Refining Toolpaths in Creo CAD-CAM Software
Written By: Cat McClintock

You probably don’t need a CAD blog to tell you that, sooner or later, the model you’ve toiled over for hours will need to be manufactured. And while everybody seems enthralled with additive manufacturing these days, many designs will still require the drilling and milling of traditional subtractive machining.

In Creo CAD-CAM software, you now have more options for defining and viewing toolpaths.

In Creo CAD-CAM software, you now have more options for defining and viewing toolpaths.

For anyone using Creo, those manufacturing processes can be defined and visualized with computer aided manufacturing (CAM) extensions like Creo Complete Machining and Creo Prismatic and Multi-Surface Milling. With these add ons, you can specify the operations (tools and toolpaths) that will be used to machine the finished part, or make final finishing operations on cast or 3D printed parts right from within Creo (no export or import required). In fact, you can even see animations of the toolpaths and see material removal.

Defining and optimizing the manufacturing process within Creo can help you make the most of your models and manufacturing. Best part? If, as inevitably happens, a design change has to be made to the 3D design, the seamless integration and associativity between the CAD and CAM aspects of Creo will save you a significant amount of rework and reduce the opportunity for error. Creo will recalculate the toolpath for you and you can just click play to display it.

Of course, if you use Creo’s CAD-CAM extensions today, you know that none of this is new.

A CAD-CAM Simulation Problem—and Solution

One challenge with these toolpath animations, though. They don’t give you the complete picture. That’s because you can’t see the material that’s removed during the operation. In fact, to simulate material removal in Creo, you need to launch a different application.

“Up to now, when executing the material removal simulation, what is happening is that you open a separate window that shows you the parametric and solid tools removing material,” says Jose Coronado, product manager at PTC. “It’s helpful, but it would be better if you could see the material removed dynamically, within Creo—that gives you a very different sense of what’s going on.”

That’s why PTC recently partnered with ModuleWorks to present material removal simulation directly within Creo.

“Now you can actually see the material removal on the stock (blank, workpiece) as you play back the toolpath,” says Coronado. “With this visualization functionality, you can analyze, after every tool movement, and understand what material should be removed in the next operation—without switching between windows.”

Plus, you can compare the model with the finished job, see how close it is to tolerances, find collisions and gouges, and even continue to dynamically work with the part while the simulation is underway (think viewing cross sections with clipping planes).

“You can really examine the impact of whatever the tooling is doing to your model as you’re doing it,” Coronado says. “You can inspect it at a much deeper level than you could have before.

In short, the ModuleWorks integration gives you more tools to further refine toolpaths. You can see right away where it needs improvement...and that leads to better quality manufacturing processes, in a short amount of time.

What’s This Mean to Your Current Software?

If you already use Creo CAD-CAM extensions, you’re might be familiar with VERICUT, the simulation software  used previously. The new ModuleWorks integration replaces VERICUT in Creo Complete Machining and Creo Prismatic and Multi-Surface Milling. As for the rest of your CAD-CAM software, it remains the same as it had in the past (3-axis milling, tool and fixture libraries, etc.)

No Extra Licensing Needed

You’ll find the new simulation capabilities included with every CAM extension, starting with Creo 3.0 M090. It requires no additional licensing.

Learn more

You can read more about the ModuleWorks integration in this conversation thread on the Creo Community page. Or find out more reasons to start working with PTC's 3D CAD solution by downloading our free eBook, Top 7 Reasons to Design with Creo.

Download the eBook, Top 7 Reasons to Design with Creo

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About the Author Cat McClintock

Cat McClintock edits the Creo and Mathcad blogs for PTC.  She has been a writer and editor for 15+ years,  working for CAD, PDM, ERP, and CRM software companies. Prior to that, she edited science journals for an academic publisher and aligned optical assemblies for a medical device manufacturer. She holds degrees in Technical Journalism, Classics, and Electro-Optics. She loves talking to PTC customers and learning about the interesting work they're doing and the innovative ways they use the software.