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2018 Autodesk Powermill review with MTD

MTD was recently invited to the Autodesk manufacturing facility in Birmingham to talk about the 2018 release of PowerMIll, the expert CAM solution and get an update on the company since it acquired what was previously known as Delcam.

Talking us through the developments, Clinton Perry, Product Marketing Manager at Autodesk says: "PowerMill was originally conceived by Delcam and that company was acquired by Autodesk in February 2014 with the process being completed in August 2016. At that point the 2017 version was released and we fully integrated into the Autodesk family. This is good for our customers as we can offer a greater portfolio of solutions. Some things have changed but the people that work here are the same with the same technical support and development teams that both support customers and develop new products."

"Winding forward to today, we are releasing the 2018 version of Autodesk PowerMill and as you would expect from a flagship product, it's packed with bug fixes, enhancements and new functionality. The first thing customers will notice is the product looks different and this is because it now includes a ribbon interface. This gives better ease of use, functionality and reduces the number of toolbars on the screen. The aim of the ribbon is to shorten the learning curve for new users and also helps infrequent users by giving them access to commands they use on a daily basis."

"For existing users that are familiar with the product and they have already customised their toolbars, the 2018 version will recognise this and automatically update it for customers. This simplifies the transition from the previous version to 2018."

Regarding other new features, MR Perry says: "If we start with turning. We included turning functionality back last year in a direct response to customers using mill/turn centres. The 2018 version has seen this enhanced with turning tool paths collision checked, the toolpaths can also be edited, something else that was previously available with milling but not turning. We have better collision checking when rough machining and we have also added two new finishing strategies, one is a top rounding or filleting strategy and we have also introduced a new feature finishing strategy that is ideally suited to parts with nested pockets."

With regard to 5-axis machining, Mr Perry says: "We haven't neglected this area and there are two specific areas that we have enhanced. The first is dynamic machining control (DMC). This 3D representation of the machine tool allows users to edit a 3-axis toolpath so it can be applied to a 5-axis machine. Whilst this has been around for a number of years, the 2018 version allows customers to edit localised areas of the toolpath."

"In addition, PowerMill ultimate has provided functionality for machining blisks, blades and impellers. This BBI module has also been enhanced in the 2018 version. In essence the toolpaths that were locked to those features have now been unlocked, so we can apply them to non-blisk geometries."

There are also updates to simulation and stock removal modules and much more. In essence, the company has a raft of new features that make the 2018 version the best release yet. Another notification comes in the new subscription model that the company has employed. For existing customers that use the licence, they purchase a perpetual license and continue using the software and as long as they re-new their maintenance. For new customers looking at Autodesk, they will be looking at buying a subscription. From a benefit perspective, this lowers the price entry point, gives extra flexibility to buy more software or reduce the subscription as it is required.

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