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Note: This article originally appeared as a Case Study From: 5/1/2016 Modern Machine Shop, Edited by Emily Probst , Associate Editor
VIDEO NOTE: Scroll to the bottom of the page for a behind-the-scenes look at 5th Axis, and hear Chris Taylor talk about how Hypermill software has helped his company.
From day one, 5th Axis Inc.’s business strategy has been to take advantage of the most advanced software, equipment and technologies available so it could competitively enter demanding niche markets like aerospace, medical and other challenging high-tech industries.
However, during the company’s entry into five-axis machining, co-founders Steve Grangetto and Chris Taylor realized their CAM software had major shortcomings—machining collisions were common, and they weren’t able to realize the full potential of their machine tools. Using Hypermill from Open Mind Technologies AG of Wessling, Germany, the company achieves faster run times, better surface finishes and overall better quality
Business grew dramatically during the company’s first three years. To meet the growing demand for complex, five-axis machining, 5th Axis purchased a new high-performance five-axis machine to accompany its original Haas machine. However, during programming, the company realized the shortcomings of its existing, mainstream CAM software. Along with unexpected machining collisions, the company couldn’t fully utilize the speed, capabilities and potential of its new high-end machine. That’s when Mr. Grangetto and Mr. Taylor decided to give Hypermill a try.
For instance, five-axis machining greatly improves part precision by eliminating alignment errors that are introduced in standard machining when a part is removed and refixtured in another orientation. It is also extremely time-efficient, because most or all of the work is performed in a single setup with no delays while waiting for an operator to unload, reload and reposition the part.
Stepping through the tool path to watch it remove material and verify that it clears the machine without any collisions is a valuable time-saver. “I do not have to walk out to the shop floor and manually look inside a machine with coolant flowing to check clearances,” he says.
By controlling the amount of volume or the angle of the cutter’s engagement, the cutter can loop into a corner. The Maxx Machining roughing module extends tool life, and machining time is reduced by 30 to 75 percent by maintaining a constant chip load, Mr. Levine says. 5th Axis can use Hypermill Maxx Machining on materials ranging from aluminum to hard materials like Inconel because its high-speed machines are fast enough to keep up with the rapid toolpath motion that is generated. “The bottom line is that using Hypermill Maxx Machining results in super-efficient and fast tool paths,” Mr. Norton says.
Open Mind uses internal experts to develop postprocessors, which it considers to be a core technology of the company. The customized postprocessors have configurable parameters that enable users to control their particular environments. This means that the core mathematics and the basic structure of the post are created and locked down by Open Mind, but 5th Axis can change certain parameters, which influence the locked portion.
According to Mr. Levine, “Some companies give the customer a tool kit and the ability to build their own post, but those guys are not there to write postprocessors; they are there to cut metal. Also, writing the entire postprocessor is too much for the original equipment manufacturer that has to ensure compatibility with various CAM software products. An alternative approach is to give the customer no control, but then they would have to call back to the service supplier to make custom changes. Our combination of locked and open is not entirely common, and we believe it gives customers the best of both worlds.”
The high-quality tool paths, advanced CAM software capabilities, postprocessor support and skilled technical support give 5th Axis the confidence to take on ever more challenging jobs that require programming complex parts, Mr. Taylor says. “With Open Mind’s help, we never burn money getting stuck on a job. Their contribution has been a really big part of the growth of our business.”
At the September 2014 IMTS show, Emmett Quigley, the Manager of the Airborne Instrument Development Lab at NASA Ames Research Center, was looking for a modular workholding system that would help him to quickly change over the fixturing on his table to meet the lab's demands of rapid prototyping and development.
Demanding design requirements for future development
Quigley had several initial requirements:
Emmett looked at a couple of systems but post IMTS only mPower had followed up with the information he needed to start the design. He found that the Modern Industries mPower modular tombstones and fixturing systems would meet his needs, but would need some customization to truly get the maximum use of his machines table space and travels. The mPower system was to be implemented on two machines to begin with. The first would be the labs workhorse, a Deckel MAHO DMU70V. The next machine would be a Deckel Maho MH600C Universal Milling Machine. The MAHO is unique in that it has both a horizontal and vertical spindle as well as a full fourth axis capability.
After several email exchanges and design discussions with regional manager Chris Savolainen and Ron Bemis, the Application Engineer at Modern Industries the team spent from from October 15th through 17th reviewing the various part shapes and size requirements to define the subplate hole locations that would provide the very best versatility to meet the needs of the lab.
It was decided to go with 2" x 2", 1/2 -13 bolt hole pattern in 1.5 “ thick aluminum plates. However they needed to modify the DMU plate by adding the through hole so they can reach the table with their tool setter. Quigley then need to duplicate the plates in steel.
The final requirement was that the lab needed to have the locating/clamping features below the surface as these plates will need to be surfaced from time to time.
Due to budget constraints the system had to be developed with consideration for the longer term lab requirements so that it could eventually expand for upcoming new projects. Preparing for the unknown problem has always been part of the mission at NASA so long term contingency planning is the norm.
In June of 2015, phase one of the project was implemented on the Deckel Maho DMU70V machine.
