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Thread: Educate me on 4th axis

  1. #1
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    Default Educate me on 4th axis

    I have a BP S2 CNC machine I have had up and running for almost 2 years now w/ leadshine drives and Mach 3/ PC controls.

    When I bought the machine it came with a 14" (IIRC) rotary table also stepper driven. The controls were originally setup to unplug the Y axis and plug in the rotary axis and still have only three axis control. I will still need a fourth drive, but other than that, I have everything to put the rotary axis back in place.

    From the research I am doing, I know that the CAM software has to support rotary machining, and that most packages in reach of the average hobbiest only allow for 3 axis at one time. I don't really have anything specific in mind for the rotary table, but I would like to get it up and running over the winter. I am thinking mostly I will be using it for cylindrical milling, but I have it in the back of my head that it might be nice to be able to use it for machining multiple faces and entry points into a part. It seems to me that the latter would require all four axis to be usable at the same time.

    So, my questions are, is Mach3 capable of running more than three axis simultaneously? Their software description says it can run 6, it has been a long time since I read the manual, but I was thinking it was still limited to only running three axis at one time... Then, my next question, is what am I looking at in CAM packages? I have played with the Vcarve demo, and Artcam Pro, both of which I believe will do cylindrical milling with a fixed Y, what would I need to get into to allow full 4 axis control?

    Any explanations or pointers on more reading material would be great. I am not finding much info in my online searches, and CNCzone keeps locking up my browser on my work PC here...

    Thanks,
    Jason

  2. #2
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    Jul 2006
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jacampb2
    So, my questions are, is Mach3 capable of running more than three axis simultaneously?
    Yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by jacampb2
    Then, my next question, is what am I looking at in CAM packages?
    Have a look at Dolphin Partmaster. That supports 4th axis.

    Quote Originally Posted by jacampb2
    I am thinking mostly I will be using it for cylindrical milling, but I have it in the back of my head that it might be nice to be able to use it for machining multiple faces and entry points into a part
    If you think a little about what you are doing, you can generally get away without true 4-axis unless you are doing something really complex. For cylindrical milling, where you might only be moving X- and A- together, a bit of Excel, enhanced by HuntnPeckCAM works well.

    For multiple faces, use your standard CAM package for each face and then FingerCAM to link them together and change offsets as necessary.

  3. #3
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    Mach will do 6 axis at one time.

    The cam is where its going to get you. 3 Axis is pretty reasonable in price, add a 4th axis and the price goes up big time. On my machine I just figure the item as flat and replace Y with A and go for it. But that has its limits.

    14" rotary table. That a lot of weight for that table.

  4. #4
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    Thanks guys, that is kind of what I figured I was going to hear. I am not sure that I will ever use the 4th for anything but artsy stuff. I have a friend who wants a ring and I have some ideas for cylindrical engravings. Most likely A,X,Z will be fine, but it seems if I am going to go to the expense of another drive I ought to investigate all the options. If I stick with 3, I can just go with a quick connect on the Y like B'port did from the factory and save $130 on the 4th drive.

    Any suggestions on more advanced CAM packages that do full 4 axis? Do any of them have trials or demos that can be DL'ed and tried to get the feel and see if I like it?

    Quote Originally Posted by macona
    14" rotary table. That a lot of weight for that table.
    The table was a factory add on to the series 2. I have the serial numbered manuals that show it came with the machine. The S2 is probably 1.5x-2x's beefier than a series one in the base casting. I am sure I'll have to re-tune the axis to account for the weight, but I don't think it will be to much for the machine.

    Thanks!
    Jason

  5. #5
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    No free software that I know of, not even cheap ones.

  6. #6
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    Yeah, not looking for free or cheap, just a demo, even one that doesn't produce code, just to see how easy it is to learn.

    Ill keep searching, thanks!
    Jason

  7. #7
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    Mastercam does it. Havnt figured out how yet.

  8. #8
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    The full version of Visual Mill from mescoft.com does 4, and I think an indexable 5th. You can download demos from their website. I've got the full version but I've yet to try doing anything with a 4th axis.

    http://www.mecsoft.com/DownloadDemosb.shtml

    cheers,
    Michael

  9. #9
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    Dolphin which is a reasonable cheap program will do 4th axis work quite easily.

    You draw out in the flat with the Y axis equal to Pi x D




    You then select the profiles you want to cut and bracket them in the operations list with > Start 4th axis and < End 4th axis

    Anything inside these brackets then gets automatically transferred to X and A moves.
    You also designate the OD of the work so it can accurately work out the correct feed rate from linear to rotary.



    Finished job.

    Dolphin has a very active office in the US at www.dolphincadcamusa.com

    .
    .

    Sir John , Earl of Bligeport & Sudspumpwater. MBE [ Motor Bike Engineer ] Nottingham England.




  10. #10
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    Jan 2007
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    What is the cost of these programs? Looking at VisualTurn and VIsualMill versus the dolphin products? I have a legal seat to alibre.

    I never see pricing and hate to call because if it is way out of my range I will never here the end from the sales guys.

    P/R

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