Tebis 3.5 for manufacturing

17 November 2014

Last month, Al Dean took a look at the tools inside Tebis to assist with design. This month, he concludes with a look at what Tebis has for those looking to take those parts into production using a variety of methods

Product Tebis 3.5
Company name Tebis
Price on application

We covered the design related tools in Tebis last month. If you missed it, then perhaps a quick recap is in order to get you up to speed.

Tebis has full support for tombstone machining

Tebis is, unashamedly, a surface-based system and one that works, for the most part, without history. Yes, there are areas where you can track the history of your operations, but these are few and far between and chosen when it makes the most sense.

Instead of relying on a history-based approach, the development efforts are placed on giving you a set of tools that lets you take data from a wide variety of sources and prepares it for manufacturing — whether that’s tooling design, adaptation for machining or any of the many areas that the system is used in.

This month, however, we’ll be looking at how the system handles the process of taking that 3D data and preparing the numerically controlled processes that produce it.

Let’s start with the basics, in terms of the tools that apply to all areas of the system, then start to investigate the options and add-ons and how they all work together.

Base layer of tools

If you’ve ever investigated in a CAM solution, you’ll be familiar with the modularity that’s pretty much ubiquitous. After all, if you have a specific set of machines and capabilities, why licence the software that you don’t actually need? If you’re just running a 3 axis, then you don’t need to shell out for 3+2 or 5, do you?

That said, Tebis takes a slightly different approach, giving you all the commonly required tools you need, then adds in those special requirements. A good example is posts, something that’s always interesting when talking to CAM vendors.

Tebis takes the approach that its posts are configured for all machine actions from the very outset. That means that you don’t need to update them if you upgrade your machines or your CAM capability. Once you have the post for a 3 axis machine, the same will work if you start using 3+2 or 5 axis capabilities more.

To learn a little more about how Tebis works in a manufacturing environment, let’s step through some of the most common tasks and look at where the system differentiates itself, either through unique tools or how it makes processes and workflows more efficient.

Job set-up

A good place to start is the process associated with job set-up — it’s these types of areas that can either make or break a workflow.

As we covered last month, Tebis includes a wealth of tools for geometry creating and perhaps more importantly, editing. These allow you to import the geometry of your part and prepare it for manufacturing — whether that’s machining from a casting, a billet or to work up a mould stack.

Tebis has an interesting set of tools to help with this process. As you’d expect, it has the standard billet definition tools that give you a rectangular or cylindrical stock model quickly. Alongside this there are also tools available to add in models for cast forms (either using an adapted surface model or a laser scanned model such as STL). It also has an interesting tool for set-up of prototype model builds when using sheets of foam or chemiwood.

The system can pull in a list of preset sizes and give you a stack up on sheets that will provide enough material to machine the part.

It goes a little further in that you can adapt any of these sheets to save on material or to use off-cuts.

Lastly, the workfl ow closes out by giving you a list of materials required and a build sheet so you know what you need and where they need to be placed in the stack.

Moving from 3 axis to 5 axis

This is a particularly interesting set of tools, especially in the CNC machine tool industry which has seen rapid sales growth in recent months.

Tebis includes a full range of 3 and 5 Axis trimming tools with the options you need, such as restricting to specific geometry

What it boils down to is that Tebis has a set of capabilities that allows you to work with 3 axis operations, create all the operations you need, set-up the part and run it. But then, if you have to shift workload to a different machine or buy in new 5 axis capability, it allows you to reuse that data efficiently and effectively.

It also pays dividends if you’ve got team members who are experienced with 3 axis, but are getting to grips with the more complex 5 axis way of working. It lets you develop the operations with shorter cutter lengths and then wrap them up into different set-ups and cut approaches.

Tombstone machining

On the subject of multiple set-ups, there’s an often ignored area of machining that Tebis has a good handle on — namely tombstone machining and multiple part set-up.

Both are integrated into the same set of tools and allow you to either layout the machining of multiples of the same part or to collect together multiple different parts into a single set of operations.

