Adding Confidence in Five-axis Programming

One factor in this moldmaker’s choice of five-axis machine was the availability of robust simulation software.


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In contrast with G.H. Tool & Mold’s first five-axis machines, the trunnion-type HPM 800U-HD moves he part around the spindle rather than moving the spindle around the part. Read this article to learn why this configuration was a major factor in the shop’s choice of machine.

“Five-axis can put a lot of pressure on your programmers,” says Danny Straatmann, programming manager at G.H. Tool & Mold.

Anyone who’s witnessed one of these machines in action can understand why. Although additional axes of motion open up new machining possibilities, they also create additional risk for scrapped parts, or worse, a spindle crash.

Granted, Straatmann and the rest of the team G.H. Tool & Mold have had plenty of time to build their expertise—the Washington, Mo.-based shop purchased its first five-axis machining center in 2002. Thus, the chances of something happening are likely slimmer compared to shops with less experience. Nonetheless, even the most seasoned veterans can make mistakes from time to time, and they benefit as much as anyone from additional peace of mind. That’s why the availability of robust simulation software played a role in the shop’s choice of machine when it moved to expand five-axis capability earlier this year.

That machine, an HPM 800U-HD from GF Machining Solutions, shipped with an optional seat of Truepath postprocessing, simulation and toolpath optimization software from Camplete Solutions. Running five-axis machines in a virtual environment prior to cutting any actual metal enables the shop to not only avoid collisions, but also to weed out cutting routine inefficiencies, Straatmann says.

However, the benefits of the software go beyond that. Thanks to a partnership between the machine tool builder and software developer, the the shop didn’t have to develop a post. Had it decided to add the software to its older machines, it likely would have had to do much of that legwork itself, and even enlist outside help, Straatmann says.

Visit Camplete’s website to learn more about the software’s benefits. In particular, the developer touts the aforementioned ability to generate postprocessors with support for all major CAM systems, and the provision of machine-specific 3D models for simulation and other purposes (which the developer can provide thanks to partnerships with builders like GF Machining Solutions).

Of course, the software wasn’t the only factor in the shop’s choice of machine. Read this article to learn more.