How to add and edit custom lathe tools in SimCam.
User lathe tools are saved in a SimCam document named ToolDefs.simcam in the LatheTools subfolder of the CNCSimulator Pro installation folder. If you do changes to this file, please put it in a custom folder outside of the CNCSimulator Pro installation folder so that it will not be overwritten at the next program update. Also make sure you keep backups of all files to avoid losing work.
This file comes preloaded with demonstration tools to make it easy for users getting started.
If you want to create your own tools, you can either create a new tool definition file from scratch (you will then lose all the demonstration tools) or you can add new tools to the existing ones.
To create a new tool definition file from scratch, select "Create Lathe Tool Def File" from the "File" menu.
Then add your tools (see below) and when you are done, select "Save SimCam file As..." from the "File" menu and navigate to the LatheTools folder. Then simply overwrite the current file and you are done. Remember that by using this method you will lose the demonstration tools.
To add and/or edit current tools use the following method instead.
Press "F2" on the keyboard to open the "Inventory browser". Then select "My lathe tools" and click the "Edit" button.
Now the tool definition file will be opened in SimCam.
Open the "Layers" form by click on the "Layers" button in the lower left corner of the SimCam window.
As you can see, each tool is defined in its own separate layer.
Let's add our own tool.
Click on the little gear button in the "Layers" form toolbar. Then click on "Tool Definition".
This creates a new layer that we can draw our new tool on.
Scroll down to the last layer (our new layer) and click on the gear button to open the parameters for the layer.
Name your new tool by entering the name in the "Operation Name" textbox.
Let's start by creating an external tool. Click "External" in the "Tool Type" box.
Now select colors for the "Insert" and the "Holder".
We continue by clicking the "External Tool" tab.
Enter values for the thickness of the cutter insert, the tool holder and the nose radius.
Click on "OK" to close the layer parameters. It is time to start drawing the tool.
The tool consists of two contours on the same layer. The first contour you draw will represent the insert and the second one will be the holder.
Now make the new layer the only selected and visible one by holding down the CTRL (control) key on the keyboard and left-clicking the layer information field.
You should now see a blank SimCam window.
Important! Draw the tool insert downwards independent of how you will mount the tool in the machine.
For this tutorial, the tool insert will be a simple rounded square.
(In later versions, you will need to add a Guide layer and a workpiece, even though the workpiece is not used in this document.)
In the SimCam menu, click [More] - [Contour] - [Rectangle].
Click the coordinate system origin (the mouse will snap to this point) and then make another click 10 mm down and 10 mm to the right. You will see a 10 by 10 mm square and also another larger gray square that you can ignore for now.
The orange square is your tool insert contour.
The tool will be mirrored so that you can see how it would look like in a machine where the tool comes from above.
Also please note that we draw all tools in millimeters regardless of the unit type you will be using on the machine. If you are used to working in inches, you will need to multiply all inch values by 25.4 before drawing the tool.
Let us round the corners to 0.8 millimeters.
Move the mouse cursor over the contour until it highlights and then make a click near the corner where you want to round the corner. Click [Modify] - [Fillet] in the menu shown and enter 0.8 in the radius box at the bottom of the SimCam window.
Repeat on all four corners.
Our insert is done! Let's continue by drawing the holder.
Click [More] - [Contour] - [Follow mouse].
Click your way around to create the holder. For this tutorial we just click some points not caring too much about the measurements of the holder. In your case, you may have measured up a holder and you will then have to click or type in real coordinates.
Each contour has its own origin. The origin of the tool holder defines where the tool will be placed in the machine tool clamp. That clamp is represented by the gray rectangle. Now let us move it to a more proper position.
Highlight the tool holder contour and click [Modify] - [Origin] from the menu shown. Move the origin of the tool holder contour to a position similar to the one shown in the picture below.
Open the layers form again and scroll down until you see your tool. Take a note of the layer number as it will be your new tool number. In our case, it is 35.
Now, save the document.
You will have to restart CNCSimulator Pro to enable the changes to the tool definition file.
Let's test our new tool.
Hit play and see your new tool in action!
Some final tips before we end this tutorial.
If you for some reason happen to draw the holder before the insert, the simulator will think that the holder is the insert and vice versa. There is an easy fix though. You simply click on the insert contour and select [Order] - [Move up] from the menu. This will move the insert contour up in the internal list of contours hence fixing the problem.
If you want your tool to have another tool number, simply select the tool layer in the layers form and click the up and down arrows in the toolbar to move the tool to the index position you want.
For example, moving the layer all the way to the top will give it tool number 1.
If you want to create internal tools and drills we suggest you click on the gear button on one of the demonstration tools to see how we defined them. When creating a drilling tool, you do not need to draw anything. It is enough to just enter the parameters for the layer.
For internal tools, you need only to draw the insert. The simulator will figure out how to draw the holder (a basic rectangle) from the parameters you enter.
That was all! Good luck and have fun making your own customized lathe tools.