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Choosing the right CAM software for five-axis machining

Five-axis machining technology programmed with appropriate CAM software can provide users with more realistic and effective strategies to reduce cycle times, reduce machining steps, improve surface quality and machining quality, and extend tool life, which are difficult to achieve with traditional three-axis machining. It’s impossible.

Five-axis machining improves surface quality

Five-axis machining technology is suitable for processing complex curved surfaces. Therefore, it is widely used in aerospace, automobiles, mold models and other fields. The main advantages of using five-axis machining technology in mold processing are short processing times and high surface quality. For mold manufacturing companies, the application of five-axis machining technology can achieve higher product quality and shorter delivery cycles.

Positioning five-axis machining

Nowadays, more and more machine tools and controllers can adapt to the requirements of five-axis milling. However, in terms of CAM software, the true five-axis linkage machining has not been popular enough. Some users still adopt the positioning five-axis method. Axis machining (3+2) method requires complicated optimization.

Positioning five-axis machining is completed through a “three-axis” system, with the fourth and fifth axes of machining positioned in rotational positions. Its main advantages are: effective use of shorter tools, less tool protrusion, faster cutting, extended tool life, improved machining accuracy and surface accuracy, all by simply creating a series of positioning work planes. In addition, positioning five-axis machining requires fewer processing steps, which saves time, reduces machine tool processing error rates, and improves machine tool utilization.

Five-axis linkage machining

When the mold cavity is deep and there are very narrow parts that need to be processed, if the three-axis tool path for positioning five-axis machining is still used, mutual interference is usually unavoidable. At the same time, some other areas may not be completely covered. At this time, five-axis simultaneous machining is definitely a better choice.

Of course, there are some advanced CAM systems on the market that can provide professional, reliable, and truly five-axis linkage machining solutions, such as the PowerMILL software of the British DELCAM company, the HyperMILL software of the German OPENMIND company, etc., which allow users to Create continuous five-axis tool paths on complex surfaces, solids and 3D models, and the tool paths are automatically checked and optimized to support a variety of machining strategies and all tool types.

The advantage of five-axis simultaneous machining is that it can continuously maintain an appropriate angle between the tool feed direction and the workpiece surface to obtain better surface quality, better access to chamfering, and improved tool life. More economical tool utilization, reduced cycle times, and one-time clamping all save time and reduce the error rate of machine tool processing.

Processing strategy

Five-axis machining applications in mold manufacturing mainly include rib processing, beveling, deep hole or core processing, etc. Groove processing, chamfering, steep wall and five-axis drilling can also make full use of the advantages of five-axis machining.

Using appropriate CAM software can improve the process strategy of five-axis machining. For example, vibration inspection of all tool paths, automatic calculation of curves, points, contours, and tool positions, etc., can all be completed automatically by the software. Some CAM software also supports all tools. design. Other machining strategies include “point strategies”, such as improving cutting conditions and improving machining accuracy through tool alignment.

A common problem with five-axis tool paths is that the tool vibrates in the normal direction of contact with the workpiece surface to be processed, resulting in surface quality defects. This problem can be solved by using a simplified reference surface to cancel the vibration.

Fully integrated tool path inspection provides thorough inspection against overcutting and vibration. Simulation and verification of machine motion detects and displays potential vibration, axial movement, and allows manual adjustment of any axis. In addition, choosing the right CAM software can automatically avoid vibrations, prevent impacts, and protect equipment.

Tool path optimization

CAM software can help users optimize tool paths.

Rainbow coloring can display the machining sequence, and the axes are displayed in reverse color. Visual inspection may take into account tool geometry, speed and feed. Because new CAM features describe tip characteristics, users can see actual tool processes and effects, accurately displaying feed rates and effects as well as workpiece surface quality, allowing surface finish values to be predicted before actual machining.

The reallocation of points provides a way to reduce processing time. In one example, a five-axis machining center with a spindle speed of 7500 mm/min could speed up cycle time by 39% through point redistribution and comparison with standard tolerance data. The redistribution of points allows the programmer to easily handle tool path smoothness and the distribution of points on that path in order to obtain these results.

User value

No matter which way, for mold manufacturing companies, the advantages of using five-axis machining technology are mainly reflected in the following aspects:

1. Shorten processing time: Five-axis machining can reduce the manufacturing process and the number of workpiece clampings as well as EDM area and mold polishing processing, thus greatly shortening the overall processing time and shortening the delivery cycle.

2. Improve quality: Using shorter tools can reduce deviations, obtain higher machining accuracy and more stable surface quality.

3. Reduce costs: Five-axis machining can extend the service life of tools and reduce the use of other processing equipment. For example, reducing electrical machining equipment can reduce the use of electrical stages.

In the actual application process, experienced users will also set up many templates, which can save more time and reduce the error rate of future programs, and complete process simulation can be performed on the computer to prevent errors during workshop processing.

When using five-axis machining, users may need to adjust the clamping strategy so that as many workpiece characteristics as possible can be taken into account in the programming of five-axis machining. Standard clamping devices generally do not allow contact with multiple sides of the workpiece, but the dedicated five-axis tooling mechanism and magnetic clamping mechanism can easily access the parts being processed, so they are favored by users.

The advantages of five-axis machining also include that multiple processing methods (three-axis HSM, positioning five-axis, continuous five-axis, five-axis drilling, etc.) only require one piece of equipment, and the spindle speed and feed speed are fast. In addition, Five-axis machine tools also tend to be smaller in size and have better stiffness, which can further improve enterprise application benefits.

The technology behind five-axis machining and high-speed machining continues to improve and become more widely used. Although the investment for these advancements in technology and equipment may seem relatively high at first glance, the benefits in terms of tool life, efficiency, and actual operating costs have completely offset these initial cost increases.

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