walls, etc.).
- Much improved support for machining of large STL parts
- New Include Surfaces option within 3D Solid Machining allows for surfaces and solids to be machined together
- New Auto option when specifying values for Cut Between Z Levels within 3D surface/solid machining
- New Include Surfaces option within 3D Solid Machining allows for surfaces and solids to be machined together
- New option to output STL files as binary (much smaller file size)
- CAD | Magnify command now exists in Standard and Essential levels
- CAD | Move Dimension command now exists in Essential level
New Cylindrical Parallel 3D Machining Strategy
Support for rotary cutting functionality in Mill, Router, and Stone modules. Fixed XY, YZ, XZ rotational orientation in Standard and Advanced levels of Mill, Router and Stone and full 4-axis support in Ultimate levels of Lathe, Mill, Router, and Stone.
New Z Contour Roughing Strategy for 2D Pocketing
Usage of the Planit Z Contour Roughing engine for 2D pocketing, provides all the power and efficiency of 3D Z Contour Roughing, such as climb or conventional cutting, tool path links, high speed cornering and more, without the need for Solids/Surfaces.
New Rough/Finish Options to Produce Multiple Roughing Cuts
Enhanced Rough/Finish options to produce multiple horizontal (XY) roughing cuts in a single process.
New Wrap Around Geometry Functionality
Designed to complement the existing Wrap onto Surface feature, without the need for surfaces. Allows wrapping of a variety of objects, such as 2D geometry, 3D polylines, splines, surfaces, STLs, and 2D/3D/5-axis tool paths, around any 2D geometry.
New Geometry Editing Tools
New Fabricate editing tools, such as Cut, Crop, Subtract, etc., provide advanced manipulation of 2D geometry.
Solid Support for Cut Spline/Polyline
4/5-axis tool angle can now be controlled by Solid Faces or Solid Bodies, in addition to Surfaces. This provides a much more reliable and cleaner result when compared to Surfaces and eliminates the need to create Surfaces from Solid Faces. Solids are also now supported within the Edit Tool Angle command within the Ultimate modules.
Solid Support for 3D Project and Wrap
Geometries and/or toolpaths can now be projected to or wrapped onto Solid Bodies.
Enhanced Tool Side and Automatic Start Point Options
New options to automatically set tool side and start point for closed geometries.
Enhancements to Standard Level of Mill, Router, Stone
- STL support, including STL Utilities
- 3D Solid Machining for STL parts
- Machining Configuration support for tool/part movement and rotation
- AutoCAD 2010 file support
- Additional improvements to Z Contour Roughing
- Extend 3D Polyline to Solids
- Animation during viewpoint changes and zooming commands
- Lead-In/Out line support for centreline tool paths
- CAD to CAM enhancements
Updated User Interface
A variety of interface enhancements provide a more modern and familiar look and feel and more control over the working environment including; all new professionally developed small and large size button icons, selectable color themes, enhanced toolbar customization and user-definable hotkeys.
Improved 3D Z Contour Roughing
Integration of Planit 3D Machining Engine. Many new and enhanced machining techniques and parameters including:
New Spiral machining method, New option to automatically close open pockets for Contour pocketing method, New options to specify Climb or Conventional cutting method, much improved tool path link methods, new option to avoid rollover on the edges of open pockets, New high speed cornering option and new trochoidal option for full-width moves.
Simple 2½D Exact Engraving
True “ramping” of internal corners with Taper tools. Ideal for art type work as well as simulated raised panel doors.
Enhancements to Essential
Machining Styles functionality has been added to all Essential modules. A Machining Style is a set of operations that have been stored for later reuse. Utilizing Machining Styles greatly increases productivity by decreasing the time to generate tool paths.
3D Mouse Support
Alphacam 2010 R1 now supports 3Dconnexion’s 3D mice. These devices give the user increased control and intuitive navigation when working in a 3D environment. For more information on these devices, please visit www.3dconnexion.com.
CAD to CAM 2.0 Add-In
The CAD to CAM 2.0 add-in provides new functionality which allows the user to define User Layer ↔ Machining Style mapping schemes for batch processing (machining and nesting) of layered DXF files or Alphacam drawings. Now included with all Mill, Router, Stone product levels at no additional cost!
Raster to Vector Add-In
Improved Raster to Vector add-in incorporates a new engine, providing much better results. Now included with all product levels at no additional cost!
Alphacam 2010 R1 has been tested for compatibility with Windows 7, the next generation of the Windows operating system
- Stone module now contains Peck Drilling functionality
- Profiled Side Machining functionality is now available in the Standard level modules
- Apply Compensation on Rapid Approach/Retract option now available with the Machine Holes command (Advanced level +)
- Added support for importing binary DXF files
- Much improved hole and contour feature extraction