Grab Bag of Helpful Tips for Pro/NC

Pro/NC offers a full solution for the creation of all types of programs for CNC machines used in production environments, including 2.5 to 5-axis mills, 2 to 4-axis lathes, n-axis multitasking lathes with live tooling, wire EDM, punch presses, and lasers. The following tips can help you create programs even faster.

Tip #1: Update to Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5.0

Why move to Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5.0? In addition to new functionality and tool path routines, the Pro/NC interface inside of Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5.0 has been significantly modernized to provide a much more streamlined approach to NC model definition and tool path creation. For example, the top level of menus have been removed and replaced with modern pull-downs and icons.

Manufacturing geometry such as turn profiles is much easier and faster to create.

The Process Manager in Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5.0 directly supports more NC sequence types, including profile milling, area and profile turning, and groove turning. This means that these sequences can now be captured as templates and included in manufacturing annotations for even faster NC sequence creation using the Process Manager.

These and other enhancements and updates make the move to Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5.0 worth considering.

Tip #2: Use a manufacturing start part

The fastest way to begin a new job is to use a manufacturing start part. A manufacturing start part contains predefined settings. For example: cutting tools, workcells, site files, PPRINT settings, operations, and fixture setups—even process documentation in the form of an associative drawing.

Tip #3: Use mill windows

Still using mill volumes? Mill windows are the fastest and most robust way to collect geometry for creating volume milling and face milling sequences. In fact, for roughing, re-roughing, corner finishing, and finishing sequences, mill windows are the only way to collect the geometry. Mill windows allow for faster geometry collection, easier referencing for use in other models (via templates) and more robust updates when the underlying part geometry changes. Mill windows are: faster to create, more flexible, faster to regenerate, used in more types of sequences, and can do almost anything that mill volumes can do.

Tip #4: Reuse existing tool paths

There are more ways to reuse existing NC sequences than can be described here, so it will suffice to mention three.

First of all, if you want to quickly reuse one or more NC sequences in the same model, select the NC sequence(s) and pick Edit > Copy then Edit > Paste. You will be prompted for each of the required references (coordinate systems, surfaces, mill windows, etc.) and voila, the NC sequence is created and may be redefined if desired.

Second, manufacturing user-defined sequences (MUDF’s) provide a great way to copy manufacturing features into other models. MUDF’s can create any number of features, including datums, manufacturing geometry such as mill windows or turn profiles, and NC sequences. Common applications for MUDF’s include hole-making (especially auto-drilling), pocket roughing and finishing, and lathe programming.

A third way to capture and reuse NC sequences is by creating templates in the NC Process Manager. This is a very fast and powerful way to create programs very quickly, especially when used in conjunction with the mfg_auto_ref_mfg_template config.pro option.

Tip #5: Use the correct post processor

Ideally, you should be able to create a program in Pro/NC, post process it, and send it straight to the CNC machine without ever needing to manually tweak the codes.

PTC offers around two hundred post processors for free download from our website, but while most of them are in use by someone, somewhere, that does not guarantee that they will provide you with the output that your machines (or your operators!) require. The posts may need some editing, or perhaps you will need a completely new post. To that end, every seat of Pro/NC comes with the ability to create and edit NC post processors (Applications > NC Post Processor).

Some programmers do not have the skills to customize a post processor or find that the free downloads are unsuitable. In this case you may want to purchase a guaranteed post processor from PTC or a reseller. Contact your PTC rep or check out Austin N.C.’s NC-GPOST and never touch the G-code again!

Tip #6: Attend the Tech Tips Webcasts

Are you aware that PTC offers a large selection of free, live, online “Tech Tips” sessions on a regular basis? You may not be aware that a sizeable percentage of these are manufacturing-related. These sessions go into depth on many useful topics to help you get the most out of your Pro/NC investment.

Source: PTC Express

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