OptiRough 101

The release of Mastercam X5 includes a new roughing technique we call OptiRough. From the name, you can guess that the intent is to optimize your rough machining, but that’s probably about it. So what is it? How does it work? And what will you get out of it?

What it is
The new OptiRough toolpath is based on the Dynamic Milling technique we introduced in Mastercam X4. As you may know, Dynamic Milling is a pocketing / contouring technique that constantly monitors tool engagement and adjusts the toolpath to maintain a consistent load. The result is a toolpath that can look a little unusual when seen from the above but yields faster, more efficient machining.

OptiRough uses Dynamic Milling motion. It might look odd a first glance, but it’s highly efficient.

With X5 we expanded that technique to include 3D roughing by adding a new way of making sure that your rough depths are cut not only with Dynamic Milling motion, but with as much of the flute length as possible.

How it works
Let’s look at a traditional roughing example. Let’s say you have a cavity with a boss in the center. The material you want to rough out is 1.2” deep. A typical approach might be to take a cut at .2” using as much of the cutter diameter as you can, machine that whole Z-level, then move on to the next .2” depth and repeat.

OptiRough takes a different approach. It takes a deep .6” Dynamic Machining cut, using the entire flute length but a very small percentage of the tool diameter, keeping the volume removed high. After cutting that level, the tool then takes successive up-cuts at .2” to bring the machined part to the net shape you wanted. Then it repeats the cutting at a second .6” depth. The tool travel alone that this saves can be impressive.

OptiRough uses the whole flute length for the first cut then adds smaller cuts to get the part to net shape.

The result is a part roughed to the same spec but in much less time and with much more even tool wear than with the traditional method.

Final thoughts
The beauty of OptiRough is that you don’t need any special tooling to use it. It simply uses the tools you have now, but in a much more efficient way. If you’d like to see it in action, check out the video below.

Try it out for yourself – you’ll be glad you did!

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