Preparing Solid Models for Manufacturing - Automatic Feature Finding Part 2

Feature Finding is a key element when preparing your solid model for Manufacturing.  These next steps will review the Features for Milling:

Features are named entities, or groups of entities, that you can select for machining. A feature might represent a pocket or boss for example.

  • Highest Wall Level ­– When identifying a pocket, the level of the pocket is raised to the highest point on the wall of the pocket. Use this option if you have a pocket within a pocket or the pocket is embedded in a complicated surface. See below:


  • Un-checked
  • Checked

Feature Capping

  • TheFeature Caps option allows you to cover pocket or hole features in solid models with STL caps that can be used to exclude the hole or pocket feature from any surface machining cycle. To do this, the cap must be included in the cycle.
  • If the either of the Feature Caps option is checked when using the Feature Finder command on a solid with Find Pockets and/or Find Holes checked all pocket and/or hole features will be capped.

The following rules apply:

  • The caps are generated from the parent feature and are associative with the solid. Caps have their own definable layer, color and name.
  • Caps are represented as Edgecam STL entities and capped features are treated as STL models for surface machining instructions. If you explode a capped feature, the cap will be kept as a separate STL entity. Please note that exploding caps will break Associativity.


  • Find Vertical – Check this to find Holes that are parallel to the Z axis of their CPL.
  • Maximum Hole Diameter– Specifies the maximum diameter of a hole. Holes above this diameter will be recognized as a pocket not a hole, but below this diameter they will only be recognized as a hole feature.
  • Highest Concentric Level– If checked, concentric holes of the same radius at different heights will be found as one feature, that ranges in height from the bottom of the lowest hole to the top of the highest hole. If unchecked, concentric holes of the same radius at different heights will be found as separate features.
  • Thread Information– If checked this will assign thread information to hole features that had been passed from the CAD package.
  • Group Similar Holes– Check this box to group all holes with identical attributes.

Find Radial
Radial holes can be found if their axis intersects one of the axes of their CPL, as set by the axis property.

Find All Holes
New CPLs are created for the hole to be found, Hole_Find.1Hole_Find.2 and so on. (If an existing CPL cannot be used) This saves you from the laborious process of creating CPLs for the holes manually.


  • 2D/3D/Contour Pockets– The AFR will look for and record any Pockets on the solid model.
  • 2D/3D/Contour Bosses– The AFR will look for and record any Bosses on the solid model.

Contouring is making the sides of the feature more complex than simple vertical walls; for example by  taking a chain of lines and/or arcs and using this to represent part of the cross sectional profile through the feature. There are options for contouring in the Profiling cycle dialogue (Contouring tab), for example.

  • 3D Pocket/3D Boss– Check this to find features not falling into the previous two categories (2D and Contour); that is features with a free form shape. Note that the feature must have a single planar top face (bosses) or base (pockets) to be found (this is automatically the case for the 2D and Contour options).


There is a Nesting option in the Feature Finder dialogue that you can set to:

Single – Pockets features found with this setting have a Nesting status property of Single, and cannot have bosses within them (even if the region of the solid model they are originally derived from does).

Nested – Pockets found with this setting have a Nesting status property of Nested, and can have bosses within them. Use this setting if you will be roughing out pockets with bosses, to prevent the boss being machined away.

Both – There are two coincident versions of every pocket feature; a Single and a Nested version.

Open Pocket

Check this for Open Pocket feature types to be found. Open pockets allow roughing without ramping (for example), as the tool can approach through the wall gap.

Open Mill

Check this for Open Mill feature types to be found. Open mill features allow roughing without ramping (for example), as the tool can approach through the wall gap as with Open Pockets. These will support multiple open sides, continuous draft angles, upper and Lower Radii.

Flat Face Features

Machining flat areas is now easier and safer using the new Flat Face feature type.

Use these, rather than the old Face feature type, for these benefits:

  • Can be automatically found along with other feature types using the Feature Finder command (new checkbox option for Flat Face features in the Mill tab).
  • Supports Strategy based machining.
  • Additional properties to help in tool selection and gouge avoidance (such as Neighbour (Yes/No) and Outside Diameter).
  • Associative to model.
  • Machine with FacemillFlat Land Finishing and Roughing cycles.

Notes on gouge protection: If there is any adjoining higher geometry in the solid, Facemill detects this and warns that it will not generate. Instead use Flat Land Finishing as this automatically machines round the geometry.

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