Using CAM to Find Your Five-Axis “Sweet Spot”

by Karlo Apro, Product Deployment Manager, CNC Software Inc.
Author of Secrets of 5-Axis Machining

In the manufacturing business we pride ourselves on accuracy and precision. These words are mantras of our industry. Yet nothing that moves is ever 100% accurate and that fact leads us to the great irony of five-axis machining. While five-axis systems, if used appropriately, can dramatically improve accuracy and productivity, the additional axes also increase the potential for the stacking of error. Nothing we make is ever perfect. That is why we have tolerances in our designs.

The same applies to our CNC machines. There must be little gaps between components in order for them to move in a linear or rotary fashion. The more components in a machine’s assembly, the more these gaps compound into less and less precise movement. That is the price we pay for five-axis machining’s many advantages. Simultaneous five-axis motion allows you to reach areas that would be either impossible or very inefficient to reach with traditional methods. The drawback is that when you move the machine in the continuous five-axis mode the rotary brakes must be off. The machine is running in the “loose” mode. Today’s five-axis machines use sophisticated technology to keep this motion as accurate as possible; but then again, nothing is ever perfect.

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