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In this 7 step video series, you will learn how to machine a blower wheel within TopSolid 7.  This will include preparing your cad data, defining your stock model, selection of a machine, adding a fixture, and adding your MPS file to cut.  From there, you learn how to use Turning to machine as much as possible prior to moving on to 4 axis continuous roughing and semi finishing.  Lastly we will cover a few different types of 5 axis finishing.  Oh and don’t forget that you will also learn a lot of tips and tricks along the way too!

Prepare Data for Blower Wheel

Create an MPS document for the blower wheel in TopSolidIn this sample, we are assuming that the first operation has been completed by someone else.  So you will need to create a stock model that is representative of that. In Step 1, we will focus on building a custom assembly so that you can define your stock correctly.

In all reality, you have two choices here. You can create the custom stock directly within a MPS file (Machine Part Setup), or you can do it within an assembly file.

If you choose to use a MPS file, the creation of this custom stock will be tied to that MPS file.  This means that in the parametric world that is TopSolid, the birth of this custom stock block will be tied to the existence of the MPS file.  Now if this is a simple, one off part then this method works well. However if there is a chance that you might use this stock model another way, it is better to use an assembly first. Besides, if you start with an assembly, you will have more freedom as to how you design the stock model.  The video below will show you how to build the assembly first and then how to use it within a Machine Part Setup Document.

Setup the machine

Like in every real job, you have choices to make.  You need to select a machine to run a job on…choose fixturing and tooling and of course you need to setup the machine.  In TopSolid, it’s no different.  In TopSolid, we always start with machine selection.  It is a critical part of the manufacturing process that will affect how you hold the part and how many setups are required to machine the part. In this sample, we will choose a DMG CTX Beta 1250 TC to machine our blower wheel.

Select a machine for the Blower Wheel project in TopSolidIn Step 2, you will start by creating a new, empty machining document.  From there you will use the “select a machine” command to browse to and select the CTX Beta.  After TopSolid loads the machine definition, your next step will be to select and add the correct chuck and jaw combination.  In this case, you will browse to a sample chuck library and choose the 3 jaw Rohm chuck.  You will use standard windows drag-n-drop to include the chuck into the machining file.  Next you will use standard TopSolid constraint positioning methodologies to position the chuck.  Play close attention to the fact that the jaws on the chuck move in and out according to the stroke of that specific chuck as well!

Finally, you will include your MPS file and position it on the chuck, again using standard positioning constraints.  The video below will walk you though these steps.

Grab a tool and start turning

Ok, now it’s time to make some chips!  Being that we are using a mill/turn machine for machining the blower wheel, we thought it would be great to start with a bit of turning. To do this, we need a cutting tool.  Again, like in the real world, you need to be specific about the type of tool you are going to use.  For this sample, we are going to choose a neutral tool from the standard tool database that ships with TopSolid.

Use a neutral turning tool to machine the blower wheel in TopSolidIn Step 3 you will start by pre-loading a neutral turning tool.  From there you are going to select geometry to machine and start a rough turning operation.  Next you will set a custom B-Axis angle of 45 degrees and apply the roughing tool path.  After that you will create a finish turning tool path to finish the profile.  Here, pay close attention to the flexibility of TopSolid and how easy it is to create turning tool path on what is actually quite a complex piece of geometry.  The video below will show you how to achieve these steps.

Reuse your knowledge with ease

In the world of manufacturing, working smarter is or should be the goal of every manufacturer.  Thankfully TopSolid understands this and allows its users to store their knowledge inside the software for future use.  Think about it…machining a blower wheel for the first time might be a little intense.  But once you have done it, and more found a clever way to do it, doesn’t it make sense to store the knowledge, so it can be reused in the future by you…or by anyone in your organization?

Machine a blower wheel with a stored favorite machining strategy in TopSolidIn Step 4, you will learn how to reuse stored knowledge.  Really, there’s not much more to say than this.  In this step you will see how easy it is to call up and reuse two strategies from projects past.  What’s more, you will see that it takes mere seconds to select and apply this stored knowledge.  Check out the video below to see how simple it is to reuse blower wheel manufacturing knowledge within TopSolid.

5 Axis blower wheel machining

At this point, you have turned down the part as far as possible.  You then applied some stored knowledge to use 4 axis radial roughing to rough and semi finish the blower wheel.  What’s next? 5 Axis tool paths…that’s what’s next!  In this next step you will create your first 5 axis sweeping tool path. Let’s get to it!

Machine a blower wheel with 5 axis sweeping in TopSolidIn Step 5, you will learn how to apply a sweeping tool path.  Sweeping is a common enough strategy of machining that typically follows the iso curves of the surface. (Incidentally…an iso curve is the mathematics spine of the surface that defines its curvature.)  Now if this is not your first 5 axis rodeo, you know that this type of machining can have challenges to overcome…especially when the iso curves are not oriented the way you want them to be.  Thank fully TopSolid knows how to handle that too!  In this sample, you will learn how to use two curves to morph the tool path so that it follows the natural flow of cut you are after.  Lastly you will learn how to control the shank of the cutter so that it is always centered between each blade of the blower wheel.  Check out the video below to see these steps in action.

May the swarf be with you

OK, now that you have done the easy part, it’s time to focus on the blades of the blower wheel.  This can be very tricky tool path to make.  But don’t worry, TopSolid has you covered here as well. TopSolid has a bunch of different swarfing strategies that could be used on this part that would do the job well.

Machine the blades of the blower wheel with swarfing in TopSolidIn Step 6, we are going to consider one of these swarfing strategies called swarfing on curves. With swarfing on curves, you have the control you need to guide the side of your tool to machine even the most complex of faces.  When swarfing on curves, you will need to create some profiles. Here we will teach you how to use some of TopSolid’s 3d sketcher to create the needed profiles. As well, you will need to create an additional surface to use to help guide the bottom of the cutter.  From there it is all about the creation of the tool path.  The last thing you will learn will be how to manually play with the synchronization of profiles to control how and when the tool tilts.  Sometimes automatic is enough…and yet sometimes you want to just tweak it a little bit.  TopSolid allows for both with ease.  The video below will show you these steps.

Let’s finish the job

Honestly, you’ve done a fantastic job!  You learned how to do a lot within TopSolid at this point.  You just have one, small step left to take. It’s time to finish the job!  There are twenty identical features to be machined with 5 axis sweeping and 5 axis swarf machining.  Wouldn’t be great if you could just copy all that you have done to this point quickly and efficiently?  Guess what?

Blower wheel machining is simple when you can repeat tool path in TopSolidIn Step 7 you can do just that.  Here you will learn how to repeat a tool path.  In fact, you will learn two different ways to repeat the tool path.  Both will get you to the finish line quickly and efficiently.  Check out the final video in this series below to see how to repeat a tool path within TopSolid 7.