On a pretty regular basis I am asked to explain something pertaining to live tool machining on a lathe - or Mill-Turn as it is commonly referred to in the industry. Even people with a CNC turning background are sometimes a little confused and can find their understanding a bit cloudy…especially in the areas of tooling, and when the use of an additional Y-axis is necessary. In this article I will try to shine some light on the basics of live tool machining, and the application of the optional Y-axis. In a future article, I will discuss tooling, toolholders, tool orientations, and the differences between VDI and BMT turrets.
A few months ago I posted an article explaining the CNC motion control system, and how it works. In that article I tried to keep it very simple and breakdown a quite complex piece of technology into an easy to understand analogy…today I want to discuss it in a little more detail, and point out some exciting advances in motion control technology.
I recently received a request from a reader to talk about what is under the sheet metal on the Hurco machines, and to discuss the components that make them so rock solid. Having been a fan of Hurco machines for quite some time now, I am happy to oblige this request.
Just like any other form of technology within our industry, 5-axis manufacturing has its very own vocabulary and list of technical buzz words. Although many of the features described below can be viewed as common, some are only found on the more advanced machine controls. For anyone looking into 5-axis machining, understanding these buzz words can be a huge benefit - and just might keep them from making an uneducated decision that they might live to regret later on.
A common misconception about the Hurco control is that it is a conversational control. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Although Hurco invented conversational programming - and arguably has the most powerful conversationally capable platform on the market - I certainly would not refer to the WinMax control as a “conversational” one…I would, instead, call it “multi-lingual”.
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.
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.