Tons of new goodies for Fusion 360 CAM

By Louis Martineau , Manufacturing Solutions Consultant at SolidCAD

Tons of new goodies for Fusion 360 CAM

Since I last wrote here, there have been big, big changes to Fusion CAM (excuse me: “Fusion Manufacturing”). These changes range from completely new (and it needs to be said, very useful) machining strategies, to significant progress in the implementation of probing technology, to new love for turning, and to subtle but much-appreciated improvements to the user-interface.

The biggest changes are contained within the Manufacturing Extension, a new subscription add-on for Fusion CAM. The idea is that while Fusion CAM (and Inventor CAM and HSMWorks, for that matter) is a modern and very competent CNC programming solution that can make short work of most jobs at a VERY attractive price, there are some customers that require still more power and that are willing to pay a little extra for it. Mold makers are a good example. In the past, the limited multi-axis toolpaths of Fusion CAM did not quite meet their needs. With the new Steep-and-Shallow strategy as well as toolpath trimming / direct editing (both technologies gifted from PowerMill), that has all changed. The Manufacturing Extension also opens the door to surface inspection and on-machine verification, a very hot button for anyone trying to increase efficiencies and get an advantage. Throw in automatic hole recognition technology (thanks, FeatureCAM) and a new Rotary multi-axis 3D milling strategy (this one is all Autodesk), and there is something for everybody. How much for these new goodies? 125 Cloud Credits ($125 USD) per month, month-to-month.

And those other improvements? How about a new tool library interface? The old one definitely was a little clunky. And for those of you who make extensive use of user-templates to capture their best practices (why isn’t everybody?), how about a new interface that will allow you to sort and better manage everything?

I haven’t talked about turning yet… It can be said that while Fusion CAM  / HSM CAM has traditionally been a competent turning solution, most of the R&D over the years has gone into making it a premier milling solution. But a dedicated turning team has now been brought into the development team, and turning is now getting the love it has always deserved. In my next blog, I’ll list all the recent changes (it’s a very long list of small but significant changes). What’s more, we are promised many more such improvements throughout the year, including something called Adaptive Turning that sounds very promising.

Please note that the Manufacturing Extension is free to use right now through June 2020. So, by all means, give it a spin! Several of the other new features are available through the preview mode: just activate what you want under Preview Features in your Preferences; everything is quite stable.

Now, it is quite apparent that Autodesk is turning Fusion into its premier CAM solution. That’s great news and we welcome all the improvements to an already-great CAM. However, if you are a user of Inventor CAM (or HSMWorks), don’t hold your breath for things like Steep-and-Shallow. Instead, Autodesk would rather you fire up the Fusion 360 entitlement included with your CAM. And to make it easier to use two platforms in parallel, recent changes now allow Fusion to play extremely well with Inventor and even SolidWorks.

Sharing is Caring

 By Imran Bhutta , Implementation Consultant at SolidCAD

Sharing is Caring

In todays manufacturing world there is a bigger demand on sharing data with all stakeholders outside your company.  This could be your supplier, buyer, manufacturing team and they could require viewing the drawing to the 3D model that you create.  Using Autodesk Vault you can created a shared view for your outside stakeholders and value chain.  Autodesk provides this as a free viewer, markup and comments, all they would need to do is sign up for a free Autodesk account.  Also Share View is a great tool to use internally as well to do digital markups and collaboration outside the engineering department.

To use Share View simply log into Autodesk Vault and find the model or drawing you would like to share and right click and select Share View:

You may be prompted to login using your Autodesk account, once you have logged in the Create a Shared View dialog box will prompt you to enter a name:

Enter the name you would like and then click on Share, and it will start to process the shared view.

Once complete a Share View Complete Dialog will display that it was uploaded successfully and it will give you a copy link and view in browser option.

Copy Link – This is the link you can email to your stakeholders for them to open and view online.

View in Browser – this will open the shared view in your browser for you to view.

