American Machinist

Smooth road for rough machining molds: software strategy slashes programming and rough machining times for molds. (Software)(Cover Story).

Moldmakers typically cut molds and dies on machining centers by progressing from larger tools, which handle the bulk of stock removal, to smaller ones that add detail and prepare molds for finish machining, with each tool programmed as an independent operation. But is this the best way to machine molds? Not anymore, says Surfware Inc., Westlake Village, Calif., which has developed a new roughing software strategy that could shake up the world of traditional moldmaking.

Rather than programming and running roughing as series of independent toolpath operations, Step Reduction Milling (SRM) optimizes the machining process as a whole, it allows mold shops to cut rough machining time in half and decrease NC-programming time as much as 90%. These timesavings, in turn, should boost the bottom line for many shops. "For an average shop running four CNC machine tools," speculates Tom Bentley, president of Programming Plus, one of the nation's largest CAM software dealers, "the use of SRM could translate into annual savings of $40,000 to $50,000. …

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