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Fanuc Learning Lab: Making Aerospace Parts

Creating modern aerospace parts is incredibly complex. That’s why Fanuc Inc. broke down the aerospace parts manufacturing process into several parts, and devoted several Learning Lab sessions to it at imX. The sessions are being repeated throughout the show. In a session covered by Cutting Tool Engineering magazine, Rick Schultz, program manager, aerospace—aerostructures for Fanuc Inc., Hoffman Estates, Ill., examined how to improve the CAD/CAM process to making cutting aerospace parts more accurate and more productive.

The manufacturing process starts with a part being designed in CAD software, which is converted to CAM software, which is then converted by a post processor into CNC interpolation. “Traditional CAD/CAM post processing takes a smooth toolpath, and turns it into a rough process,” said Schultz. “You may think you are programming on a thread line, but what you are actually doing is creating a toolpath with scallops in it. The traditional process actually represents the point at which the toolholder pivots, not the actual cutting tool tip.”

Schultz noted that, when asked to fix the problems associated with this type of process, “we would not tune the machine, we would de-tune it to make it not respond to all the variations.”  

Instead of the traditional part programming process, Fanuc recommends using CAM post-processing output interpolated as a spine, which recreates the original smooth toolpath. No program changes are required for tooling/featuring, and there is no need to repost, he said.

This new process allows the CNC to resolve machine kinematics (moving programming from the tool/holder pivot point to the cutting tool tip). He stressed that this program geometry can be used on all types of CNC machines.


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