MoldMaking Technology

SEP 2018

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moldmakingtechnology.com 25 workpiece, there is very little of the crash potential that is common in traditional machining. While that statement is valid for some additive machines, the reality is much deeper. On metal-based additive machines especially, build rates are quite slow. You might spend tens or even hundreds of hours printing a part only to find that you missed something during the design process, used an incorrect recipe of additive parameters or wish that you had built some- thing differently. Then there is the ques- tion about which would be faster: building a part addi- tively or through tradition- al fixturing and machining. More effective cost quot- ing up front is necessary for your shop to answer this question correctly and with confidence. Why would you not want to spend a few min- utes simulating the build ahead of time to make sure that your expensive machine tool does not just waste thousands of dol- lars building something that will head straight to the recycling bin? Simulation also provides one final chance to review the "as-printed" design. If there is a question, you can revisit the build parameters or consult with the customer and avoid the unpleasant phone call you might otherwise have to make later. Moving to the Next Level Hopefully, your shop is already leveraging toolpath simula- tion software to verify and optimize traditional machine tools. If that is the case, then you already know that the best way to verify how a machine will react to one of your tool paths is to simulate the actual post-processed G-code that will drive the machine. No more do you wonder whether an unexpected hiccup in the post-processor will send a half-inch ballnose end mill careening into the workpiece. Gouging and uncut material is clearly identified as are wasted motion and less-than-ideal machining values. These benefits extend to additive manufacturing as well. Building a part that does not match the intended design and errors like leaving voids and unexpected material are clearly visible. Laser activity, including things like gas flow, wattage and powder deposition, is no longer a guessing game. You can maintain detailed build history for archival purposes or to conduct a post-build forensic analysis in the event of a failure. You can quickly reveal the precise identification of root-cause NC program, tool (additive or subtractive) and block of NC code with a single mouse click. There are even more reasons to simulate with a hybrid additive machine. Collision avoidance comes back into play but takes on a new level of complexity as metal is added to and subtracted from the workpiece. You can watch the entire manufacturing process virtually. You can stop and restart it at any time, rewind or fast-forward as you need, zoom into problem areas and visualize each discrete step of the hybrid additive machining cycle. Looking Ahead Maybe you are not ready yet, and the thought of spending a million dollars or more for completely new manufacturing technology (that is, at least, new to you) has you lying awake at night. With simulation, you can eliminate much of the Simulation aids NC programmers by showing when planned setups or the sequence of operations will not work to manufacture the part. Since simulation is run offline at a programmer's desk, there is no need to tie up expensive hybrid equipment on prove-outs. If there is a question, you can revisit the build parameters or consult with the customer and avoid the unpleasant phone call you might otherwise have to make later.

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