Feature Story: High Efficiency Machining

September 7, 2017 No Comments
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The Numbers Tell The Story

by Roger Peterson

toc_features50pxWhen it comes to High Efficiency Machining (HEM), quantifiable results tell the story.

What is HEM?

  • HEM is existing, easily-adapted software that integrates new roughing programs and advanced cutting tools for less tool wear and more material removal.
  • Material scientists long have known that radial chip thinning (RCT) will reduce tool wear and increase material removal at the same time; but, in the past, it could only be used on the simplest of parts.
  • Today, advances in manufacturing software, generally called high efficiency machining (HEM), or constant engagement machining or dynamic motion, now make it practical for parts of any shape and shops of any size.

FOUR HEM Material Removal Technologies

  1. Reasonably rigid CNC machine tools with repeatable feeds and speeds (not necessarily high speed).
  2. High-end cutting tools with geometries and coatings created to remove specific grades of material.
  3. Responsive machine controllers that can adapt quickly to dense sets of CNC program instructions.
  4. Material-aware CAM software technology that has the intelligence to generate CNC programs quickly based on actual material conditions ahead of the tool, and then rapidly adapt the machine and tool motions to maintain a constant chip load.

Time_Money hi rez

Who Benefits?

Who benefits from HEM? Any shop using a CNC mill or lathe machine because of the easy, rapid implementation, typically in just one day.

  • Currently, most precision manufacturers have at least some machines or cells where they can make use of constant chip load roughing strategies.
  • Getting up to speed is a relatively low hurdle – many firms already have the software as part of their CAD/CAM platform, and only minimal time is required to learn and implement it.

Several major CAD/CAM software firms have developed their own HEM strategies. Others may have the ability to integrate third party plug-ins to achieve some level of HEM. Check with your current vendor for options.  pm_endmarkblue-e1320337140493


Top 10 HEM Benefits

The payback for implementing HEM is substantial and immediate. Shops can typically implement it in one day.

  1. Increase tool life: By a factor of up to 10 times.
  2. Reduce machine cycle time: By 50 percent or more.
  3. Program faster: Manufacturers report that what used to take hours now can often take just minutes.
  4. Reduce overall carbide tool purchasing costs: Three to 10 times longer tool life and the ability to use smaller, less expensive tools at higher material removal rates typically generate significant annual savings.
  5. Minimize finishing operations: High removal rates using smaller cutting tools allow more areas of the part to be accessed with a single cutting tool and roughing operation, which reduces or eliminates finishing requirements.
  6. Lower machine horsepower: High torque is not essential when material is removed at less than 50 percent step overs and deeper step downs – this extends equipment life.
  7. Run lights-out with greater confidence: Expanding the percentage of work that can be done unattended can lower labor costs and reduce the pace of capital equipment acquisition.
  8. Machine thin-walled components: HEM algorithms look ahead and continually modify tool movements to minimize forces that could distort thin walls. Structural integrity is maintained while removing large volumes of material at high rates.
  9. Minimize wear and tear on the machine: HEM milling minimizes spindle load, chatter and vibration, which prolongs machine life and lengthens intervals between calibrations.
  10. Program to the best-cut instead worst-cut condition: As opposed to looking for the worst-case roughing scenario, HEM finds the best cut condition for optimal reduced tool wear and increased material removal rate.

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ROGER PETERSON is a senior Mastercam training and support consultant at Prototek Engineering, a Chaska-based CAD/CAM provider. He can be reached at 952-391-5598 or rpeterson@prototek-engineering.com.

Copyright © 2017 Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association. For permission to use or reprint this article please contact Nancy Huddleston, publications manager for Precision Manufacturing Journal.

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