Just like the plethora of tool axis and collision control parameters that we discussed in last week’s blog article, CAM systems also have a diverse selection of toolpath strategies to choose from - and each of them have their appropriate place in 5-axis. But just like everything else in multi-axis programming, the programmers experience, and the actual machine configuration will play a big part in the selection of the suitable toolpath for a particular application. As I mentioned before, if you asked ten different programmers to program the same part, the outcome is likely to be ten completely different machining strategies. Other factors, like the number of pieces to be machined, the allotted time for completing the project, the specified material, and available tooling can also play a significant role in the toolpath selection process; but the skill level and experience of the programmer will always have the greatest impact.
CNC Machining Blog
If you asked ten different 5-axis programmers to program the same single part, you would most likely get ten different machining strategies. Depending on experience, machine configuration, CAM software, tooling, workholding, and a myriad of other criteria everyone sees the path they need to travel just a little bit differently. But they all lead to the same place…a successfully completed part. This article will be part one in a multi-part series about 5-axis programming.
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I was recently asked to explain the motion control system, used in CNC machine tools, to someone in my family. Realizing that this individual didn’t have a background in manufacturing at all – and certainly had no experience with anything this complicated and technical – I had to relate my explanation to something common and simple, allowing them to easily visualize the analogy….like driving a car.
For some reason 5-axis machining just scares people. While talking with people at trade shows, or when discussing the potential of a customer’s parts being a good fit for 5-sided machining, you can just see an uneasy feeling begin to overwhelm them, and you can see the fear begin to well up in their eyes. The mere thought of all of those axes moving at one time, sends them wanting to run for the hills. But if we take the time to look at it logically, and break it down to what is really happening, it isn’t scary at all!
For many years Hurco has offered an easy conversational solution for programming simple 3D geometries, at the control, without the need for expensive CAD/CAM software…but with today’s WinMax control it’s even easier and more powerful than ever before!
High speed machining is usually associated with any spindle speed above 15k rpm, but it is much more than just a faster spindle. The whole machine must be considered when selecting a good candidate machine for HSM. Thermal compensation, overall machine rigidity and construction, positional feedback, the motion control system, tool retention, and many other characteristics must be looked at, in detail, before determining that a particular machine is suitable for the task.
If the past few years have taught us anything, it's that the addition of 5-axis technology - even in shops that only run "3-axis" work - can positively impact a company’s bottom line. On average, shops who take advantage of this technology have seen improvements of 20% to 30% in efficiency. Imagine…what would a twenty to thirty percent reduction in cycle time and setup time - on a part that you are already running in your shop - mean to you?
Even though 5-axis machining has become much more prevalent in today’s manufacturing market place, and although the overall knowledge base of machinists and operators has grown by leaps and bounds over the past several years, there is still a great deal of misunderstanding and mystery surrounding accuracy – both as it applies to the workpiece itself, and also how the overall positioning of the rotary axes of the machine might be effected.