Clicking on View in Brower it will launch the Share View online:

This view will only be available for 30 days on Autodesk Viewer.  Only users who are invited though the link or when selecting share will have access to the model or drawing.

Once singed in users can markup, add comments and when clicking on share, it will send the users in Vault a notification that someone has made a comment on the drawing.

To make a comment simply select comments to type a comment directly.  Anytime you click on Markup the markup changes will be saved on the comments tab when you select Post.

In Vault client to view the comments or markups make sure that Shared Views Panel is turned on.  If not turned on simply go to View > Shared Views and make sure there is a check mark beside Shared Views:

In the Shared Views panel the comments and markups will be shown:

To make a comment back simply click on Reply and it will take you back to the Autodesk Viewer to continue the collaboration between your company and stakeholders.
As you can see getting data to correct users at a timey manor is critical in todays business.  Autodesk Vault Professional and Shared Views enables you to connect the value chain and make sure everyone has the data they need.  Also, Autodesk viewer is not just limited to Inventor or AutoCAD drawings and models if you go directly to viewer.autodesk.com you can sign into your account and upload the following files for collaboration:

Remember Sharing is Caring and happy collaborating!!

Dynamo for Autodesk Fusion 360 – Made Simple

 By Hung Nguyen , Applications Specialist at SolidCAD

Dynamo for Autodesk Fusion 360 – Made Simple

Dynamo Studio is typically associated with Revit; however, it offers a fantastic platform for algorithmic-driven design and easy parameter manipulation in Fusion 360. It also features great T-spline and surface support for complex geometry creation, for those wishing to bring a degree of parametric control to their surfacing with ease.

The add-in supports a bi-directional data exchange between Fusion 360 and Dynamo Studio, allowing users to create visual logic for Fusion 360 parameters update. It can be downloaded here:

https://apps.autodesk.com/FUSION/en/Detail/Index?id=74731490955641349&appLang=en&os=Win64

It provides an ability to use a visual editor environment to modify Fusion 360 model parameters, view and use them in complex logical graphs. Fusion 360 parameters will be automatically updated from Dynamo Studio using custom input and output nodes.
Dynamo for Fusion 360 Supports Dynamo Studio 2017 version: 1.1 – 1.3.

The benefits of using Dynamo with Fusion 360 are:

  • Very complex and rapidly reconfigurable T-Spline surfacing is
  • Parameter driven components can be modified live using sliders to adjust
  • Parameter driven components can have logic integrated to link different parameters and make automatic adjustments according to conditional
  • Parameter driven assemblies can be modified live and can adapt if setup
  • Parameter driven assemblies can have logic integrated to link parameters from different components to respond to changing geometry according to conditional

One of Dynamo – Fusion 360 Workflows is called “Synchronous workflow”. It is directly manipulating parameters listed in the parameter table in Fusion 360. This can enable rapid reconfiguration of assemblies and components by using sliders, or logic can be incorporated to describe relationships between geometry. If you have not tried, here are some simple steps to try:

 Step 1: Create a simple Fusion part with some name parameters as shown:

Step 2: Save and name the part as “Dynamo-Fusion”

Step 3: Go to Tools -> DYNAMO FOR FUSION to run Dynamo

Dynamo will create a same name parameter file with extension “.json” that contains all extracted parameters from Fusion 360 part and stored under:  C:\Users\ (your username) \AppData\Roaming\Autodesk\Autodesk Fusion 360\API\AddIns\Dynamo for Fusion\exported parameters\

Step 4: In Dynamo’s search bar, search for “output” and insert “Fusion 360 Output” node. Repeat search for “Slider” and insert “Number Slider” node.

 


Step 5:
In Dynamo, connect File Path to “Fusion 360 Output” and “Number Slider” to any parameter and set Min, Max and Step. Use the slider to size or adjust the features.