As you’d expect from these tools, they can be optimised by cutter/tool (to reduce tool changes), by direction or vector of cut or by specific groups. Your selection of the best approach will depend (as you’d imagine) on the job at hand, but all of the tools are there to assist with ensuring that the toolpath sent to the machine is as optimal as possible.

Automation with Automill

While the manual creation of NC programs is a daily part of every user’s workflow, there are many occasions where it might be preferable to add in some form of automation of the whole process.

There are many instances where a company has a specific set of toolpaths, cutters and operations that match up with specific forms and features. Here, I’m thinking about where a company produces variants of the same type of component.

The topology might change between jobs (such as dimensions, thread sizes etc.) but the core operations required to manufacture each variant are effectively common.

This issue then becomes one of capacity and the odious task of repetitive work — the knowledge is there and formalised, but each job, traditionally, needs to be manually programmed from scratch.

To solve this bottleneck, Tebis introduced the Automill module. The idea is that with a defined set of 2.5D features (bosses, pockets, holes, taps etc.), it’s possible to define all of the toolpaths required to process a part in advance by developing and storing a set of manufacturing templates that can be applied to the specific geometry of each part as it is required.

Of course, unless you’re very lucky, these types of automation routines won’t handle 100 per cent of your programming job each time — and to be honest, expecting that would be unrealistic and missing the point somewhat.

The goal is to take common tasks and those common operations amongst your product range or jobs and automate their creation — accelerating the time to completion.

3 and 5 axis trimming

Of course, machining is just one application of CNC operations.

Tebis includes full machine simulation, essentially when you’re working with complex simultaneous 5 axis machining

Another area that’s seeing focus from some of the more advanced vendors is the trimming of sheet forms — that interest being driven by the growth in the option of composites in a much wider spread of industries than has traditionally been the case.

Tebis includes all the tools you’d need to carry out this type of work in both a 3 and 5 axis environment ranging from standard items such as extracting edges, edge surfaces (particularly key for 5 axis operations on thicker materials) then moves into more advanced areas such as tweaking toolpaths and locking down machine motion to get the best results.

In conclusion

The Tebis application, as found on the market now, is an incredibly rich set of tools that covers the full spectrum of design for manufacturing activities, then into the realms of machine programing.

There is no disputing that the current incarnation of the user interface, which has clear roots in UNIX, may not chime well with younger or less experienced users that have grown up in a Windows-based environment.

The good news is that, as we’ve shown, Tebis is addressing this in the coming months with a pretty radical overhaul of the user interface. It retains the power and unique properties of the system, but delivers it in a more modern manner.

Yes, it’s still not all ribbons and tabs, but it looks fresh, is intuitive and puts all the tools you need to conduct your work right were you need them.

Even before that work is done, you have a system that’s powerful across a spread of tasks and industries. There are very few systems on the market that cover design to manufacture in the way that Tebis does and the more deeply you look at the system, the clearer the picture becomes.

That of a CAD/CAM system that handles all of the major tasks with ease, but fleshes that out with a set of tools that are rich and which display a clear understanding of what the user needs.

Bringing the Tebis user experience up-to-date

As you’ll no doubt have noticed in this and last month’s look at Tebis, the user interface is a strange beast, particularly if you’ve not experienced working with UNIX -based systems in the past.

Tebis window dialog

The look and feel of Tebis is something that’s been driven by not only its historical roots, but also where it’s used — find me another system that has an ‘in-UI’ keyboard and I’ll find you one that’s intended to be used in a shopfloor environment as well as the design office.

Realising that while the current UI is perfectly suited to existing users, Tebis has recognised that for potential new users, it might be a sticking point — particularly when they evaluate it alongside more recently developed systems (remember, Tebis’ roots are three decades old).

What the team has done over the last year or so, is to revisit the user experience and modernise it.

Tebis window workspaces

As you can see from the screenshots here, they’ve managed to make it look much more current and modern, but without sacrificing all of the functionality and usability that’s evolved to date.

The new user interface is to be delivered with the Tebis version 4.0. The version is expected to be released to the market around the middle of 2015.

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