In today’s fast-paced manufacturing environment, improving efficiency and productivity is more important than ever. Anyone working with 5-axis CNC machining knows that it is a great technique to enhance manufacturing efficiency and output.
The best 5-axis CNC would offer the ability to create complex parts with an unparalleled degree of precision.
However, using them to their fullest potential requires a creative mindset besides a technical ones. There is severe competition in the manufacturing sector and creatively maximizing outputs while minimizing costs is the only way for any business to thrive.
The following discussion will explore some innovative techniques for boosting productivity of industrial 5-axis CNC operations, which have the potential to take the capabilities of any business to the next level.
1 – Toolpath Optimization
Optimizing the tool path is one of the most effective ways to utilize 5-axis machining to its fullest. CAM programs like Mastercam are an excellent tool to reduce unnecessary tool movements and collisions. This means better machining times, better production quality, and in general, enhanced productivity.
These are significant numbers when viewed from a business lens and can result in a huge reduction in overall lead times. Thereby giving businesses a competitive edge.
2 – Use Shorter Tools with an Automatic Tilt
Another excellent way of maximizing productivity is optimizing the usage of cutting tools. For instance, shorter cutting tools and automatic 3-to-5 axis tilting can significantly reduce a 5-axis machine’s chances of errors and accidents. Shorter tools are more stable and can handle higher cutting forces, enabling faster cutting speeds and feeds, resulting in shorter cycle times and increased productivity.
Moreover, shorter cutting tools with automatic tilt can improve surface finishes by reducing tool deflection and cutting vibrations. The automatic tilt feature allows for greater flexibility in toolpath planning and execution, enabling the machining of highly complex geometric features.
By maintaining a consistent angle of attack, the tool wear can be reduced as its loading condition remains consistent throughout the duration of the cut.
3 – Use Barrel Cutters for Curved Surfaces
Barrel cutters are an excellent tool to enhance 5-axis CNC machining quality, but their use is not as extensive as it should be. Barrel cutters are a type of end mill tool that have a partially spherical cutting edge.
They are an incredible choice for curved surfaces that require greater step-down. The common ball-nose mill can get the job done, but barrel cutters can deliver better, faster, and more aesthetic results owing to their special shape. In fact, the time saved for some designs can be as much as 70%.
Another reason why barrel cutters can be a great choice is dynamic rigidity. Because of their geometry and chip evacuation properties, they vibrate less severely and are more stable. Combine that stability with the maneuverability that 5-axis machines offer, machinists can manufacture very smooth surfaces in short durations with greater tool access.
4 – Implement an Appropriate Cooling System
Another simple, yet incredibly effective way of reaping all the benefits of 5-axis CNC machining is by employing a cooling system suited to one’s application. A common method is to use high-pressure coolant. This high-pressure cooling system can improve chip evacuation, keep the workpiece cold, and thus, extend the tool life.
Another emerging cooling technique is Minimum Quantity Lubrication (MQL). It is an advanced cooling and lubrication method that used a small amount of lubricant/coolant to reduce friction. It is generally delivered to the cutting zone as a mist by high-pressure air. It is well-suited for high-speed CNC machining and hard-to-cut materials, two of the most well-known applications of 5-axis CNC machining. MQL improves surface finish, reduces coolant consumption, and is environment-friendly.
5 – Use 5-axis Table Adapters
5-axis machines have a distinct advantage over their predecessors because of its enhanced tool access. For any job, it is integral that the workpiece remains stationary in one place. However, a standard vice blocks access from the sides and severely limits the tool’s access to certain regions of the workpiece.
5-axis table adapters are a useful solution in the machining process because they allow for increased flexibility and precision when working with complex geometries and angles.
The table adapter allows for the workpiece to be rotated and tilted in two additional axes (A and B), while the cutting tool remains stationary. This allows for the cutting tool to access areas of the workpiece that were previously inaccessible.
Some Other Ways to Enhance 5-axis CNC Production
The aforementioned 5 ways are only the tip of the iceberg. There are several ways to increase the overall productivity of 5-axis CNC machining setup. From implementing automation in the process to creating durable cutting tools from unique materials, the possibilities for CNC improvement are endless.
Another excellent way of getting the most out of 5-axis CNC machines is to employ predictive maintenance techniques. By identifying potential issues before they become major problems, companies can reduce downtime and increase machine uptime.
Deloitte states that an excellent predictive maintenance program can reduce overall downtime by 50%. This means more productive hours which naturally result in better productivity and overall performance.
Multi-axis CNC machines have tremendous potential in improving the overall productivity of any business. However, we would like to reiterate that it requires careful investment and planning to make the best use of it. We discussed some of the popular ways you could do this and explained their respective advantages.
It is integral for businesses to ensure that they are getting the most out of their 5-axis CNC machining setup by thinking outside the box and creatively using all the resources at their disposal.