CNC Simulator Pro

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12.3.5. Tutorial Add/Edit Custom Lathe tools

 
In the world of CNC simulation, being able to customize and create your own lathe tools can greatly enhance your work efficiency and precision. This tutorial will guide you through the process of adding and editing custom lathe tools in SimCam, a feature within CNC Simulator Pro. You'll learn how to create a tool from scratch or modify existing ones, understand the importance of the tool definition file, and even test your tools within the simulation environment. Whether you're a seasoned machinist or new to the CNC world, this guide will provide you with the skills to better tailor your toolset to your specific projects. Let's dive in and start creating!
 
 
SimCam stores user lathe tools in a document called ToolDefs.simcam, located in the LatheTools subfolder of the CNC Simulator Pro installation folder. If you modify this file, ensure to save it in a custom folder separate from the CNC Simulator Pro installation folder to prevent it from being overwritten during program updates. It's also prudent to maintain backups of all files to avoid loss of work.
 
The ToolDefs.simcam file comes preloaded with demo tools, facilitating a smooth start for users.
 
To craft your own tools, you have the option to either create a new tool definition file from scratch (be aware this will erase all the demo tools), or you can append new tools to the existing ones.
 
To create a fresh tool definition file, navigate to Create Lathe Tool Def File under Misc in the Tools menu.
 
 
After adding your tools (see below), click Save SimCam file As... from the File menu and locate the LatheTools folder. Overwrite the current file and you're all set. Note that this method will replace the demo tools.
 
To augment or modify current tools, follow the instructions below.
 
Press F2 to launch the Inventory browser. Choose My lathe tools and click Edit.
 
 
 
The tool definition file will open in SimCam.
 
Open the Layers form by clicking on the Layers button at the bottom left of the SimCam window.
 
 
Each tool is defined within its unique layer.
 
To add a new tool, click on the small gear icon in the Layers form toolbar, then select Tool Definition.
 
 
This generates a new layer for your tool design.
 
Scroll to the last layer (the new one) and click on the gear icon to adjust the layer parameters.
 
 
Name your tool by typing into the Operation Name textbox.
 
 
We'll begin by designing an external tool. Click External in the Tool Type box.
 
 
Choose the colors for the Insert and the Holder.
 
 
Proceed by selecting the External Tool tab.
 
Input values for the insert thickness, tool holder, and nose radius.
 
 
Click OK to close the layer parameters. It's now time to sketch the tool.
 
The tool comprises two contours on the same layer: the insert (first contour) and the holder (second contour).
 
To draw the tool, make the new layer the only selected and visible one by holding the CTRL key and left-clicking the layer information field.
 
 
You should now see a blank SimCam document.
 
Crucially, draw the tool insert downwards, regardless of the tool's mounting position in the machine.
 
In this tutorial, we'll shape the tool insert as a simple rounded square.
 
(Though not utilized in this document, you must add a Guide layer and a workpiece.)
 
Navigate to [More] - [Contour] - [Rectangle] in the SimCam menu.
 
Click the coordinate system origin (the mouse will snap to it), then click again 10 mm down and 10 mm to the right. You'll see a 10 x 10 mm square (the orange square is your tool insert contour) and a larger gray square that can be ignored.
 
 
The tool will be mirrored so that you can see how it would look like in a machine where the tool comes from above.
 
Also, please note that we draw all tools in millimeters regardless of the unit type you will be using on the machine. If you are used to working in inches, you will need to multiply all inch values by 25.4 before drawing the tool.
 
Let us round the corners to 0.8 millimeters.
 
Hover over the contour until it highlights, then click near the corner where you want to round it. Select [Modify] - [Fillet] from the displayed menu and enter 0.8 in the radius box at the bottom of the SimCam window.
 
 
Repeat this process for all four corners.
 
 
Our insert is now complete! Let's move on to drawing the holder.
 
Click [More] - [Contour] - [Follow mouse].
 
 
Click around to shape the holder. In this tutorial, we'll make arbitrary points without worrying too much about the holder's measurements. However, if you have specific measurements, you'll need to click or type in accurate coordinates.
 
 
Each contour has its own origin. The origin of the tool holder determines where the tool will be placed in the machine tool clamp, represented by the gray rectangle. Let's reposition it to a more suitable location.
 
Highlight the tool holder contour and select [Modify] - [Origin] from the displayed menu. Shift the origin of the tool holder contour to a position similar to the one shown in the image below.
 
 
Reopen the layers form and scroll down until you find your tool. Note the layer number as it will be your new tool number. In our case, it's 47.
 
 
Don't forget to save your document.
 
To activate the changes to the tool definition file, you'll need to restart CNC Simulator Pro.
 
Now, let's test our new tool.
 
 
Hit play and observe your new tool in action!
 
 
Before we conclude this tutorial, here are a few additional tips.
 
If you inadvertently draw the holder before the insert, the simulator will misinterpret the holder as the insert and vice versa. However, this is easily rectified. Simply click on the insert contour and select [Order] - [Move up] from the menu. This action will reorder the contours and fix the issue.
 
 
If you want your tool to have a different tool number, select the tool layer in the layers form and click the up and down arrows in the toolbar to shift the tool to the desired index position.
 
 
For instance, moving the layer to the top will assign it tool number 1.
 
If you're planning to create internal tools and drills, we recommend clicking on the gear button on one of the demo tools to learn how they were defined. For a drilling tool, you don't need to draw anything; entering the parameters for the layer is sufficient.
 
 
For internal tools, you only need to draw the insert. The simulator will auto-generate the holder (a basic rectangle) based on the parameters you provide.
 
That's it! Best of luck, and enjoy creating your own custom lathe tools.
 
In conclusion, creating and editing custom lathe tools in SimCam is a process that offers a high degree of customization and control. This tutorial walked you through the steps necessary to create an external tool, complete with holder and insert. Remember that the process can be adjusted for internal tools and drills, and that the tools you create can be saved and tested within the CNC Simulator Pro. Practice, patience, and a keen attention to detail will help you master this process, leading to a more tailored and efficient working environment in your CNC projects. Enjoy the creative process and the satisfaction that comes from using your own custom tools. Happy machining!