5 Questions with Michael Minton

Advertorial - Ask the Experts

Makino's Applications Engineering Services Manager explains how to integrate high performance, advanced 5-axis machine tools in medical implant and instrument production.

August 26, 2019

1. What types of 5-axis machines offer performance benefits for machining medical implants and instruments?

Fully integrated 5-axis machines are designed and built specifically to perform full 5-axis motion with the 5th axis incorporated into the machine’s base design. Fully integrated solutions provide exceptional kinematics and motion control to manage three linear axes moving harmoniously with two rotary axes. This type of integrated solution allows manufacturers to use full, 5-axis continuous toolpath strategies.

2. What are advantages of fully integrated 5-axis machining for medical components?

Part quality, surface finish, cycle time, and tool life all improve. With proper kinematic arrangement of axes, full 5-axis machining allows manufacturers to access more component features at one time. There is more flexibility in creating toolpath strategies, using shorter tool projections, enabling faster feed rates and better surface finishes, and reducing cycle times by not compromising the cutting tool’s performance.

3. What steps should be taken when choosing a 5-axis machine tool partner?

This is critical. Choosing the correct machine tool partner is paramount to achieving success in a constantly evolving 5-axis environment. Start with an outline of the requirements driving the decision to purchase 5-axis equipment. Then, prioritize it based on operational and production related improvements. Next, research companies offering 5-axis solutions, historically focused on building 5-axis machines and their capabilities to support the technology. Finally, visit each manufacturer to view and understand their capabilities and evaluate its ability to integrate and support your company’s business objectives.

4. How important is the tool spindle for 5-axis machining?

The machine tool spindle is the heart of a machine tool; the component performing the material removal. Manufacturers that design, build, and test their own spindles in-house understand the characteristics of the machine the spindles are designed for. This provides spindle offerings that maximize the capabilities of the machine’s structure. With high-speed spindles becoming more popular, look at manufacturers designing spindles for continuous use at maximum speed.

5. What special accessories are available to support full 5-axis machining?

A fully integrated 5-axis machine solution will come with all required control functions to support 5-axis machining. Additional ancillary support equipment is required. A CAM system with 5-axis capability, coupled with a post-processor to generate the G-code program, along with verification software for processing the posted G-code file in a virtual simulation of the machine tool are all needed. Having the proper personnel to understand and drive the initiative is also key.

Investing in a high-performance, 5-axis machine tool does not have to be an intimidating process. Applying the correct strategy and selecting the right partner, with capabilities beyond the machine tool, increases your return on investment of this technology.