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Horizontal kinematics and 5 axis machining

Is there a conflict between flexibility and productivity?

The basics – why go for 5-axis technology?

Why go for 5-axis technology is the first question and most probably the most important one. Most current production still runs on 3- and 4-axis machines and the existing solutions are excellent for those components.

There are several reasons for going for a 5-axis machine:
  •  Parts have complex shapes requiring multiple setups on a 3- or 4-axis machine.
    • The possibility of minimising the number of operations and, consequently, human interaction with the part will result in higher part quality, a lower scrap rate, and, depending on the part, better cycle times.
  • Parts are simple, but with a 5-axis approach the number of setups can be reduced.
  • Tools are too long and their performance is very poor.
    • If by going for 5-axis we can reduce the length of the tools, productivity will increase and tool life decrease.
  • Looking to the future and opening up new markets
    • In all sectors there is a trend to more complex shapes and many manufacturers want to enter new markets such as the aerospace or medical industry where 5-axis machining is standard.
The basics – why go for 5-axis technology?

Is flexibility killing productivity?

Lot of manufacturers believe that switching to 5-axis kinematics will slow down their production. That depends on various factors.

If your company is running high-volume production on a 4-axis horizontal machine that removes a lot of material and you move to a 5-axis vertical machining centre, the chances are that productivity will fall. Chip evacuation is not always optimal, re-cutting of chips may be required, and pallet-changing times are normally higher.

But if the same company moves to a horizontal machining centre with a 5-axis table, the scenario is very different. A machine such as the a500Z:
  • Can perform 5-axis cutting
  • Has a horizontal concept that is still compatible with light tombstones or multi-clamping fixtures
  • Has a machine rigidity similar to 4-axis machining centres
  • Has an standard pallet changer
In this scenario the machine will be able to maintain the cutting performance, but additionally reduce the number of operations needed for each part. The ultimate outcome will be higher productivity.

What is the optimal solution for you? The best idea is to talk to our sales engineers, as they have the experience to support you and guide you to the best solution to minimise your cost per part. 
Is flexibility killing productivity?

How to automate a 5-axis machine?

This is probably the key point of 5-axis horizontal machining centres and there is no simple solution because so much depends on your production scenario.

Machines such as the a500Z with a standard pallet will be automated with flexible pallet systems such as the PZ1, MMC2 or similar solutions on the market. Other machines like the a81nx-5XR will need a different path to automation where we automate either with single-part robot loading or a flexible manufacturing cell, such as our VIP system. Bigger-sized machines such as the MAG3.EX will need a dedicated MMC2 solution for handling big pallet sizes.

Once again, the best solution will come from the consultancy service we offer at Makino.

Bigger size machine as MAG3.EX will need dedicated MMC2 solution for handling big pallet sizes.

Once more, the best solution comes from the consultancy service from Makino
How to automate a 5-axis machine?

What about programming?

There is no easy way out in this step. 5-axis machining is all about programming and manufacturers need to have a dedicated CAM program and someone who is skilled enough to use it. However, the Fanuc control that is incorporated into Makino's 5-axis machines has lot of features that make programming easier.

- G68.2, a tilted working plane used in 3+2 machining: This function is used on 5-axis milling machines to define a plane, tilted relatively to the machine table.

-G43.4, the tool centre point control used in 5-axis simultaneous machining: This function carries out tool length compensation even between blocks so the 

As far as Makino is concerned, the options inside the controller are focused on delivering the best possible quality to the customer:
  • Super G.I. 5: Our Professional 6 interprets the points and smooths up movement, while also increasing forward vision so as to be able to react faster on the tool path. 
  • GI – Smoothing: Most of the controls smooth the tool path in the direction of the movement. This function does that as well but on the surface to be machined, and in this way the lines between tool paths are less noticeable. 
  • GI-scrap: Professional 6 Control can filter the small errors from the tool path caused by 3D model surface sewing issues.
What about programming?

5-axis safety

Starting on 5-axis machining is certainly scary. What about crashes? Crashes can ruin this kind of investment really fast and this issue is not uncommon.

Simulating NC code is a virtually safe way to prevent crashes, but it is not 100% risk-free. The good thing is that all Makino 5-axis machines are equipped with our Collision Safe Guard function, which simulates the cutting process before it happens. 300 msec in advance the control function simulates the cutting process using forward vision for the motors. In this way we can ensure that the position will be the real one, and if a problem is detected, the machine will be stopped before it occurs.

Switching to 5-axis machining can be scary, but that is why we have a team of application engineers and sales consultants to support you. They can examine your production requirements, propose the best possible solution, and even offer you support in entering the world of 5-axis machining.

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5-axis safety