For their application efficiency, die and mold tools machining requires techniques that ensure high tolerance and surface quality and integrity. Save for the initial timing inefficiencies, 5-axis machining is gaining importance in die and mold manufacturing due to its accuracy and tooling optimization capabilities. Unlike conventional machining approaches, 5-axis machining supports simultaneous mold and die tool processing regardless of the complexity.
Here we assess the rapidly growing use of 5-axis CNC machining in the die and mold industry including its applications, driving factors, merits, and challenges. We also offer an empirical perspective on the technique and future projections on its use in the die and mold industry.
Achieving Complex Geometries in Die and Mold Manufacturing
5-axis CNC machining is more efficient for complex geometries in the die and mold manufacturing process. Die and mold parts comprise small and intricate geometrical details due to their versatility in the parts manufacturing industry. The functioning, finishing, shape, and final form of mold depend on the type of machining method.
With high precision needs, manufacturers in the die and mold industry are increasingly using computer-assisted manufacturing (CAM) capabilities of 5-axis machining to automate cutting strategies and enhance feed rate during the machining process. The technique helps achieve high-speed die and mold manufacturing due to effective tool holding capabilities and rapid spindle speeds of up to 50, 000 rpm. Since 5-axis machining also works best with shorter tools, manufacturers in the die and mold industry can tilt these tools and access their parts more efficiently.
Similarly, die and mold parts are more likely to benefit from the milling capabilities of 5-axis machining that ensure enhanced surface finishing. Without interfering with productivity, 5-axis machining enables the production of high-quality die and mold surfaces through the use of shorter cutting tools.
Lower Tooling Costs and High Precision Control
5-axis machining bypasses the multiple steps undertaken in traditional machining and manual input. Mold makers continue to appreciate the capabilities of 5-axis machining in fixture reapplication, and error minimization due to the replacement of manual interventions during the machining process.
Similarly, 5-axis CNC machining enables reduced set-up and programming time, thereby lead time and saving associated costs. Companies involved in large volume production of die and mold parts adopt 5-axis machining strategies to increase their productivity through streamlined manufacturing processes.
Tool center point control with 5-axis machining improves machining accuracy. Unlike traditional machining techniques that have realignment in their process, 5-axis machining occurs within a single setup that does not require product realignment. Eliminating realignment along with other steps increases die and mold machining precision. Additionally, with precise and rapid tooling capabilities, mold manufacturers have discovered that 5-axis machining can also improve tool life.
External Drivers for 5-axis Machining Growth in Die and Mold Industry
Market demands and machining technology advancements have also contributed to the rapid growth of 5-axis machining in the die and mold industry. The current manufacturing industry requires the production of customized and geometrically complex molds, necessitating the use of 5-axis machining over other traditional methods. In the production of molds with cavity, core, and core holder plate, for instance, large cavity depth and appropriate surface finish require the use of 5-axis machining.
Further, technological advancements such as the use of computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) with industry 4.0 have essentially driven the use of more compatible strategies such as 5-axis machining. Previously there was less uptake of the technique due to incompatibility between complex surface geometries and tool vectors. However, with advanced CAD and CAM, 5-axis machining strategies can be used in die and mold creation in a timely and efficient manner.
Current Uptake, Challenges, and Future Trends
With machine parts getting more complex and customized, die and mod makers are compelled to use the equally efficient 5-axis machining strategy to customer short-time and product precision demands. Japan-based mold maker Makino states that 5-axis machining has the capability of reducing the cycle for a mold lifter cutting from 59 minutes to 13 minutes. This observation affirms the efficiency and rapid uptake of the technique in the die and mold industry.
On the other hand, die and mold manufacturers have raised concerns about the initial cost of purchase and implementation of 5-axis machining technology, including integration with CAM programs, and expertise needed for its maintenance and calibration. However, these challenges are manageable and justified, especially for large-scale die and mold production.
Further, these challenges may be overcome by technological advances in the future, such as the growth of the internet and connectivity. These changes are likely to make 5-axis machining more efficient and applicable due to automation with Industry 4.0.
The essential use of die and mold in machine manufacturing has made them a mainstay in an industry primarily dependent on machining techniques. 5-axis machining capabilities have made the technique an essential strategy used to make geometrically intricate and more efficient die and mold parts. The technique also enables a timely product life cycle.
The rapid growth of 5-axis machining in the die and mold industry is currently driven by its efficiency and external factors such as technology advancements. Despite challenges related to initial costs, 5-axis machining is likely to become more efficient in the future.