The demonstrations were originally prepared for an open house held by Matsuura at its technology centre in Coalville, Leicestershire, last October. They highlight the five-axis machining strengths of Delcam’s PowerMILL CAM software with demonstrations on Matsuura’s LX-160, MX-520 and MX-850 machines.
Recent releases of PowerMILL have seen a series of important additions for five-axis machining, including a new dialogue to track the position of the machine tool and a new toolbar to simulate and adjust the configuration and tool axis of a 3+2 machine.
The new dialogue has a redesigned user interface giving improved presentation of data on the position of the machine tool, together with the limits set for each axis. It includes a slider to jog the machine components into position during the simulation and displays a warning if any axis limit is exceeded.
The new toolbar can be used to edit the tool axis and the orientation of the machine tool. This allows quick and easy updates to existing toolpaths with the new parameters. In addition, a new workplane that is aligned to the new axis and orientation can be created for subsequent programming operations.
Another addition that will be especially beneficial for five-axis programming is a new plug-in for PowerMILL that provides a graph of the linear and rotary axes of the machine during the simulation. Analysis of this graph allows users to locate any potential problems, such as sudden changes in direction or axis reversals that can adversely affect the surface finish. Adjusting the position of the part on the machine and running another simulation will often identify a solution to these problems.
In addition, PowerMILL has seen an increase the number of options for tool-axis definition. For raster toolpaths, the lead and lean angles can now be defined relative to a contact normal. In addition, better control is now possible for the tool-axis definition when using the To or From a Point, Line or Curve strategies. These improvements will make it easier for users to control the contact angle between the cutter and the part, and so set the optimum cutting conditions for efficient machining and high quality surface finish.
The resulting NC programs can be made even more efficient by automatically reordering the toolpaths, using the tool number or tool diameter, to reduce the number of tool changes, or using specific workplanes, to minimise set-up moves.