DP Technology Europe CAM-programmed pinch milling in 5 axes enables cycle times to be shortened

Editor: Eric Culp

Pinch milling involves the use of live milling tools in the upper and lower turrets or spindles of a multitasking machine tool to cut opposite sides of a single workpiece at the same time. The capability Esprit 2012 CAM software from DP Technology offers to machine operators interested in employing this 5-axis processing technique is one of the system’s advanced features designed to make production work flows optimally efficient.

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In pinch milling with Esprit, the CAM programmer synchronises two simultaneously occurring multiaxis surfacing tool paths. The axis motions of the upper and lower milling tools are programmed on a multitasking machine with a b-axis head (x-z-c-b) and with a lower turret (x-z) that supports live tooling and possibly also y-axis travel. The turning spindles provide the c-axis motion and contribute balanced support at each end of the workpiece.

With two tools cutting the same profile simultaneously, overall cycle time is reduced. Typically, for long parts, the machining process will require a semifinishing operation to smooth the stock material all around the part for the finishing tool. This uniform stock imparts unwavering cutting forces to the tool to allow a smoother finish. By using the lower turret to machine the workpiece to finish stock while the finishing tool is cutting the workpiece to zero, the overall cycle is shortened by nearly all the time needed to machine the semifinishing tool path had the operations been done sequentially.

Another technique is to start the cut with the lower-turret tool until a fixed distance is reached, after which the second tool (the finishing tool in the b-axis head) follows the first by this fixed distance. This provides enough stock clearance for a larger-radiused end mill to be used for finishing.

DP Technology Europe

Montpellier, France