Gouge and Stock Collision Detection

Failsafe Programming: Solving The Problems That Keep Shop Owners Awake At Night

No worries here. Every program is verified so I know what I've got.

Under no circumstances will Prospector allow a program be sent to a machine without first checking the program for part gouges and collisions of the tool assembly with stock.

Prospector rigorously enforces strict verification of all cutter paths created in Prospector, edited in Prospector or imported from another CAM system. Every program is checked against the 3D part data to determine if the path is free of gouges. Next the program checks the tool assembly (holder, adapter, spindle...) for any possible collisions with stock. Until these verifications steps are performed, the operator can not run the program on the machine tool because the post processing function is disabled until the program is verified.

Program generation in Prospector consists of 2 separate phases:

  1. Generate the program by running as NC cutter path generator as separate thread(s) in the background.

  2. Analyze the cutter path created in step 1 to update the remaining stock model to reflect the effect of the program and simultaneously check for gouge and stock collisions.

The important point to understand about this process is that the NC engine that generates the cutter path has absolutely nothing to do with the verification of it. The verification process is done by an entirely different subsystem. In other words, the NC engine that generated the cutter path doesn't check it's own work.

Finding & Fixing Problem Programs

NC Program Tree Control in Prospector

The state of every program in the project is marked with a graphic symbol to the left of the program as it appears in the project tree control. These symbols lets you see at a glance what the status is of every program in the project. Of particular importance are these 2 symbols:

  A green ball indicates the program has been inspected by Prospector and does not gouge the part or collide with stock. It is ready to be post-processed and run on the machine. Green means good-to-go.

  This program gouge symbol indicates that this program will either gouge the part or cause a stock collision. This is a definite no-go until the issue is identified and rectified.

When a problem is detected, the features in Prospector helps can help you answer these questions:

  • What is the problem? Is it a part data gouge? A collision with stock?

  • What is the severity of the problem? By how much does is violate the part geometry?

  • Where is the problem? You will need to see exactly where on the cutter path the issue occurred in order to take remedial action.

The Program / Inspect feature presents a dialog to help you understand what is wrong with the program:

Each entry in the dialog presents problem in a clear and concise manner:

  • Is this a collision of the tool or tool assembly with stock or a part data gouge?

  • How bad did the tool gouge the stock?

  • Where exactly in the cutter path is each problem?

Clicking on any entry in the dialog graphically places the tool at the point in the cutter path where the next motion gouges:

In many cases, the Select Points feature can be used to mark the offending locations in the cutter path. Once selected, the points can be moved to correct the problem.

In the case of a stock collision, changing your tool assembly to use a longer extension can be tried to correct the problem. The verification feature lets you experiment with different assemblies to find the optimal choice for any program.

For shop owners and operators alike, the full-time gouge and stock collision feature of Prospector provides peace of mind that costly accidents just can't happen.

Checking Programs Created by Foreign CAM Systems

Prospector has the unique ability to import NC programs from other CAM systems. Once imported, the same verification process can be performed against these programs to check for problems. Once a file is imported, it can be verified, edited, assigned a tool assembly and post processed just as if the program had been generated by Prospector. Prospector can import the following cutter path data files:

  • .nci - NCI files are ASCII format files output by Mastercam®.

  • .pt - APT data files are ASCII format and can be generated by WorkNC, Cimatron, ProEngineer, Surfcam, Tebis, CATIA, Vericut and other popular CAM vendors.

  • .clf & .cl - CL data files are a binary format and typically conform the ISO standard.

If you're current CAM system has you unnerved, Prospector can be the solution to finding and fixing problem programs before they start costing you big money.