Avery Fabrication and Material Conservation Laboratory

MasterCAM Surfacing Tutorial

‘Surfacing’ is a machining operation in which a 3D contoured surface is carved from a block of stock material through a series of cuts. Typically this is done in two operations, a ‘Rough’ pass and a ‘Finish’ pass. The purpose of the ‘Rough’ pass is to remove as much material in as quick of time as possible, this is typically done with a large bit and gives a rough couduroy texture to the material. Often the process is stopped after the ‘Rough’ process, and if the roughing operation is done with a small enough bit the surface smoothness may be suitable for many applications. If a smoother finished surface is desirable a second series of cuts can be made with a smaller bit at a tighter interval giving a smooth polished surface. This tutorial covers the basic operations needed to do a ‘Rough’ tool path based on a generic 3D surface.

Surface Creation 1) The creation of an appropriate surface for machining is the first step in the ‘Surfacing’ operation. As you prepare your surface the modeling environment should be set so the Z-axis is vertical and the working units are inches/feet. The optimal surface for machining is NURBS based, this can be created in Maya, Rhino or 3DMax. The surface should be placed with the highest point on the surface is just below the XY plane. The mill will treat the XY plane as the top of the material, anything above the XY plane will not be cut. The part should also be positioned entirely in the positive XY quadrant (upper right quadrant) of the axis 2) Once you have modeled a surface it must be exported as a file in IGES format. If possible it is suggested you select the individual elements to be CNC milled and export only those pieces, avoiding the exporting of lights, cameras, other objects, etc. Positioning the surface in X,Y and Z

Exporting the surface as an IGES file

a file dialog box should appear. Once you can see your entire model in plan it is a good idea to verify that it imported with the correct scale and in the correct position. Importing the IGES file into MasterCAM Verifying the scale of the surface Verifying the part location relative to the XY plane . You piece should be below the XY plane and in the top right quadrant of the axis. click ‘OK”. Locate your IGES file and open it. A second dialog box with ‘IGES Read Parameters’ will appear. unless you are importing your file into an existing MasterCAM model. leave all the settings as they are and click ‘OK’. select ‘Analyze’ from the main menu.File Import and Preparation 1) Once you have an IGES file you can quit your 3D modeling application and open MasterCAM Mill. 2) Zoom out to view the entire model by clicking the ‘Screen Fit’ button (the ninth button from the left at the top of the interface). the axis will appear. If the distance is correct then your piece imported with the proper scale. the distance between those points will be displayed in the dialog area at the bottom of the screen. Click with the mouse on two points on the piece. To measure the piece. You will be prompted to ‘Delete Current Part’. Your model should now appear in plan view. or a know dimension of a portion of the piece. From ‘Analyze’ choose ‘Between Pts’ and ‘Sketch’. 3) Once you have verified the scale you can change the view to a 3D view by clicking on the ‘GView Isometric’ button (the twelfth button from the left in the top row). To import your new file in the MasterCAM select ‘File’ -> ‘Converters’ -> ‘IGES’ -> ‘Read File’. you will need to scale your piece in MasterCAM before you begin the tool-path. To verify the piece is in the correct position hit ‘F9’ on the keyboard. if not. To verify the scale measure the overall dimension of the piece.

4) Next click the ‘Rough Parameters’ tab to bring up all the rough surfacing settings. but you will run the risk of breaking Selecting the drive surfaces for toolpathing Choosing the proper milling bit Setting the roughing parameters . Using a larger stepdown will decrease the cutting time. Click OK to return to the ‘Tool parameters’ dialog box. From there select ‘Tool-paths’ -> ‘Surface’ -> ‘Rough’ -> ‘Parallel’ -> ‘Unspecified’. This does not affect the finish as in the stepover. Once you have selected your surface click ‘Done’. For a quarter-inch bit the stepdown would be one quarter inch. For example. A good rule-of-thumb for the step-down increment is to use the diameter of the bit. The ‘Max Stepover’ is the distance the bit moves over each time it makes a machining pass. a quarter-inch bit would have an eighth-inch stepover. the more overlap between cuts and consequently the smoother the finish on the piece – and the longer the cut time. a new dialog box will appear. we’ll choose a 1/8” diameter. The smaller the stepover. this determines the amount of overlap with the previous cut. choose ‘Get tool from library…’ from the contextual menu. The ‘Stepdown’ is the increment used for each vertical step. 2) Next you will be prompted to select the ‘Drive Surfaces’. 3) In the new dialog box right-click in the white box in the middle. In this dialog box you must enter the ‘Max Stepover’ and the ‘Max Stepdown’. The thickness of the layers is the stepdown increment. but instead is a factor of cutting speed and material hardness. Since this is a surfacing operation you will was an ‘Spherical’ or ‘Ball’ endmill. As a rule-of-thumb a good stepover is one-half of the diameter of the bit. To select the surfaces click on one of its edges using the mouse. Select the tool you wish to use. Unless milling through a soft material the machine cannot typically cut down to the level of the finish surface with just a single pass. these are the surfaces that you wish to machine. typically the material has to be taken off in layers.Creating the Tool-path 1) Return to the ‘Main Menu’ by clicking the ‘Main Menu’ button on the left side of the interface.

Close the text editing window. In the diaglog box you can also select whether to cut ‘One-way’ or ‘Zig-zag’. This means that the generic tool-path information must be converted to machining-code specific to the CNC milling machine that the school owns. The file will be saved and a text editor will open with the Gcode for your review. Post-processing the toolpath to generate the NC file Generating the toolpath Verifying the toolpath .125 inch step down and a . In the ‘Operations’ dialog box select the button labeled ‘Post’. Select ‘Zig-zag’ for this example. Check ‘Save NC File’ and click ‘OK’. The NC file you have created can now be transferred to the mill for cutting. For this example we will use . Using ‘One-way’ means that the cutter will only cut in one direction as it moves backand-forth across the material. Clicking on the play button will play the simulation. 2) To export your file for machining you must ‘post-process’ the file. You can select ‘Verify’ and the toolpath will disappear and a rendered block of material will appear on screen as well as a playback controller. To view a simulation of your toolpath cutting select ‘Operations’ from the ‘Toolpaths’ menu. This may be important if your material has a grain.0625 step over. If you cannot find the ‘Toolpaths’ menu you can click on the ‘Main Menu’ button. If the playback is too quick you can adjust the slider on the right to change the speed. Analyzing and exporting the tool-path 1) After you have created your tool-path you can use some of the tools built into MasterCAM to analyze is performance.the bit. Your tool-path should be automatically generated. The ‘Zig-zag’ method cuts in both direction as it moves back-and-forth. click ‘OK. this will open the ‘Post processing’ dialog box. making the machining time quicker. This post-process operation is found under ‘Toolpaths’>’Operations’ from the main menu. The ‘Operations’ button will open a dialog box listing all the paths in your model. click ‘Done’. 5) After entering the machining parameters and clicking ‘OK’ you will be prompted to select the ‘Tool Containment Boundary’. You will be prompted to save your file.

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