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Alibre CAM 101

Horizontal VS Parallel

Many machining operations in Alibre CAM use the term horizontal in their name. This refers to the fact that the resulting toolpath is largely confined to horizontal, planar slices through the part and stock geometry. The number and spacing of layers is controllable by the user. The XY Plane, in terms of the MCS (machine coordinate system) is considered to be horizontal. See figure 1

Figure 1 - Horizontal-type toolpath

The other common descriptor for Alibre CAM machining operations is parallel. This refers to the fact that resulting toolpath is largely confined to imaginary surfaces that are parallel-to and offset-from the top of the part. The top of the part is the one aligned with the positive Z axis of the MCS (machine coordinate system). Most toolpaths intended as finishing operations are of this type including: parallel finishing, radial machining, spiral machining, 3D pocketing, etc. See figure 2

Figure 2 - Parallel-type toolpath

Part Orientation

Preparation for machining operations in Alibre CAM is eased considerably if parts are oriented appropriately in Alibre Design's workspace. For 2.5 axis and 3 axis machining, sketches should be created in the positive quadrant of the XY Plane; and then (for example) extruded downward, in the negative Z direction (see figure 3). For 4 axis machining, parts should be aligned to the X Axis and proceed in the positive direction (see figure 4). These part orientations take advantage of the default settings in Alibre CAM; and respect the fact that the tool always approaches the part from the negative Z direction (note cutting tools shown in figures).

Figure 3 - easy orientation for 2.5 and 3 axis parts

Figure 4 - easy orientation for 4th axis parts

Helpful Hint

To improve the visibility of Alibre CAM toolpaths, make your parts slightly transparent. This allows you to see toolpaths that correspond to internal part geometry; and are otherwise difficult to see. Parts can be made transparent by selecting the Color Properties� command on the Edit menu from within Part workspaces; and then adjusting the Opacity value. See figure 5

Figure 5 - Part made transparent for toolpath visibility

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