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B-axis contour processing software

The turn-mill combined B-axis contouring cycle software was developed by DP Technology and is included in the company’s Esprit2008CAM software package. The machining software uses an efficient method to allow the tool to follow the contour through continuous rotation of the B-axis, reaching areas that are inaccessible due to the tool geometry. This new machining method reduces the number of tools required, cutting tool replacement and programming time, while achieving a smoother and step-free surface quality. The end result is more time and money savings for the job shop.

In June 2007, B-axis profile trial cutting was successfully performed on the NT3150 turn-milling compound machine tool at the Mori Seiki Technology Center in Los Angeles, California. The Rotating Tool Center Point function (RTCP) of the Funac control system is used to output the coordinates in the NC code for its tool tip center. The RTCP function must be used with a contouring cycle to rotate the tool around its control points. The B-axis contouring cycle is based on the Esprit intelligent software SolidTurn contouring cycle. The main difference is that its B-axis technology provides full control over the selection of B-axis rotation strategies and the allowed B-axis angle limits.

A new CAM software has features that manage B-axis machining head rotation, making turning and milling possible

The machine tool can use a single tool to comprehensively turn the internal and external contour surfaces of the workpiece. There are two strategies the user can use to manage the direction of tool travel throughout the turning operation. The first strategy is to maintain a constant guide angle between the tool and the workpiece surface. In this way, the initial leading angle between the tool and the contour being cut is maintained. This initial guide angle is equivalent to a function of the original tool direction of the B-axis machining head and the direction of the first element of the contour. When the slope of the profile changes, the B-axis machining head will tilt the tool accordingly to maintain the same guide angle as the surface of the workpiece. In addition to being controlled by the software’s part/tool automatic anti-collision detection system, the total inclination slope of the tool is also limited by the user-defined guide angle range. Adopting this strategy can create the best cutting conditions and maintain an optimal angle between the tool and the surface being cut. However, this requires the movement of the B-axis to be almost completely constant, because the B-axis will produce overtravel movement.

The second B-axis rotation strategy is: when necessary, only use the tool tilt method to reduce the rotation of the tool as much as possible. This strategy keeps the tool in its original orientation until the tool reaches an uncut surface, at which point the tool is in its current orientation. Only then can the tool make the necessary tilt and cut the surface within the user-specified B-axis angle limits. This strategy used in the above-mentioned trial cutting limits the rotation of the B-axis to an area that cannot be cut by traditional tool angles. Both strategies are easy to verify, and users can demonstrate the vector of the tool axis on the screen to determine the best strategy for machining a particular part geometry. During the entire cutting process, the user can fully control the rotation range of the B-axis. One way to limit the tool angle is to apply user-defined minimum and maximum B-axis angles to limit the allowed B-axis rotation range. Likewise, for more precise control, user-defined minimum and maximum guide angles can specify the allowable range of the tool’s local guide angle.

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