It also takes time to distill the massive amounts of technological jargon and explain software features resident in a 5-axis machining centre’s control that make the process more efficient. It can be illustrated, however, why shops all over the country are investing in 5-axis to increase profit margins on parts they previously were producing on 3-axis machines. Common problems do arise with the process, but resolutions have been designed to solve them. Here are just a few.
Problem: Multiple Part-Zero Setups
Even an uncomplicated part that is 5-sided requires multiple part-zero setups. In these situations, you waste time and compromise accuracy when you have to continuously flip the part to machine each side. Doing the same part using a true 5-sided process turns five setups into one.
Resolution: Transform the Plane
A software feature for transforming the plane (see Figure 1) simplifies 5-sided programming and eliminates the hassle of setting up part-zero five separate times. The technology does the work so you can start making chips. You just need to locate one part-zero, and the remaining part-zero locations can be defined as incremental measurements from the original location.
Additionally, you can still program the geometry on each of the sides if you’re programming in an X/Y plane. The transform plane function basically changes programming on a 5-axis mill back to 2.5-D programming that you would do on a 3-axis mill, which means that you don’t need to worry about the tilting or rotating.
How it works: The tool axis becomes the Z axis, and the control calculates all of the required tilting and rotating.
Problem: Redundancy in Posting a 5-Axis Program
Each time you refixture, you waste valuable time re-entering the distance from part-zero to the centrelines of rotation and then reposting the program.
Resolution: Manage the Tool Centre Point
If your control has a software feature such as tool centre point management, you post the program once and machine the part, no matter where it is in relation to the centrelines of rotation on the machine.
Tool centre point management solves the problem for CAM software. The CAM programmer generates the toolpath based on the part model’s zero location and, therefore, you can post the program independent of where the stock is fixtured on the table. This is a substantial time-saver for a 5-axis part.