Improve part quality
The sweet spot is a location near the center of the machining envelope where the shortest possible tool can be employed to reach all of the areas that require machining with axis movements that are as close as possible to the center of their range of travel. You accomplish this by creating the toolpaths and then simulating them at various locations until you arrive at the “happy place” where tool movements are tightly choreographed (minimal air cutting), well-supported, and all potential interferences have been detected and avoided.
When simulating 5-axis toolpaths, here are the rules of thumb that allow you to quickly achieve the most important quality and safety improvements:
- Minimize and control all motion.
- Consider every element of the cutting process.
- Keep the tool as short as possible.
- Design fixtures that allow minimum distance between the workpiece and the machine’s rotary center point.
- Eliminate air cutting. (Special tools are available within the simulation software to facilitate this.)
- Avoid collisions at any cost.
Provide faster turns on short run and prototype parts
Companies that program and prove their multiaxis equipment are at a double disadvantage because they have tied up otherwise productive equipment and programmer talent to create viable programs. Therefore, they cannot compete effectively for short run or prototyping assignments.
This may not be a huge concern for shops that are doing only production work, unless, of course, they rely on prototyping assignments to transition into new production work. Then it is a huge concern. Machine simulation opens the door for profitable short run projects by reducing the programming and proving time so that parts can be manufactured efficiently regardless of the quantities needed.