If you would like to manipulate other parameters, then just add more sliders. Simply select the slider node and use Ctrl+C to copy and Ctrl+V to paste it. After that you can customise each slider values (Max, Min, Step) and connect it to any of the parameters and watch the part update. You can even connect a slider to more than one parameter (i.e. to make a square cut).

Using Dynamo with Fusion360 can be fun and simple. Try it and have fun with Dynamo for Fusion 360.

Frame Generator End Caps in Inventor 2020

By Shannon Lundrigan, Technical Specialist MFG,  at SolidCAD

In the 2020 release of Inventor, the Frame Generator Design Accelerator received a number of minor enhancements as well as one of significance that likely has users asking how they ever lived without it.
You can now create and insert end caps to a frame member within Frame Generator.

Here’s how:

First; you must have the Custom Content Center Library installed in order to use this feature. Learn how to do that here.

Once you have frame members ready for end caps, follow these steps to quickly create and add the components:

  • Select “Insert End Cap” on the Frame panel of the Design tab within your assembly;

 

 

 

  • Select the end faces of the members you wish to apply end caps to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Choose the placement: Inset, or outward
  • Choose the profile style: Filleted, Chamfered, or Sharp corners
  • Enter the Chamfer/Fillet size (if applicable), Thickness, Inset (or Offset) distance & Rotation angle

 

 

 

 

 

  • Select the desired part properties, then OK (or “+” to add additional end caps for different tube profiles without exiting the property panel)

 

 

 

 

The end caps are created as members of the frame assembly and the file naming can be controlled in the same way (using “File Naming Defaults” in Application Options). Inventor recognizes identical members upon creation and reuses the end cap files where possible, rather than duplicating them.

End caps can be edited or reused like frame members, using the right click menu in the model browser (“Edit with Frame Generator”)

HSM CAM Tips and Tricks: Equation-Driven Parameters

I will be publishing quick Tips and Tricks regularly to help make you more productive and to capture your best practices.

One of my favorite such tricks is using “smart fields” or equation-driven parameters.

Virtually all fields in the CAM interface that accept numerical values can also accept equations that reference constants or reference other parameters/fields. Right-clicking on the field and selecting “Edit Expression” brings up an input box wherein you can enter a constant value or build at equation. Once you are done, right-click again and select “Make Default” so that this change is remembered the next time you use this machining strategy again.

An example where a constant might make sense is plunge feed rate for operations other than drilling operations. Indeed, this is an approach speed that is largely independent of tool type or size. Perhaps you want this to always be a nice and slow 20 IPM until the program is proven safe. Stock-to-leave is another parameter that could be set to a constant.

Referencing another parameter introduces more power. For example, several parameters can be made dependant on the cutting feed rate.

Indeed, you can set the lead-in and lead-out feed rates to vary proportionally with the cutting feed rate. Similarly, the reduced feed rate for inner corners specified under “Feed Optimization” should also vary proportionally with the cutting feed rate defined under “Feed and Speed”. An expression referencing cutting feed rate would look like this:

(tool_feedCutting * 0.5)

Several parameters can be made dependent on the tool diameter. Indeed, stepovers and stepdowns are prime candidates, as are lead-in/lead-out segment definitions, spiral entry diameter, and stock-to-leave values. An expression referencing tool diameter would look like this:

(tool_diameter * 0.5)

Finally, expressions can contain logic and can combine the two approaches described above.

For example, stock-to-leave might be controlled by an expression that considers tool diameter, but defaults to a minimum value below a threshold tool diameter.

(tool_diameter >= (.250in) ? (tool_diameter * .05) : (.010in))

Expressions can be as complicated as you can make them. They just need to respect JavaScript syntax.

A complete list of parameters that can be used in expressions is found here:

https://airtable.com/shrggXZ4wpuGUiN3w/tblJ9PHav1NwMmqMz/viw09jWqXAR0JmPPM?blocks=hide

Investing two hours into setting up expressions for various machining strategies can go a long way towards capturing your best practices and automating HSM CAM, resulting in increased programming consistency and decreased programming time.

