Innovative PC-based CADCAM software for tubular metal fabricators who use SolidWorks CAD software, that enables them to reduce order processing and pre-production development time from hours to minutes, has been launched by the tube-bending machine builder Unison.
The software automatically extracts key manufacturing information, including tube specifications and CNC bending data, from both native SolidWorks models and common CAD file formats such as STEP, IGES, and ParaSolid. It can handle tube models with round (tube and bar), square, rectangular, oval or flat-sided oval cross-sections.
Unison has secured exclusive worldwide sales for the new software add-in – called TubeWorks – from its developer, 3DCompound Ltd, a company specialising in the development of third-party value-added products for the highly popular ‘SolidWorks’ mechanical design software. The company was founded by an accredited SolidWorks Elite Application Engineer with an extensive background in CAD and tube-bending technology. It produces a variety of innovative software tools, ranging from macros to fully integrated add-in modules, which enable SolidWorks users and their organisations to realise major savings in the time and capital cost of application-specific processes.
According to Alan Pickering, MD of Unison: “Automating the extraction of manufacturing data from CAD files helps bending machine users to create production-ready programs much more quickly and efficiently. TubeWorks will provide our customers with an enormous competitive advantage and is an important addition to our growing portfolio of software tools. As well as offering a smart solution for metal fabricators seeking to accelerate their request-for-quotation (RFQ) procedures, the software will help companies with in-house bending machines to reduce design-to-manufacturing times.”
3DCompound’s MD Ali Jani adds: “We chose Unison as a partner because its innovative culture matches well with our own. Unison’s all-electric tube bending machines are widely regarded as some of the best in the industry, enabling companies to push performance boundaries in metal tube fabrication. Our new TubeWorks add-in is designed with the same principles and for the same markets – we believe that the software provides users with a unique and powerful means of enhancing the productivity of their tube bending operations.”
The TubeWorks add-in is fully integrated into SolidWorks, allowing users to take full advantage of the CAD software’s powerful design functions, and eliminates the need for any additional standalone software for generating manufacturing data during the design, development and production of tubular parts. The add-in software is inherently intuitive and easy to use, requires no special training and can be mastered within 10 minutes.
In addition to its manufacturing data extraction capabilities, TubeWorks offers functions to further help users minimise the pre-production design time of machine-based tube bending. These include automated centreline creation through tubular geometry (for both round and non-round profiles) and automated conversion of imported tube models into native SolidWorks models for CLR (centreline radius) modification. The software also extensively automates the generation of 2D drawings, as well as the creation of reports for the YBC data that will be used to control the bending machine and for the XYZ coordinates of the modelled tube.
To maximise flexibility and ease of use, TubeWorks is fully functional in a multi-body part environment. A searchable tooling log enables users to quickly check the types of tools – such as bend former, mandrels, wiper dies, etc – that will be necessary for a particular bending operation, while a tooling recommendation function verifies whether a part can be produced using existing tools, or suggests suitable substitutes. The software also includes a useful tube length calculator, which evaluates the total length of tube that will be needed for fabricating the specific formed part.
A video demonstrating the key features of TubeWorks and highlighting the software’s ease of use can be viewed on Unison’s website at www.unisonltd.com/software/home/tube-works.html; Unison also offers on-demand WebEx demonstrations of TubeWorks to registered customers, via its website www.unisonltd.com.