Delcam Offers Free Estimating Software

01.07.2006

Delcam has introduced a free estimating program, PowerSHAPE-e, for toolmakers and other sub-contractors that need to produce accurate quotes from CAD models. The software, which can be downloaded from ...

... www.powershape-e.com, can be used for all types of toolmaking – moulds for plastics, rubber, ceramics or glass, and casting equipment, press tools and patterns for metal components. It will also help sub-contract machinists to estimate the time needed to manufacture either short-run prototypes or longer production runs.

The PowerSHAPE-e download incorporates Delcam’s PS-Exchange data translation software and so can read in files from all the main CAD systems, including CATIA, UG, Pro/Engineer, IDEAS, SolidWorks, Autodesk Inventor and Solid Edge, as well as neutral formats such as IGES and STEP. Once imported, the models can be marked up with any necessary measurements. They can also be analysed with colour mapping tools that show the draft angle or wall thickness across the model. Exact values can be displayed at any point as required. Other tools include curvature analysis, which can be used to determine the size of cutting tool needed to machine each feature in the model, and smoothness shading to check the overall quality of the design.

Model compare functionality is included so that any changes to the model introduced during the negotiations can be identified and highlighted quickly. Such changes can cause major problems for the sub-contractor if his quote is based on an out-of-date version of the component.

The greatest pressure facing the toolmaking industry today is the demand for faster delivery of new products. For smaller companies looking to expand their businesses, one consequence is the need to generate more quotes and to supply them more quickly. Obviously, the sooner the customer receives the quote, the sooner he can place his order. In the current climate, few customers are now prepared to wait for a supplier that fails to deliver his quote on time. However, this need for speed can easily lead to costly mistakes.

If the quote is placed too high, the business will be lost to a competitor that has priced the work more accurately. Even worse, if the quote is too low, the sub-contractor may end up having to do the work at a loss or become involved in lengthy, and possibly bitter, negotiations to try to push the price up to a realistic level.

Even though CAD models can contain more information than 2D drawings, it can still be difficult to determine accurately the amount of work that will be needed to produce the tool or the part. There can also be problems if the data supplied is incomplete and needs considerable work to add extra details, such as missing fillets or draft surfaces. Unless sufficient time is built into the quote to cover this extra work, an apparently profitable job can quickly turn into a loss-making project.

PowerSHAPE-e will help sub-contractors overcome these problems, by giving quicker and more thorough understanding of CAD models supplied by customers. Once the analysis has been completed, the work needed to correct any problems found can be incorporated in the quote.

With PowerSHAPE-e, quotes will be able to be prepared more quickly and more accurately, with the required level of profitability incorporated. The analysis tools can also help improve the service that the sub-contractor can offer his customer since they ensure that any problems with the CAD models are identified and corrected before machining work starts. This allows the customer to meet his need for the fastest possible move into full production and avoids the costs that may otherwise be incurred in reworking the job.

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