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Automating Multi-Spindle Program Creation

New CAM technology has been introduced by ESPRIT CAM, part of Hexagon's Manufacturing Intelligence division that provides manufacturers with the control and flexibility needed to use multi-spindle and multi-channel CNC machinery for the machining of long parts. "More accurate simulation of spindle transfers and bar pulls enables manufacturers to exploit multitasking machinery with high productivity program creation of error-free toolpaths," said a company spokesperson.

Machining long parts, such as shafts and axles, is challenging because the workpiece needs to be supported throughout to maintain cutting speed and surface quality. "The main and sub spindles must be synchronized to ensure that cutting can be performed while both spindles hold the workpiece for maximum support," said the spokesperson. "Bars are also frequently repositioned in incremental steps to keep workpieces rigid, as well as to account for limited bed length. Because repeat repositioning of the bar presents a collision risk, it benefits machinists if they are supplied with NC code that tracks machine motion for greater flexibility and readability at the machine control."

Without the ability to track machine motion, a significant amount of time is spent hand-editing NC code and troubleshooting programs before production begins using complex multitasking scenarios. ESPRIT TNG CAM software now automatically tracks the location of work offsets regardless of part position by enabling programmers to define the offset and offset translations, or the points at which offset changes occur. "In addition to enabling precise simulation, this eliminates the need for custom settings or calculations to the machine post to ensure that parts are machined accurately and makes it possible to program a greater number of complex machining scenarios without error," said the spokesperson.

ESPRIT TNG now also enables manufacturers to perform face milling operations with a "roll-in" lead-in strategy recommended by Sandvik Coromant to improve surface quality, reduce cycle time and extend tool life. "This lead-in technique positions the cutter for ideal thick-to-thin chip formation, which indicates that the insert engages the material deeply enough at entry to make a significant cut before exiting smoothly to reduce vibration and ensure consistent, high-quality surface finish," said the spokesperson. "In addition to being less damaging to cutter inserts, this strategy eliminates the need to manually calculate face milling stepovers during the programming process, which automatically ensures a consistent and even surface across the entire workpiece."

The release also offers productivity benefits for 3-axis operations. "Toolpath creation is now 20x faster, meaning that toolpath that once took 30 minutes to generate can now be calculated in about two minutes. Furthermore, a new 3-axis toolpath can now be created in ESPRIT TNG from an existing operation without recalculating the entire toolpath," said the spokesperson. Areas in collision can be trimmed from toolpath generated for use with short cutting tools, or re-machining operations can be created with a long tool to cut only areas that cannot be reached with the shorter tool.

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