HEXAGON MANUFACTURING INTELLIGENCE division released a new machine-simulation software to address five-axis machine instability, so manufacturers can achieve finished-part quality without sacrificing productivity. Enhancements to the NCSIMUL software, which serves as a digital twin of a specific machine to plan and optimize its numerical control (NC) programming, so machinists are able to determine the location of the five-axis singularity point and avoid it for the first time.
This development follows customer requests for assistance in ensuring a high-quality surface finish on their completed parts. According to Hexagon, this is particularly important when machining aerospace turbine blades and impellers (noting that five-axis continuous cutting is used for 80 percent of aerospace parts) along with complex automotive and oil-and-gas parts.
When the toolpath generated by CAM software passes through, or near to, the singularity point, the machine tool behaves erratically. The machine can vibrate, causing ‘chatter marks’ on the component being machined, which affects the quality of the surface finish.
In order to do the job right the first time and reduce cycle times to meet delivery times, it is necessary to stop the singularity point.
The new NCSIMUL release helps to predict the singularity point. By predicting the lines of code where there may be problems with vibrations and surface quality, programs can be improved by modifying cutting strategy parameters or changing strategies altogether. It also helps manufacturers to optimize the stock position and orientation, which affect the achievable cutting feed rate of five-axis continuous trajectories, leading to cutting factors that can differ significantly from the CAM program for a given machine.
“Singularity point analysis makes it possible to achieve the required surface quality for complex parts virtually, before going to the shop floor to cut the first part,” according to Philippe Legoupi, product owner, Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division. “NCSIMUL also now simulates the performance of the target machine to evaluate when the five-axis cutting factor is close to 100 percent, so that users can modify the stock orientation and position to achieve the desired feed rate.
“Armed with these two capabilities, manufacturers can now decrease five-axis cycle times and achieve consistent quality for any part,” Legoupi added.
A new material-specific optimization tool, Optipower, was introduced last November that optimizes the program and limits the power necessary to remove material. In NCSIMUL 2021.1, Optipower now calculates the cutting force applied to the tool’s external contact point, ensuring the maximum force of the tool is not exceeded, specifically for the tangential cutting force. It also extends tool life, reducing tooling costs.
This data is fully utilized, Legoupi explained. “We’re working to make manufacturing smarter through better use of simulation data. The maximum torque and cutting force for each machining sequence are integrated into the analysis report, and progress can be monitored with a force-time graph visualization. This data is also used to define a minimum ‘feed by tooth’ to avoid being below the minimum chip.”
Other enhancements to the latest release improve productivity through faster simulation after making changes, along with greater automation and scripting flexibility. Now, data can be sent from the user’s CAM system to NCSIMUL 2021.1 without any adjustment before launching verification, meaning NC-programmers can start debugging the G-code file during programming, and seamlessly go back and forth between CAM and simulation.
Also, new intermediate stock management functionality ensures the simulation will always start from the last updated intermediate, saving hours of simulation time. When loading a new version of the G-code file, NCSIMUL automatically stores the previous file, and compares both records at the end of decoding. Learn more at www.ncsimul.com