Golf Ball Paperweight Impresses Mayor

When the mayor of the city of Green, Ohio, Gerard Neugebauer, came to visit McAfee Tool & Die Inc., Senior Programmer John Stiles and assistant programmer Ben Ohler wanted to impress him. Ohler suggested machining a golf ball paperweight on a 5-axis machine to show just how advanced their manufacturing process can be.

“We decided on a golf ball because we all know exactly what it is, and what it does. We also wanted a challenge to show off the capability of 5-axis machining and to see how Mastercam could handle it,” said John.

The golf ball replica started as a 3-inch by 3 1/8-inch bar of aluminum. “We were able to pull the image file for the City of Green logo off the internet, convert it to CAD data, and import it into Mastercam,” Ben shared. He had the task of both designing and programming the project.

Scott Harding, of FASTech Inc., a certified Mastercam Reseller, did a screen share to lend his support in 5-axis milling and in using the most efficient toolpaths. “The golf ball was a combination of solid models meshed together, with some pretty tight areas to machine,” said John.

The replica took two days to design and program within Mastercam. Some of that time was spent pushing various functions in the CAD/CAM software to see what would provide the best end result.

“We created a stock model to represent the material before we started. The nice thing about being able to create stock models is that you can tell it where the stock is and where it’s not. You can alleviate cutting air and wasting time,” Ben explained. “Then we ran Verify from there, which will run the whole piece and show you if there are any mistakes. What I like about it is that it’s WYSIWYG: what you see is what you get. You get the most accurate representation of what you’re doing, instead of guessing at it.”

Ben programmed the golf ball project from start to finish on a 5-axis milling machine. The stock material was held by a hundred thousandths dovetail as it was machined from the top and then from the side. “It turns while milling, and we took about ¼ inch depth cuts at a time. That roughed most of it, and then we went into more advanced cutting to get the definition we needed for final finishing.”

At the end of the process, a lifelike replica was created with a quality surface finish. The golf ball was actually made to scale as well. John shared that the mayor was blown away not only by the quality of work but also by how quickly the McAfee team had produced the replica.

“By the time the Mayor visited, we had one of these manufactured with his name and the city of Green logo etched around the base. We were able to hand it to him as he was standing there watching the machines run.” Neugebauer left the shop impressed by McAfee’s abilities and proud of the work it brings to Green, Ohio.

To learn a little bit more about McAfee Tool & Die, you can read an article from Fabricating & Metalworking: Growing CNC Services with 5-Axis Milling.