Generally speaking, five-axis machining is complex and requires a lot of expertise and substantial investment, not only in the machine itself, but also in CAM and simulation software. Some machine builders also offer the required software, but others do not. With some machines, it is included as part of the standard package; with others, it is an option at an added cost. Many customers jump into full five-axis machining only to discover later that the CAD/CAM and simulation software were not included in the initial package.
Options such as 3D cutter compensation are also available. This option enables the user to insert a tool offset into the control, say 0.002 inch, rather than change each tool-diameter setting. For years, you couldn’t use cutter compensation once the program rotated one of the axes. Today’s cutter-compensation software will keep the tool center point right on the surface, no matter which axis is moved or rotated.
Offline simulation software contained in a high-quality CAM software package can be extremely helpful to verify a five-axis machining process and avoid collisions, as it can be difficult for a programmer to mentally visualize all possible collision points among the tool, fixture and part when working in five axes.
Today’s cutter-compensation software will keep the tool center point right on the surface, no matter which axis is moved or rotated.