I have programmed and produced my first part on my 5-axis machining center, and now I want to add more parts in the work zone to process multiple part numbers on a multi-part fixture. What options do I have for the most efficient processing and what’s involved?
This is a common next step for 5-axis machines but can present some unique issues for programming, processing, and operation when using Tilted Work Plane (TWP) and Tool Center Point Control (TCP). This is where the engineering support from the vendor becomes critical, so you know the limitations of the machine options and ideas for safe processing.
This can be done a couple of ways. Let’s talk about the two most common approaches.
1. Programming all stations as one large program.
This option would have everything modeled in position and all stations programmed in a CAM system.
The only real advantage to this is simplicity; one program, one work offset used.
The disadvantages can be very large programs, reduced flexibility, and no real ability to interact at the machine/control level, meaning any changes, more than likely, will need to be done in the CAM system and uploaded to the machine.
2. Another way is programming one station complete and running the complete program at different rotary positions via a main/sub program format with offset changes.
This has the benefit of a smaller program; however, its big downside is the fact you are making all the tool changes for each station.
Usually, the next question I get is how might I approach this?
My solution would use a customized approach using a main/sub program structure and some logic programming (Fanuc Macro B) so I can use the same code at all stations, making the programming and programs involved smaller. This provides flexibility, is easy to manage, and can be updated/changed without the need to repost and prove out the entire job.
It also keeps setup at the machine simple and flexible, allowing normal flexibility for compensations and changes at the machine control.
There’s not much of a difference from a normal 1-part setup except I would use a different work offset for each station, allowing adjustment of each offset in the event everything isn’t perfectly centered on the Center of Rotation (COR) for each station.
I now have options for machine operation that are, in my opinion, safe and simple.
Using macro/logic programming and the above allows me to provide a simple, effective solution to minimize tool changes, simplify operation, have logic options for safe restarts, and minimize program complexity and size.
Engineering support is a vital differentiator between success and failure. Having access to engineers who can provide insight for programming, processing, and the above topics will ultimately lessen the time it takes to realize the full potential of your 5-axis equipment. This is why at Makino and SST we have application engineers dedicated to supporting the medical industry.
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