It is surprising to learn that muti-axis machining predates Numerical Control. Initially, each individual axis was controlled mechanically using cam plates. With the development of NC and eventually CNC machines, the control of multi-axis machines became more refined, easy and widespread. Where earlier only the aerospace industry had the need and means to engage multi-axis machines, the introduction of software brought the advent of a comprehensive manufacturing solution- combining multi-axis machining with CAM abilities.
There is a general misconception that simultaneous 5-axis machines are most useful for parts with complex and organic geometries. While 5-axis might be the best solution for them, it works very well with simpler, non-contoured parts as well. This is because the benefits of 5 axis are reduced programming effort, elimination of multiple setups, increase in accuracy and better surface finish. These are all desirable qualities- no matter the type of part being machined.
Besides, one does not need to have work that can only be done on a 5-axis machine to warrant its purchase. The work comes with the machine; one is bound to expand and take on more complicated projects because they have the equipment.
Sim 5x CNC - Made Easy
A multi-axis toolpath is beyond the realms of human imagination. We cannot visualize the route that the machine ought to take for the best results. We need a computer’s brain to simplify it. This is where CAM comes in. The additional two axes to the conventional X, Y and Z axes, are usually two of the three rotational axes- A, B and C. These three perform rotation around the X, Y, Z axes respectively and provide more control over the part in the same set up. To optimally utilize these, SolidCAM brings various solutions for its customers.
There are two main challenges in 5-axis machining-
First is control regulation. With SolidCAM one gets the level of control they want. The user can individually control each minute element of the path- as specific as each tilt of the tool- according to the part.
Second is collision avoidance. It is easy to overlook potential clashes in a 5-axis toolpath. SolidCAM offers a simulation of the entire machining process which detects any collision with the tool or holder
A major benefit of 5-axis machining is that the two rotary axes keep the tool close and perpendicular to the work piece. This brings more stability to the tool, thus increasing the surface finish and accuracy of the part produced. There are various application-based modules to help you define specific tool paths like- SWARF machining, multi-blade machining, port machining, screw machining, conical barrel milling, contour 5-axis machining, multi-axis drilling and edge breaking and trimming. We also provide the option of converting any 3-axis toolpath to a 5-axis toolpath.
Where is 5-axis machining most advantageous?
The main areas of application of a 5-sxis machine can be divided into two main categories- conventional machining of tilted surfaces and the machining of complex 3D shapes. However, as is already mentioned, the benefits of multi-axis machining are not limited to these.
A lot of industries- aerospace, automotive, energy- require highly specialized parts with unique shapes. This makes them the prime users of the sim 5x technology. The medical industry is another major area where strict standards for quality and accuracy are achieved using Sim 5x.
How to use your Sim5x CNC to its full capacity?
An important requirement for sim 5x from any CAM software is flexibility and control. While multiple CAM systems offer programming of simultaneous 5-axis machines, they rely on automated toolpaths. They have multiple strategies available for specialized toolpaths but they don’t offer control to the user. While automation is advantageous, it can be restricting at times. SolidCAM offers a lot of command over the toolpath and all aspects of it. One can even define different clearances for each part of the tool – the tip, tool shaft, tool holder and arbor – which is a feature unique to SolidCAM.
The categorization of parameters in the SolidCAM interface establishes a sequential hierarchy that makes it more intuitive than other CAM systems. Inaccuracies in the CAD model, especially if it is imported, can be easily handled in SolidCAM; tolerance of the part can be changed as required. Another advantage that SolidCAM has over its competitors is that it has standard barrel tools pre-defined in its library, while in other systems they have to be defined from scratch.
Programming for 5-axis machining is not an insurmountable task; all one needs for it is persistence, knowledge and the latest version of SolidCAM! Contact us for more information or if you wish to see a demonstration.