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Generating the Code

The job of the CAM system is to generate the machining processes and the precise path that the
tool
must follow to accurately reproduce the shape of the 3D solid model without the tool or the
machine
colliding with the part or with itself. A series of “roughing passes” with large-diameter fast-cutting
tools quickly removes most of the stock material. Additional “finishing passes” bring out the final
shape of the part (see Fig. 9.3).
Based on the shape of the cutting tool, the finishing passes are a set of curves through which the
tool tip must pass. For a round tool, this is a simple offset of the 3D part surface. For a flat or
bullnosed
cutter, the offset constantly changes with the 3D shape of the part. Successive curves are
generated
based on the diameter of the tool, the hardness of the material, and the available cutting power
of the machine. The same holds true for the depth of the cut.
Parts with flat faces and pockets with vertical sides can be very accurately machined. Parts with
complex three-dimensional surfaces require many multiple passes with progressively smaller tools
to achieve an acceptable finish. The difference between the desired surface and the machined
surface
can often be seen as a series of scallops left behind by a round cutter. If necessary, these scallops
can
be removed with hand grinding or benching to achieve the desired surface finish.
Holes make up a large part of production machining operations, and so most CAM systems offer
special functions for making holes. Hole tables allow the CAM programmer to quickly specify a