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Q&A Uncovering potential savings in tool and mould making

| Author / Editor: Carolin Lang / Rosemarie Stahl

There are high demands for optimisation in cutting manufacturing. Productivity needs to increase and the quality needs to improve or at least stay at the same level with reduced costs. But where in the process chain is the best place to start?

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The 5-axis tangent plane machining strategy allows users to finish all components that feature hard-to-reach planes very efficiently and free of collisions.
The 5-axis tangent plane machining strategy allows users to finish all components that feature hard-to-reach planes very efficiently and free of collisions.
(Source: Open Mind)

An important part of the process chain is the creation of NC programs for milling workpieces. Using a modern CAM system helps firms meet their targets, manufacture economically and thereby increase their competitiveness.

Open Mind Technologies, a developer of controller-independent CAM/CAD systems, offers the Hypermill Maxx Machining performance package, which features three powerful modules for highly efficient roughing, finishing and drilling. The power package includes the 5-axis tangent plane machining strategy, which enables time savings of 90% compared with conventional methods.

Peter Brambs is Principal Engineer of Innovation at Open Mind.
Peter Brambs is Principal Engineer of Innovation at Open Mind.
(Source: Open Mind)

Peter Brambs, Principal Engineer of Innovation at Open Mind, explains how it works and why Open Mind decided to develop the performance package.

What was the impetus for developing the 5-axis tangent plane machining strategy?

Many product faces in moulds are mapped using inserts and slides. As a result, moulds feature a large number of planes and connecting faces such as fillets. Such geometries often make up over 70% of a mould. These geometries are also prevalent outside of the actual product faces, depending on the size and accessibility of the structure. The finishing methods of these faces have not changed in many years. Although the finishing process would appear to require simple 2D tasks, planes are often ‘milled’ using conventional methods, whereby they are finished in very fine steps with ball mills or bullnose endmills. This process results in excellent surface quality but takes a very long time.

Another conventional approach is to use face cutters or milling head cutters. It is possible to machine more quickly with these tools, but it is difficult to achieve the level of quality that is required. In particular, ball mills are used for line-by-line milling, since the faces here are either too large or hard to reach using traditional 2D strategies. At the same time, the tool path is not sufficient to reach the outer faces for top milling. Furthermore, problems arise relating to the required surface tolerances when finishing with large face cutters. In the end, up to 70 per cent of ball milling programs produce simple prismatic moulds.

Open Mind has been developing efficient alternatives to these established but ultimately ineffective working methods for a very long time. We have developed a completely new technology that allows you to achieve savings of up to 90% when finishing hard-to-reach planes.

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