In CETIM's trials, the component machined with data from PowerMill had the best surface finish.

A study by the French technical center CETIM ranked PowerMill from Delcam, Birmingham, England (www.delcam.com), as the best CAM system for high-speed machining. Tests looked at both the machining time needed to complete a demonstration part and the quality of the final surface finish.

CETIM asked a number of CAM suppliers to participate in the trials and six companies experienced in high-speed machining agreed to take up the challenge. To ensure accurate comparisons, the toolpaths submitted by the companies were all run on CETIM's Huron's EX 14 machine tool using the programmer's selection from the same set of cutting tools.

Results varied dramatically. All participants submitted roughing and semifinishing toolpaths, but two companies were unable to complete the programming of the finish machining in the allotted time.

Delcam's toolpaths completed the machining in the shortest time. Three other companies that completed the part took around one-third longer over the three machining operations. The surface quality of the Delcam part was the only one rated “very good.” One of the other parts was rated “good,” with the other two completed components judged “good to medium.”

Recognizing that CAM products are regularly upgraded with new manufacturing strategies, CETIM intends to launch a new series of tests to compare these new machining features and to assess a wider sample group of CAM suppliers.