The 2012 version of the PowerMill CAM system for high-speed and five-axis machining features a flowline machining option that divides the tool path between a pair of drive curves in a constant number of passes rather than having a varying number of passes with a constant stepover. The tool path will have its start and end passes on the drive curves with the intermediate passes blending between them. According to the company, this approach gives smoother results because it ensures that each pass travels over the full length of the area rather than leaving the part or making major direction changes during the pass. It produces a better surface finish on the part and minimizes wear on the cutter and the machine tool, the company says.
Flowline machining can be applied across part of a surface, across a complete single surface or across multiple surfaces. Intermediate curves can be added between the boundaries of the area for greater control over the tool paths for complex fillets or when machining gently curved surfaces to a smooth finish.
Other enhancements include the ability use Bezier curves rather than polylines when sketching geometry; more control over the clearance distances applied to the cutter and its holder; a spiral machining strategy added to an optional module for automated machining of blades, blisks and impellors; optional control of the angular point distribution; and thread-milling options.