5-Axis Machining with Rotary Tables

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

In This Issue:
Feature Story: 5-Axis Machining with Rotary Tables
Fanuc Tips & Tricks
Our Renishaw Probe & Laser Department is Expanding!
Cincinnati Skin Mill Retrofits Featured in Modern Machine Shop

5-Axis Machining with Rotary TablesFANUC Tech Bulletin 4 - 5-Axis Machining with Rotary Tables
Fanuc 5-axis machining offers a number of benefits; reducing setups, machining complex contours, eliminating or decreasing additional finishing work.  Today, 5-axis machines are more readily available, but a new 5-axis machine tool still requires a sizable investment.  Instead of purchasing a new 5-axis machine tool, resourceful manufacturers opt to upgrade an existing machining center by adding a 5th or 4th and 5th axis rotary table.
Any new machine with a FANUC control is capable of supporting both a 5th axis rotary table or a 4th and 5th axis rotary table but, depending on the exact control, there are some differences to consider. 

The Four-Plus-One Approach to 5-Axis Machining
The most common form of 5-axis machining is referred to as a four-plus-one configuration.  A CNC with four-plus-one capability allows the programmer to simultaneously machine with any four of the five FANUC Tech Bulletin 4 - 5-Axis Machining with Rotary Tablesaxes.  In a four-plus-one system, one axis must always be idle, but the selected axis can be changed at any point in the program.  For example, the first machining operation may involve the X, Y, Z and A axes and the second machining operation may use the X, Y, A and C axes.  Four-plus-one does not mean that one of the axes is indexing-only.  In a true four-plus-one system, each axis is a full CNC axis with contouring capabilities. 
Four-plus-one capable controls include most of the newer Fanuc 0, 18 and 21 series of controls, as well as the 32i-MA model.  These are the most common controls found on vertical machining centers.

Full Simultaneous 5-Axis Machining with Rotary Tables
While the four-plus-one approach to 5-axis machining is perfectly adequate for the vast majority of work-parts, some machining operations may require full simultaneous 5-axis machining.  Turbine blades FANUC Tech Bulletin 4 - 5-Axis Machining with Rotary Tablesare a typical example of a work-part that requires full simultaneous 5-axis machining.  With simultaneous 5-axis machining, all 5 axes can run simultaneously to cut complex contours in the work-part. 

The older FANUC 15 & 16 series controls, as well as the 18i-MB5, 31i-MA5 and 30i-MA controls are all capable of full simultaneous 5-axis machining.  These controls are commonly found on horizontal machining centers and boring mills because they are capable of controlling 5 axes simultaneously.  The FANUC 31i control, for example, can control up to 24 machine axes.  Due to the cost of these controls, it is fairly uncommon to find one on a vertical machining center.  Most OEMs do not offer these controls on vertical machining centers as standard, so the lead-time on a VMC with one of these simultaneous 5-axis capable controls may be very long.


Indexing Controllers for Rotary TablesFANUC Tech Bulletin 4 - 5-Axis Machining with Rotary Tables
Manufacturers considering a 4th or 4th and 5th axis upgrade to an existing machine should be aware of the limitations found with older FANUC controls, including the 0-M, 0i-MB, 18-MA and 21i-MA controls.  It is possible to interface a two-axis rotary table to these controls, but one axis must be an indexing-only axis.  Typically, the rotary table tilt axis gets this distinction.  An external indexing controller would often control this axis.  Indexing controllers can be set up to index through an M-code signal that simply tells the controller to index to the next pre-programmed position or it maybe possible to have the index command sent via the D-print statement function in the FANUC control.  The D-print statement allows the user the advantage of programming the index move from within the part program.  In this case, the FANUC control sends the index command to the indexing controller through the RS232 port.
Some four-axis controls allow the integration of a Beta I/O axis that, while indexing-only, is a fully integrated axis within the FANUC control.  The position is displayed on the FANUC screen and all FANUC functions apply, such as Jog and MDI functions.  The major limitation to any of these systems is that 5-axis contouring is not possible, and one axis has to be permanently designated as indexing-only.

FANUC Tech Bulletin 4 - 5-Axis Machining with Rotary Tables

If a manufacturer needs 5-axis machining capabilities and their CNC does not support 5-axes, they can always consider retrofitting the machine with a new FANUC control and a new rotary table.  This option may not be practical in all cases, but if the machine tool is mechanically sound, the cost of a 5th axis rotary table and a control upgrade may be an attractive alternative to purchasing a new 5-axis machining center.  


FANUC Tips & Tricks

When using macro variables, a variable that is blank will not always yield the same results as a variable that is set to 0. 
Original command: G90X100.Y#1
Equivalent command when #1 = : G90X100.
Equivalent command when #1 = 0 : G90X100.Y0.

A variable can be tested or set to by using either #0 or #3100. Both these variables are always and cannot be written to.
To test a variable: If #100 = #0 (or #3100) GOTO 9999
To set a variable: #100 = #0 (or #3100)

Our Probe & Laser Department is Expanding!

We are pleased to announce the newest member of the CNC Engineering team, Elisa Turlo.  Elisa is here to assist all of our customers with the full line of Renishaw products.FANUC Tech Bulletin 4 - 5-Axis Machining with Rotary Tables

CNC Engineering is the exclusive Renishaw Distributor Integrator (RDI) for the Northeast region, although we offer Renishaw Probing Solutions throughout North America.  Our online Renishaw Parts Locator tool has been updated with the latest Renishaw products, including Machine Tool Probes, Lasers and Styli.  

Please visit our website, www.cnc1.com, to learn more about our turnkey CNC Probe & Laser Solutions.

CNC Engineering Featured in Modern Machine Shop Magazine

FANUC Tech Bulletin 4 - 5-Axis Machining with Rotary TablesCNC Engineering is retrofitting nine Cincinnati skin mills for Boeing.  Before the retrofits, utilizing FANUC 30i series controls, unplanned downtime had a negative ripple effect on overall plant productivity.  After the retrofit, tests showed that cycle time has been reduced by 56%.

Click here to visit Modern Machine Shop online and read the full story...

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