Interested in tweaking an HSM (Inventor CAM, Fusion CAM, HSMWorks) post-processor yourself?

 By Louis Martineau, Manufacturing Consultant at SolidCAD

The “SolidCAD Universal FANUC” post processor (free on our website) contains a large number of parameters that can be set on-the-fly through the “Post-Process” dialog, without needing to change anything inside the post-processor.

If you require other changes, SolidCAD offers a post-processor modification service to adapt this post to your machine and to your best practices.

If you wish to make changes yourself, you are free to do so. Indeed, the “SolidCAD Universal FANUC” post-processor and all the post-processors available on the HSM Post Library website are unlocked and open-source.

The HSM Post Library is found here: https://cam.autodesk.com/hsmposts

A post .cps post-processor file is merely a text file. It can be opened and edited in Notepad or any other text editor. There is unfortunately no user interface; changes must be made to the code in JavaScript language.

However, the good news is that Autodesk publishes a free manual to guide you through the process, covering the basics of JavaScript and explaining the various sections of a post file.

The manual can be downloaded here: https://cam.autodesk.com/posts/posts/guides/Post%20Processor%20Training%20Guide.pdf

If you can’t find an answer in this 200-page guide, you can consult the vast archive of the HSM Post-Processor Forum, and even post your question on this very active forum. The forum is located here:

https://forums.autodesk.com/t5/hsm-post-processor-forum/bd-p/218

 

 

Do you know about Adaptive Clearing?

By Louis Martineau, Manufacturing Consultant at SolidCAD

Hey CNC’ers!

Do you know about Adaptive Clearing? It’s the intelligent roughing strategy at the heart of HSM CAM that has changed milling forever. Increase your profitability by getting to near-net-shape in a single, highly-efficient, tool-sparing operation.

To learn more about the advantages (as well as pitfalls) of this game-changing technology, download the following article:

 

https://www.solidcad.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/A-few-words-on-Intelligent-Roughing-by-Louis-Martineau-.pdf

and visit our website at: https://www.solidcad.ca/partner-products/autodesk-cam/#hsmcam

You can also watch the video down below :

Curious about the hype around Autodesk’s HSM CAM?

By Louis Martineau, Manufacturing Consultant at SolidCAD

 

Hey CNC’ers!

Curious about the hype around Autodesk’s HSM CAM? And now you’re looking for more information and possibly a demonstration? Well, you’ve come to the right place! SolidCAD is not only Canada’s biggest reseller of Autodesk manufacturing solutions, but also the only Canadian Autodesk reseller with a dedicated team of CAM specialists.

HSM CAM is the comprehensive and powerful CNC programming add-on for Inventor (Inventor CAM – included with a subscription to the Product Design and Manufacturing Collection ), Fusion 360 (Fusion 360 Manufacturing – built into Fusion 360), and even SolidWorks (HSMWorks – included with a subscription to Fusion 360).

Please visit our HSM CAM page to read about all the advantages of this integrated CAD/CAM solution and to find lots of technical resources: https://www.solidcad.ca/partner-products/hsm-cam/

Also, try our SolidCAD universal milling post-processor, compatible with a wide variety of 3-axis, 4-axis, and 5-axis machines that accept FANUC-style G-code. This open-source post-processor generates nicely-formatted NC code, and is chock-full of features to make it as flexible as possible. These features include:

