Injection Mould Making More Productive With 5 Axis Machining Technology

Tuesday 23rd October 2012 12:00pm

The use of 5 Axis Machining techniques are now routine in most modern engineering shops when accuracy is vital to the success of the final product. While this technology wasn’t initially considered for injection mould making, this is rapidly changing as there are similar benefits in mould making to be had as in other applications. Tedious set-up procedures which were time-consuming and prone to error have been eliminated and the ability to machine 5 sides of a piece in the same set-up has increased productivity. The facility to integrate the injection mould design into the programming and actual machining has reduced the incidences of human error and produces a better product with a cleaner finish.

There is a steep learning curve with 5 axis machining for new operators, and one of the areas where a new player can have difficulty is in holding the work piece so that five sides of the piece can be machined effectively. The following information on the two most common methods may be of assistance to new operators:

Mechanical Clamping Systems

These are the most common systems, and resemble a vice but with extra clamping force. This method allows minimal interference with the cutting area and enables the exposed surfaces to be machined with a high degree of accuracy.

This clamping system can hold small to medium sized work pieces quite easily, but for larger pieces, a riser is recommended in order to reach the work piece. These are not common type clamps but highly engineered pieces of equipment which apply force were it is most needed. Additional security is provided by the use of pointed grippers in the vice jaws.

Magnetic Systems

A common method is to fix the work piece to a magnetic pedestal. Because the work piece is then elevated, the 5 sides can be machined in one set-up, which also dramatically reduces the margin for error. The machining process does not affect the magnetic pull because the 5 axis high speed method requires higher spindle speeds, lighter chip loads, and faster feeds. These reduce torque and cutter pressure, so there is no danger of the work piece moving while being machined.

Another method is the use of magnetic pallets which enable the movement of the work piece from one machine to another. This method requires careful planning and design at the outset, but pays dividends in the savings gained during the manufacturing process.

Business owners who invest in high-end 5 axis machines and then skimp on the cost of work piece holding systems will not get the full benefit of the efficiency and productivity gains available with this machining technology. Operators at CNC Townsville workshops are already proving that these systems are worth the investment.