The Days of Plunging a Big Tool into Stainless Steel Might be Over

After three decades of performing CAD/CAM operations, Paul Vezzetti, a CNC programmer and manufacturing engineer at a global manufacturer of large machines, was pleasantly surprised when he was introduced to high-speed milling toolpaths. He dove into learning as much about the technology as possible, taking advantage of the different software functions and realizing significant time, cost, and tool savings during heavy metal removal jobs.

Paul Vezzetti, CNC programmer and manufacturing engineer, has been working with heavy-duty parts for the better part of 30 years. His experience includes the first versions of CAD/CAM software that were introduced in the early 1980s, one of which was Quicksilver, the precursor to Mastercam® (CNC Software, Inc., Tolland, CT). He kept up with the various enhancements and new features of each new version, taking the time to learn them and realizing the time and cost-savings benefits of using them. Vezzetti says his work life changed when he was introduced to Dynamic Motion technology at a seminar hosted by a major CNC machine manufacturer. Curious, he attended an education seminar hosted by his Mastercam reseller, Barefoot CNC, LLC (Morganton, NC) to learn more about this latest improvement. He was hooked.

Dynamic Motion technology, or constant chip load machining, involves proprietary intelligent algorithms programmed into the software that detect changes in the material being machined. The tool remains constantly engaged with the material, moving and cutting as it was programmed to do. The process reduces or eliminates the stepovers that can cause tool breakage. Tool breakage halts production and increases tool and cycle time-related costs. Applying Dynamic Motion toolpaths, machines can be pushed to their full capacity, running as fast as possible without wasted air cut time.

For example, Vezzetti implemented the technology on a process that makes steel couplings for a part weighing approximately 10 tons that was previously done on an older machine with a legacy form cutter. The new, larger machine – which costs approximately $300 an hour to run – requires the part to be lifted and reset inside the machine. The part was programmed by applying the open pocket technique using 4mm and 6mm endmills. Using the software’s Mill function, the program filled in the speeds and feeds as Vezzetti applied the proper parameters to them and then made a few changes to the toolpaths as needed. According to Vezzetti, the Dynamic Motion function wanted to base the feed rate on the width of the cut (the stepover) but their machine was so large it was unable to keep up with the speed. To compensate, he increased the stepover, telling it to step over a greater distance to slow the machine down so that it would fall more in line with its capabilities. In doing so he made the program longer but it ran faster on the machine. “I slowed it down to make it faster,” Vezzetti said. They saved roughly $43,000 annually in setup and cycle costs.

Vezzetti programmed the part with assistance from his Mastercam reseller Jimmy Wakeford at Barefoot and an operator on the shop floor. He noted: “The operators who receive the new programs are at first scared because the machine is going so fast. Now that we have been doing this for two years they are comfortable with it.”

For turning operations, Vezzetti had special high-chrome stainless steel tools designed for a deep O.D. grooving operation so that he could implement Dynamic Motion into the process rather than using dead straight plunges that would undoubtedly cause tool breakage and downtime. The test runs are promising. “I am looking to use Dynamic on everything now,” said Vezzetti. “I’m using it in the turning center whenever possible. We do a lot of turning and grooving and I think the days of plunging a big, wide grooving tool into a part are gone. It’s a better option to go in with a round tool and use the Dynamic Motion functionality in the software.”

After 30 years of running nearly every type of CAD/CAM operation, Vezzetti still marvels at the simplicity of using technology that has so much complexity built into it. The fact that he can deliver a finished product in lightning time to his customers with additional cost savings has him hooked on high-speed chip making for at least another 30 years.