CAM Software Enables Polar Milling on Five-Axis Machines

FeatureCAM 5-axis machining

Delcam has expanded five-axis machining functionality in the 2016 R2 release of its FeatureCAM software.

Reprinted with permission from Modern Machine Shop.

Delcam has expanded five-axis machining functionality in the 2016 R2 release of its FeatureCAM software. Other enhancements include improved control and simulation capabilities for multi-axis machines and options to reduce both programming and machining times.

This release enables machining of features aligned to the Z axis by using the C axis, rather than by moving in the X and Y axes. Known as polar milling or polar indexing, this option can be used in situations where the machine cannot travel beyond a certain linear point. Instead, the C axis can be used to rotate the part within the machining envelope. Machining times can be reduced and surface finish improved with this method, especially on parts with circular profiles, the company says.

An addition to FeatureCAM’s flexible machine architecture provides support for the W-axis option in machine tools such as horizontal boring machines. This option can be used to control and simulate moveable live spindles that can extend the travel limits of the Z axis to help avoid collisions.

Two options are designed to enable more efficient machining. Relative plunge, which now supports two-axis spiral and zigzag tool paths, can be set to enable the tool to rapid traverse to the plunge clearance location, rather than feeding to it. Secondly, curve sorting has been added to give better control of the order for machining multiple curves within a single feature. This can be set automatically using options such as ascending or descending in X, Y or Z, or using the shortest path to achieve the quickest cycle time, the company says.

For automatic tool selection, the software can now check the diameter of the tool shank. If the shank diameter is found to be larger than the diameter of the cutting portion of the tool, FeatureCAM will choose a tool of the appropriate length to avoid collisions of the shank with the part.

The software provides settings to position and index a turret within a part-handling feature when programming turn-mill machines. These settings can now be shown within the machine simulation, making it possible to preempt and fix potential collisions during part-handling operations.

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