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SIMULATION Achieving process optimisation through simulation

Feb 25, 2021

Process optimisation comes down to connecting all machining tasks together to assess the complete manufacturing process. When simulation comes into the picture, the optimisation is boosted, and NC programs do not have any errors. The article by CGTECH India, a company specialising in numerical control (NC/CNC) simulation, verification, optimisation and analysis software technology for manufacturing, tells us how VERICUT CNC simulation and verification software finds problems lurking in NC programs and how VERICUT Force recalculates feed rates to maintain ideal constant chip thickness while simultaneously reducing feed rates.

Process optimisation links all the machining operations end-to-end to evaluate and improve the entire manufacturing process. Each step along the way, through engineering, design, CAM programming & machining and up to the final quality & inspection phase, can and should be optimised. Simulation ensures programs are error-free and all operations work together as intended, but optimisation ensures the whole process is operating as efficiently as possible to save time & money.

As machining gets more complex and customers expect more for less, there is room for improvement in any manufacturing process. These improvements, which are not just about reducing costs, might include reduced NC program runtimes, increased throughput, making parts cheaper or getting a product from start to finish and out to the market faster.

There are some very significant warning signs that will indicate when process optimisation is clearly a must in a manufacturing business. Missing delivery dates? Losing out on bids or not as competitive as rivals? Lost contracts and unsatisfied customers? Or declining profits? Every level of the manufacturing process that a job goes through requires careful planning & communication, and the aim of manufacturing is to make it through each step as quickly & efficiently as possible with the least cost incurred. In a typical manufacturing workflow, VERICUT resides between CAM programming and machine set-up.

Manufacturing workflow

CAM programmers know that modern machines move so fast that it’s pretty much impossible to stop them before a crash occurs. VERICUT CNC simulation and verification software does a superior job at finding problems lurking in NC programs and warning of unexpected machine behaviour, even those occurring between multiple set-ups. It lets programmers resolve these issues before it reaches the shop floor, crashes the machine and wastes valuable machine time.

With VERICUT, the shop floor can be confident that programs will run correctly. Verification will show if there are any errors or any areas that can’t be reached by the machine or tools due to fixturing interference. Machinists don’t have to worry about crashes, and they don’t have to waste time proving out because it’s already been done between the VERICUT and programming stages.

Having access to the free VERICUT reviewer at the machine tool to check the simulation against reality at any time is a huge benefit to both the shop floor and programmers, as it avoids the ‘what happens next’ disturbances during one-off or first-off production. There’s also a positive ripple effect for other departments that coordinate with programming. Engineering and design can learn through verification if parts can be manufactured or if changes need to be made before metal cutting. Planning & scheduling will have more accurate cycle times, and they won’t have to schedule prove-out times on machines. The quality control and inspection team can expect higher conformance levels & fewer issues, making it easier to approve parts & get them delivered. These are all the areas where the software is helping save time and money.

Silent killers of NC manufacturing

But there are also the hidden issues, inefficiencies and missed opportunities to optimise processes that erode profit margins. Things like poor cutting methods, non-optimal feed rates in new & existing NC programs, over or underutilising cutters and/or machine tools, all of which can be draining money with every part made. Some companies work really hard and very diligently, optimising programs but there are opportunities & savings to be had for all machine shops.

This is where force and force analysis charts come in.

Force analysis & charts

VERICUT Force recalculates feed rates to maintain ideal constant chip thickness while simultaneously reducing feed rates when needed to maintain safe cutting forces & spindle power, and it does this for each tool. Force is based on calculations and proven cutting data gathered from tooling manufacturers, material specifications and dyno testing.

It uses very specific cutting parameters, takes into consideration what kind of material is being used, as well as tool type & geometry. It couples this with the cutting conditions that the software collects to give the best data that can be used to analyse and optimise the NC program.

Force charts visualise what’s happening during the machining process and expose areas of opportunity that exist in each NC program, such as erratic chip thickness, chip thinning and inefficient CAM paths that can all be resolved by optimising feed rates. The charts also show areas of concern; for instance where the force exceeds what the tool is capable of, such as excessive cutting conditions or potential for chatter, broken/chipped cutters or damage to part of the machine. In these instances, VERICUT Force will lower the feed rate to keep the force under the limit of the tools’ capability.

Where optimising leads

The impact of optimising is dramatic, including reduced machining time and longer tool life, which will help the shop floor by giving more machine capacity & maybe even postponing the purchase of a new expensive machine. There will be less post-machine clean up because produced parts will be better quality saving even more time per part. Programmers are going to benefit from having correct speeds and feeds information to achieve consistent machining results. All these positives reach all the way back to the quoting & estimating, which mean manufacturers can be more aggressive and competitive with schedules & bids.

Simulating, verifying and optimising simultaneously with VERICUT Force equates to a cumulative effect on process optimisation, resulting in significant time & money savings.

Courtesy: CGTECH India

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  • Having access to the free VERICUT reviewer at the machine tool to check the simulation against reality at any time is a huge benefit to both the shop floor and programmers, as it avoids the ‘what happens next’ disturbances during one off or first off production

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