Re: Automatic Tool Path Generation

From: Fundacio ASCAMM - Dept. Enginyeria (
Date: Tue Feb 03 1998 - 11:45:34 EET

At 09.10 2/2/98 -0500, you wrote:
>I have heard about software packages that use STL files to generate tool
>paths automatically. Is anyone familiar with commercially available
>that can be used for that purpose?
>What I need is a way to automatically create tool paths for finish machining
>(where you use RP to make a near-net shape part and CNC to finish the
>part to tolerance). I am working on an approach whereby you use SLS to
>create a part that is slightly larger than the desired final product and
then use
>an STL file to create tools paths for finish machining. I can envision an
>approach where you could use a "beam-offset" method for creating the tool
>paths (much like you would use for laser beam width compensation on a SLS or
>SLA machine) and start out, say, 30 thousandths of an inch from the final
>desired dimensions and work in at 5 thousandths increments.
>If someone knows of some currently available tools that could help me out,
>be appreciative. Otherwise, I'll have to create my own software tools.
>Dr. Brent Stucker
>Assistant Professor
>University of Rhode Island
>Dept. of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
>Gilbreth Hall, 2 East Alumni Ave.
>Kingston, RI 02881
>ph: (401)874-5187
>fax: (401)874-5540

Dear Brent,

There are several commercial CAM programs that generate tool paths
I don't know what is the accuracy you desire to obtain but I can talk you
about, at least, a pair of software packages I've used successfully.

>From Delcam, PowerMILL is a program oriented to this porpouse. It reads STL
(binary or ascii) and you can generate tool paths fully automatically. It's
oriented to die and mould makers. This program, in overview, has a lot of
tool path patterns and options and it's very safe and accurate. In the
other hand, sometimes it's a bit slow and always it's a bit expensive (
about $18000 one licence on Windows NT ). You can find more information in

I've been testing a demo version of DeskProto by Delf Spline Systems.
Althoug you I wasn't able to generate large programs ( due to it was a demo
version ) it worked quiet well and it also had several options to control
de tool path generation. It works directly with STL files and it's faster,
easier and, of course, cheaper than PowerMILL (about $1400). This program
is oriented to prototype milling and due to it hasn't a big strategy
library (in fact, it only has one). You will find more information in :

For your information I've got to say :'be careful with the fully automatic
generation of tool paths' beacause it often involves an additonal dificulty
to modify that paths or obtain other special machining strategies. It's
only solved with the top level CAM programs.
If you need some other special features, I'm still programming my own CAM
program based in STL files oriented to obtain and optimize CAM programs in
High Speed Milling on hardened steel .. but that's other history.

Other CAM programs I know but I've not used:

        Tebis, WorkNC, Cammand, SolidCAM, Gibbs, Surfcam, Mastercam, ..

Best regards,

                                        John C. Marin
                                        ASCAMM Tec. Dep.

Juan Carlos Marín
Dep. Enginyeria
Fundació ASCAMM Centre Tecnològic
Tel:+34 3 5800426
FAX:+34 3 5801102

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