It always amazes me, the sheer complexity of the task. We must take a detailed engineering design, start with a simple block of metal, and through the application of pressure and process, whittle that block down to a functional product, accurate to within microns.
In order to accomplish this feat more efficiently and bring the cost/part down, CNC Machine Tools have added more of everything in recent years. They have become more powerful, allowing for higher cutting speeds that require advanced feed-rate controls to make effective. They have also become more dynamic, with 5-Axis Mills and multi-spindle, multi-turret Mill-turn machines offering opportunities to minimize part setups, increase accuracy, and reduce overall machining time.
They have, in short, become more complex. And with that complexity comes additional expense. With machines that routinely cost multiple hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars, the reality of the situation is that a machine collision is just not an option.
There are so many capabilities and options available on a modern NC Machine tool that ensuring that the machine is properly programmed to do what is expected becomes a monumental task. You need a powerful programming tool to help you create the paths, controlling the cutting tool axis, speeds, engagements and retracts so as to efficiently and accurately machine the product.
Those paths, when initially reviewed by the CAM software, may look feasible from the context of the tool, but upon generating the code and loading it into the controller, often there are motions that are either positional in nature (rotating the part to align the tool), or controller specific (ex. Go home moves) that create collisions with objects such as fixtures or the part, or that require movement beyond the machine’s axis limitations. […]