Quiet forums here.
My continuing exploring/hacking/playing this weekend, with lots of coffee, says the answer appears to be "Yes, but..."
- Yes, Schools Edition can do NC, but there is almost no included documentation on how to use it.
- Also it appears only 3, 4, 5 -axis milling operations are possible. (I don't see how to do any NC lathe functions.)
- Oh, and you need to define how your mill works so Pro/E can figure out how to do toolpaths. It appears PTC has a library of machine definitions, but it's behind that locked door of Premium Paid Support, so good luck with that.
- There is a help system, but it is written in generalities, with no simple step-by-step tutorials.
Is there more PTC Academy tutorial material available for doing NC, like you have to do to get the initial product licensing?
I split the mill definition question off into a separate post/thread:
It looks like there is a long ways to go to do much of anything, from looking at several tech tips videos on PTC's website.
... so I have to model the milling clamps and spindle head before anything else, so the toolpath generator knows to avoid them?
Also I see hints about a "post-processor", which is what I assume builds the actual G-coded output. The specs on the above mill says it is compliant with various NC encodings, but I have not gotten far enough with just the toolpath generation to even touch that.
I know some about NC milling, though I am not a trained expert as such. I do know enough to do a test run at low speed with my hand over the E-stop, in case the toolpath was done wrong. End mills can be expensive to replace...
The most common method used by Middle and High Schools for CNC cutting is to export an STL file from Creo Elements/Pro. Attached is a document with instructions how to do this.
CNC machine tools should be supplied with post processing software set up with details about the machine including work envelope, tooling, speeds and feeds etc. The post procesing software will import the STL file and guide you through choosing the most suitable machining strategy, calculate cutter tool paths and control the machine during the cutting process.
Schools Edition - For colleges who may need more control over the machining process, the Schools Edition has a fully featured 2.5D NC package. As well as comprehensive NC capability, this module is linked to the CAD model associatively. Output from the NC module in the Schools Edition is hard coded for the industry standard Fanuc file format which many machine tools will accept.
Schools University Edition - The NC module in this version has full 3D capability and control for 3 and more axes. It will accept post processors from all major machine tool suppliers.