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.
For anyone new to 5-axis machining, it should quickly become apparent that fixturing can be one of the single most challenging tasks that you will face during the setup process. Although there are many different styles of professionally manufactured workholding devices available, from a variety of different manufacturers - like Kurt, Raptor Workholding, Lang, Jergens, Bock, Hirschmann, and System 3R just to name a few - creativity is the name of the game.