  • Safe restart feature after M00 program stops
  • Automatic date and time stamp function
  • Tool table feature in header
  • Operation name, tool name, and cycle time at top of each operation
  • Activation of accumulated pecking depth feature for G73-style drilling
  • Activation of the Manual NC code pass-through feature
  • Property to toggle between 3-axis / 4-axis / 5-axis configurations
  • Property to set maximal spindle speed
  • Property to toggle tool preload on/off
  • Property to toggle rigid tapping on/off
  • Property to assign an M-code for rigid tapping
  • Property to toggle between G54-G59 and G54.1 P1-P300 work offsets
  • Property to toggle between G28 and G53 retracts
  • Properties to set M-codes for 4th and 5th axis brake lock/unlock functions
  • Property to toggle on/off the output of rotary axis positions at every operation
  • Property to toggle on/off the output of M01 optional stops at tool changes
  • Property to toggle on/off automatic spindle gear changes
  • Property to set a spindle gear change crossover speed
  • Property to toggle between French and English for the output of comments and messages
  • Property to toggle on/off lowercase support for comments
  • Property to set the rapid rate used for operation time calculations
  • Property to toggle on/off the automatic creation of sub-programs for patterns
  • Property to toggle between 4 digit and 8-digit program IDs
  • Property to toggle on/off the output of the tool list in the program header
  • Property to toggle between relative or absolute coordinates for IJKs
  • Property to toggle between automatic tool changer or manual tool changes
  • Property to toggle between M30 and M99 for program termination
  • Property to toggle between returning to home or going to parking position at program end
  • Properties to set X- and Y-coordinates for parking position
  • Property to convert from feed expressed per min. to feed expressed per second
  • Property to inverse Z direction convention
  • Property to disable output of all coolant codes

This post processor is available here:

https://www.solidcad.ca/solidcad-generic-post-processors-download/

Customizing the Inventor Marking Menu

By Shannon Lundrigan, Technical Specialist MFG,  at SolidCAD

A few years ago, Autodesk introduced context-sensitive radial menus called Marking Menus, in Inventor. These menus provide a quick and visual way for users to select the most commonly used commands in each environment. Over the years every-day users have no doubt become quite familiar with these menus and the available commands, but did you know you can customize it?

By default, Autodesk has placed what they believe to be the most common commands in this radial menu however, you know as well as I do that from company to company and even desk to desk, everyone uses Inventor differently. The following are the quick and easy steps to customize this menu.

How to do it:

On the Tools tab in the Options pane, the “Customize” button will open the dialog box that lets you modify the 8 commands in the radial menu for a given environment and associated sub-environment. From 2D Sketch to Weldment and everything in between, you can put your favourite commands right at the tip of your mouse pointer.

Choose the environment and sub-environment you wish to customize the menu for. Next, select one of the eight radial menu options that you want to change (in this example we are changing the “Pattern Component” command in the standard Assembly environment).

In the menu on the right, search or scroll down to the command you want to add and simply click on it to replace the selected option (iProperties, in this example). It’s as easy as that!

Also; starting in 2018 Inventor began giving users the option to migrate these (and all other) custom user interface settings when you upgrade to newer releases. So, you no longer need to worry about starting from scratch!

Why is it called the “Marking Menu”?

In addition to customizing where your favourite commands are on the right click menus, did you know you can also right-click-drag to the command, without ever actually seeing the menu? The pointer will create a “mark” as you drag your mouse to the location of your desired command, as shown below. This will require some practice but could become quite handy over time when the location of the commands in the radial menu becomes second-nature.

 

PART 3 : Change Management (ECR, ECN, and ECO)

By Shaya Ghanbar, PLM Project Manager at SolidCAD

 

This is the third in a three-part series of Fusion Lifecycle videos. In this video, we will focus on Change Management with a specific focus on Engineering Change Orders.

In the previous video, we saw that the Bill-of-Materials was automatically extracted and transferred to Fusion Lifecycle for additional analysis, modification, export and so on. At a future point in time, someone may recognize a problem with an item in the Bill of Materials and wants to initiate a change. In Fusion Lifecycle, they can log a Problem Report. The Problem Report flows through a structured workflow becoming an Engineering Change Request(ECR) and then an Engineering Change Order (ECO).

When the ECO is approved, Fusion Lifecycle pushes the information back to Vault, where the impacted assembly is changed to a Work-in-Progress state. Designers can then make the necessary design changes and Release the revised assembly.