A technology platform for the fast machining of freeform surfaces using circle segment end mills
Project start: Aug 2017
Project ended: Jul 2019
The aim of the FlexiMill project is to develop a turnkey technology platform for making novel and superior circle-segment-end-mills (also known as “barrel-tools”) for milling complex parts. Using circle-segment-end-mills significantly increases the flexibility and productivity of industrial milling processes (>400% productivity). The technology platform uses a threefold approach, combining the development of optimized tools, software and process knowledge.
UEFISCDI – Executive Agency for Higher education, Reasearch, Development and Innovation Funding
Contract Nr. 64 / 2017
Total value from UEFISCDI
Total value (own resources)
Contract Total Value
Project Stages Details
Project Stage 1 – End 2017
- WP3.1 – Definition of technological specifications for computer-aided machining
During this stage, the needed technical features of the software module where determined, and first layouts of the individual steps for the development where made. Each step consists of one or more development items. This allowed ModuleWorks to start the work on WP3 process planning. To initiate the development, the items where entered into the ModuleWorks development Roadmap and associated to separate development cases. To coordinate the cases with the development team and the project management, MW uses Confluence for Management and Jira for the case coordination.
Project Stage 2 – End 2018
- WP3.2 – Development of an automated toolpath calculation algorithm
- WP3.3 – Integration of milling tool parametric design
- WP4.1 – Adaptation of machining simulation software to circle segments end mill geometries
During this stage, Module Works did the development of the algorithms needed to geometrically describe circle-segment-end-milling tools and use such tools in process planning software. All developments have been integrated into ModuleWorks CAM environment, which is already available for FlexiMill partners – IPT and CAMAIX. Therefore, a toolpath calculation algorithm for 5-axis milling with the circle-segment-end-milling tools has been developed and implemented. Also, the newest libraries for the cutting simulation core have been provided to the Fraunhofer IPT. The Fraunhofer IPT has transferred its knowledge of the process during the development and implementation phases.
ModuleWorks has further extended its software to support computation of tool-workpiece engagement (and chip volume computation). The second output format for the profile-based engagement analysis has been developed. It is based on boxes and it is more exact than using just the angles. Besides, new helper API classes have been developed and introduced in the latest release.
Project Stage 3 – July 2019
- WP5 – Integration of FlexiMILL Process Planning System
Module Works has finalized the last remaining developments that were focusing of on the optimization of the previous developments in order to facilitate integration of Module Works’ software libraries into the Integrated FlexiMill System.
Module Works has developed and improved software interfaces (API) to support integration of software libraries developed in WP3, which include new classes for different definitions of barrel tools and cutter-workpiece engagement computation. Besides, Module Works has developed and improved graphic user interface (GUI) to support Human Machine Interaction for the newly implemented definitions of the barrel tool. Module Works was also supporting other partners in the testing phase. As part of the developments, a dedicated machine model and postprocessor to convert 3D coordinates into machine commands has been created for computer validation of the developed machining strategies.
Further Project Details
The proposed project (FlexiMILL) aims to develop a turnkey ready technology platform to make novel and superior circle-segment-end-mills (also known as “barrel-tools”) usable in the milling of complex parts. By using circle-segment-end-mills the flexibility and productivity of industrial milling processes can be increased significantly (>400% productivity). The technology platform encompasses a threefold approach, combining the development of optimized tools, software and process knowledge.
The manufacturing of geometrically complex products with freeform surfaces is often done by extensive 5-axis-machining operations. 5-axis-machining of freeform surfaces (roughing, finishing) with state-of-the-art ball-end-mills is very time intensive though. Circle-segment-end-mills can reduce cutting time by 78%. However, a reliable and efficient use of those mills for the machining of complex geometries is not possible though as a technical turnkey ready solution is missing yet.
The FlexiMILL technology platform will be sold twofold:
- Exploitation of optimized, superior circle-segment-end-mills (hardware)
- Exploitation of process-planning and machining knowledge (CAM-software)
- Significantly increased geometric flexibility in circle segment end milling
- Reduced manufacturing time of milled parts between 40%-60% at the same surface quality
- Increased surface quality of milled parts between 60%-80% at the same machining time
- Reduced overall manufacturing costs of milled parts between 20%-30%
- Reduced tool consumption and tool costs (applied tools can be used more efficiently)
- Reduced unproductive tool changes
- Reduced waste and reduced consumption of rare resources (carbides, coolant, energy, etc.)