Autodesk PowerShape for molds, tools, and complex parts

A quiet revolution has been taking place across manufacturing in recent years, especially in the field of machining molds, tools, and parts.
CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machines have become more advanced, with increased precision and control. The software behind these changes has started to utilize smart manufacturing techniques with the incorporation of cloud computing and integrated workflows.
Autodesk PowerShape is at the forefront of Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) software, with its innovative features and user-friendly interface. It has a good reputation with manufacturers specializing in high-speed machining, as it supports 3-axis, as well as 3+2 and 5-axis procedures.
This article explores why it is the ideal choice for manufacturers of molds, tools and intricate parts.

Why use PowerShape?

To put it simply, PowerShape is fast-becoming the industry standard CAM software. It’s a package that provides complete control from beginning to end of the machining process, allowing you to prepare parts for fabrication using solid, surface and mesh modeling.
As with most Autodesk CAD (Computer-Aided Design) and CAM offerings, it can be integrated with their other software, such as Fusion 360 and PowerMill, for an all-around design and CNC-machining solution.
PowerShape has a wide range of useful features that are designed to improve the manufacturing and machining process:
  • Import, edit and create additional geometry
Using the sketch and drawing tools, you can adapt your molds and parts, adding features or changing dimensions. This makes it easier to customize parts without having to completely redesign them. You can also use the constraint solver and predictive drawing features to automate parts of the process.
  • Automatically repair poor-quality, imported CAD drawings
If you receive CAD designs that have mistakes or defects, the built-in wizards will save you the time and effort of finding and correcting them. The software also uses diagnostic shading to highlight geometry conflicts such as undercuts.
  • Automatically generate complex surfaces and position with ease
The Smart Surfacer feature can generate a variety of surface geometries to suit your needs. PowerShape can mix solid, surface and mesh geometries on the same object, and you can apply cage morph tools to make it easier to place them.
  • Cloud connectivity for easy storage and collaboration
The Autodesk cloud allows you to save, store and share files remotely. This feature can be useful for your clients as they can upload designs and check on progress.
  • Friendly and helpful user support
Many Autodesk customers praise the support team that is always on hand to help with any user issues that may arise.
There are literally dozens of features that are useful for various types of machining, far too many to list here. For more information on the range of capabilities, have a look at the Autodesk website.

Applications of PowerShape

PowerShape is ideal for preparing complex parts, such as the 3D-printed marine components that RAMLAB manufacture. Based in Rotterdam, it uses the software along with PowerMill to make specialist customized parts, on-demand. The software, with its easy-to-use geometry editing tools, can create large 3D-printed parts such as propellers that exactly match the customer’s requirements. This has helped to revolutionize the marine industry, cutting costs of parts and minimizing production times.
Molds and dies can be created with ease and efficiency using the CAM software. The Chicago Mold Engineering Co. also uses both pieces of software to create plastic injection and compression molds. Their engineers praise the user-friendliness of the software, emphasizing how it has streamlined the production process. For instance, the engineering managers can now transfer files instantly to the shop floor operators with minimal translation problems, allowing them to get straight to work fabricating the molds.

The future of CNC machining

PowerShape and PowerMill are just the beginning of a revolution in the way machining is carried out. Expect to see further innovations such as improved automation, more-compact machines, and smarter technology behind the scenes.
The Industrial Internet of Things makes it easier than ever to monitor parameters like tool wear, which can be reduced by working out optimized tool paths in the software.
A major benefit of Autodesk’s range of CAM software is that the company regularly releases updates with new features that improve considerably on the previous version. This means that your business will get more and more efficient and productive over time without having to invest heavily in brand new software.

Ellie Rathbone

Social Media Marketing Specialist at Autodesk, managing all advanced manufacturing social channels across multiple platforms. Based in the UK.

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