Quigley's thoughts on the implementation thus far:
According to Savolainen "NASA's Airborne Instrument Development Lab at Ames really considers both current needs and future needs when they look at workholding systems. The machines and equipment have to be versatile enough to handle current projects but also new research projects that might not even exist until 10 or 15 years from now. They really put a great deal of thought into products before they get them and it's actually a real pleasure to work with engineers who plan and think so far into the future!"
by Steve McBride, Product Specialist, OSG Tap & Die
There are a variety of Shrink Fit Toolholding Systems on the market, all of which use thermal contraction to grip cutting tools. However, while most Shrink Fit holders are one-piece type, OSG has improved upon this design with our “hybrid” Shrink Fit System. The word “hybrid” is defined as “something of mixed origin or composition” and this is what OSG has accomplished with our shrink fit system, as our holders have the accuracy and rigidity of Shrink Fit Holders, but the versatility of Collet Chucks.
HOW ACCURATE IS IT?
Since all surfaces are precision ground, OSG’s Shrink Fit System maintains a runout accuracy of 5 microns (0.0002”) or less. This accuracy is consistently repeatable, since our Shrink Fit Collets are made of a stainless steel alloy (rather than tool steel) and our hot air Shrink Fit unit keeps the heat to a manageable level. This high level of accuracy helps the customer to machine the part to a finished state without worry.
Using the OSG’s Shrink Fit Holders with standard cutting tools (rather than EDM or special extended-length cutting tools) save customers considerable money. OSG’s Shrink Fit Collets can also be modified to fit extremely tight spaces
In addition to accuracy and reach, OSG’s Shrink Fit System offers flexibility that others do not. One Base Holder can accommodate a variety of Shrink Fit Collets, allowing customers to keep initial investments low. Also, since Shrink Fit Collets can be used in any Base Holder, customers can use OSG’s Shrink Fit System in multiple machines simply by purchasing new Base Holders. This is particularly helpful since a shop can get greater versatility out of existing tooling when they purchase new machines.
MAXIMUM COST SAVINGS
OSG’s Shrink Fit System provides maximum accuracy, reach and flexibility, all of which contribute to increased productivity and cost savings. Your customers should consider our system not only for new tooling purchases, but also for improving productivity on existing jobs.
This article originally appeared in the May 2013 / Volume 65 / Issue 5 of Cutting Tool Engineering titled "Evolving toward digital" By Matt Tegelman, BIG Kaiser Precision Tooling Inc.
Boring tools with a digital readout aren’t the standard in U.S. shops, but their use is growing.Think about the number of digital equipment interfaces and interactions an operator has when machining.
Machine operators use keypads and computers to run tooling programs and measure parts with digital gages and coordinate measuring machines. By definition, CAD/CAM work is accomplished digitally. Machine tool controls have digital displays. On most tool presetters—even simple ones without a vision system—the readout is digital. Bore gages are digital, whether it’s an air gage or a three-point-contact gage. There are still a few old-timers who trot out ID micrometers once in awhile, but most measurement devices are digital for speed and accuracy.
Analog readout technology isn’t dead because it’s still highly effective for the majority of low- to medium-level tolerance operations. Few shops have yet to make the switch to digital boring across the board, and it will be a long time before more do so on a regular basis. Digital boring heads cost 60 to 80 percent more than their analog counterparts.
That said, as old boring heads need replacement and more operators become accustomed to the advantages of digital boring adjustments, there eventually will be a turning point in some operations where it makes sense to go all digital. This change won’t happen just because it’s the direction of the industry.
Don’t Sacrifice PerformanceIf a shop is considering moving from analog to digital boring tools, the best conversions are those that can be accomplished without having to replace any accessories—simple one-for-one boring head trade-offs. Still, ask questions to ensure this is the case with your shop. Users can defeat the purpose of digital ease of use if the head isn’t a 1:1 replacement and additional programming or tinkering is necessary when converting to digital.
For instance, Kaiser’s 112 EWD, 310 EWD and 318 EWD digital boring heads are otherwise identical to their analog predecessors. They have the same boring ranges, cutting parameters and through-coolant capabilities, so an operator can swap an analog for a digital model with little or no reprogramming. All three series use the same accessories, such as boring bars and insert holders, as their nondigital counterparts.
Despite the obvious advantages of digital, the technology isn’t yet for everyone. But as manufacturing and technology continue to become more and more entrenched in the digital realm, there will be a tipping point after which digital boring is the norm. Some shops will just be ahead of the curve. CTE
About the Author: Matt Tegelman is the Kaiser product manager for BIG Kaiser Precision Tooling Inc., Hoffman Estates, Ill. For more information about the company’s boring tools and other products, call (888) TOOL-PRO or visit www.bigkaiser.com.
Digital boring heads from Big Kaiser were designed to be a simple 1:1 match to their analog predecessors - same boring ranges, cutting parameters, and through-tool coolant capabilities - so an operator can swap an analog for a digital model with little or no reprogramming. Just like your cell phone or computer, it won't be long until you wonder how you ever lived without a digital interface.
Make the leap to digital technology.
Our blog section is written by several different people. Sometimes, it from our team here at Next Generation Tooling at other times it's by one of the wonderful manufacturer's we represent in California and Nevada