Multi Axis Machining
Many manufacturers use simple, "hard" fixture technology with manual clamping to machine each face of a part in each setup. This can mean that up to six setups are required on each part - and each time fixtures and components have to be unclamped, re-datumed and re-clamped. The result of this is more complexity, higher labor costs, greater floor space requirements, increased lead time and more work in progress - all of which add up to a more expensive finished product. At the same time, flexibility is reduced and quality put at risk while compound angles and faces are difficult to machine and fixture.
Adding multiple axis capability not only reduces the number of clamping and re-clamping operations but also the number of fixtures and fixture locations required. The result is less complexity, fewer defects, reduced operator input, floor space and inventory and a consequent improvement in quality, flexibility, lead time and profitability.
Companies can therefore increase their production capacity within existing resources and have the flexibility to be more responsive to their customers' needs.
In decades past, utilizing multi axis CNC machining was relegated to very sophisticated components that simply could not be processed on standard machining centers. The investment in machine tools was very large and required additional highly qualified staff to develop CNC part programs and monitor the machine.
Today however, advancements in technology and design make multiple axis machine tools much more affordable. This, combined with ever-increasing computing power of the CNC and off-line multi-axis programming, have tipped the scales in favor of multiple axis for many companies processing a variety of part configurations. Advantages can be found in lot sizes from just one piece up to medium-volume production.
Multi axis machining falls into two general groups:
Additional Features of Multi Axis Machining:
- The positioning of the workpiece in several planes and/or a variety of angles to the spindle, which then executes a 3-axis machining cycle. Five sides of a prismatic part, plus any combination of compound angles can be machined in one setup.
- The continuous multi axis cutting motion of sculptured surfaces, pockets, or other 3-dimensional features, also in a single setup.
- Machine complex shapes in a single set-up
- Machine deep cavities and undercuts using one fixture
- Cut with any tool shape normal to the surface
- Use Lead/Lag/Side angle to keep the tool off its dead spot
- Swarf machining over multi-surface floors
- 5-axis contouring around surface edges or along a 3D curve with specific vector control for applications such as trimming of vacuum-formed parts
- 5-axis drilling, either in a specific plane or along a series of lines
- Multiple methods of tool containment
- Maintain tool axis through a point or within a curve
- Multiple lead in/out move types and plunge types
- 3D cutter compensation
- Swarf mill parallel to a surface offers maximum tilt control
- Project mill over virtually unlimited number of surfaces mapping projected Toolpath depths relative to model
- Contour mill with complete drive surface control over unlimited number of check surfaces
- Independent stock on drive versus check surfaces
- Drive tool by a defined angle from surface
- Edge milling (trimming)
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