Five Reasons to Invest in Five-Axis Machining Technology
Rich Stueber, MMT EAB member and operations manager at NyproMold Inc., says that, like him, anyone who has worked 35-plus years in moldmaking has seen many innovations in machining technologies. From the introduction of CNC, wire EDM, additive manufacturing and, most recently, five-axis machining, a lot has changed when it comes to how molds are manufactured.
By now, many of you have invested in these technologies to keep your businesses moving forward. But, I know from talking with colleagues that not everyone sees the benefits of investing in five-axis machining technology. Objections include the costs of the machine and software and training, not to mention finding the right person to oversee the technology and make it cost-effective. But, here are five reasons why making five-axis machining part of the moldmaking process is a smart investment for the future.
Improve cycle times. With five-axis capabilities, you can machine on five sides of inserts, plus square it on all five sides while adding required side work and angled work without removing the insert from the vice. Eliminating multiple setups will increase production and accuracy and reduce the time parts sit between operations.
Eliminate surface blends when cutting from multiple sides on the same insert. While machining multiple sides of a workpiece, the program works off of one pickup location just like a three-axis mill. The blends between rotations are controlled by the true center of rotation of the machine and its relationship to the pickup location.
Get new options for cooling lines within components. Five-axis capabilities open the door for drilling holes on compound angles to get into tight areas. This improves cooling and gets air into areas that previously may have taken several setups to achieve. Imagine having the ability also to cut helical cooling lines on the outside of round inserts to improve cooling.
Get more cut and accuracy from cutting tools. Five-axis machining makes it possible to use the same tool at many different angles, thus increasing the number of cutting edges used on each tool. Tool life and accuracy will increase by tilting the axis to cut deeper without clearing tools back or having to hang workpieces further out of the holder than designed to be able to machine the part.
Open the door to simultaneous machining. Growing into simultaneous machining makes it possible to machine parts that before were not even considered possible. Because it is possible to simultaneously move cutting tools 360 degrees around the part, five-axis technology empowers machinists to easily machine tight, previously unreachable surfaces. It also opens the door to many more programming options including consolidating many machining operations into one.
With five-axis capabilities, you are limited only by your creativity!
Correct alignment lock selection will reduce maintenance costs, molding downtime and increase part quality over the mold’s entire life.
In the last two years, there have been many exciting developments in high-speed machining relative to machining centers and controls, tooling and CAD/CAM systems.
An integrated approach to the design and machining of micro-milling components is key for mold manufacturers looking to capitalize on this growing opportunity.