“The first customer was thrilled with our solution”
INTERVIEW – Tebis offers more support for 5-axis milling. Product Manager Helmut Vergin explains how simple 5-axis milling has become with Tebis Version 4.0 Release 6.
Mr. Vergin, what have you focused on in Release 6?
On the one hand, we have seen new tool types and milling strategies taking hold in die and mold manufacturing over the past two years. On the other hand, the shortage of qualified personnel is becoming increasingly critical – for our customers as well. We therefore wanted to make our software much easier to use. In many cases in the past, it was necessary to design additional guide geometries. This was cumbersome and required experience in NC programming, a skill that is becoming increasingly rare. Especially if users do not often work with a specific function, their programming can be hindered. We have simplified many things in the new release to remove these inhibitions.
What are the new types of tools, and what are the corresponding milling strategies?
Twenty years ago, the big hit was high-speed cutting with a ball cutter. Since then, controls have improved and machines have gotten faster. The market found new life a few years ago: New high-performance tools like high-feed cutters, high-performance cutters, barrel cutters (circle-segment cutters) and new milling strategies like adaptive roughing have emerged and provide many positive arguments in favor of milling as opposed to additive processes. However, many of our customers are wondering what tools they should be using and when, and what strategies to use with them. And we want to help them on their way.
Is Germany out in front with these issues, or are these global trends?
The German die and mold manufacturing industry is certainly close to the leading edge. For example, barrel cutters have been available for impeller manufacturing for several years. Two years ago they broke out of this niche, and the German market is certainly in the lead. This trend has not yet fully penetrated in the rest of Europe. It is just beginning now. However, anyone who knows the Italian, Spanish and Portuguese mold manufacturers, expects that it will not take long. Our service teams in these countries are well-equipped for this purpose.
What functions have you integrated in the software for 5-axis milling?
First, let me clarify the term: For Tebis, 5-axis milling includes not only 5-axis simultaneous machining but also 5-axis avoidance milling as well as multi-sided machining (tilted 3-axis machining), because these require machines with five axes. We simulate all of these cases in our software. If user want to optimally machine a part with 5-axis simultaneous milling and use the best milling strategy for each area, they can very easily subdivide it using the Tebis CAD functions and select the areas. The areas can also consist of multiple individual surfaces, making the work much simpler.
Can this milling program be changed again?
Yes, the user splits the part into the desired areas with the preparation functions in the "NC preparation" module and the Tebis software then automatically creates the milling area. The user modifies the tool, starting position, tilt vectors and path smoothing and saves these in the NCJob. He or she checks the program in the clamping orientation on the virtual machine in Tebis and changes a few parameters if necessary. And when the part goes to production and the machine is available, the user clicks a button to start the processing.
What makes this solution stand out compared to the competition?
Certainly, a unique selling point of the Tebis solution is that users can mill across surfaces with all functions. There are solutions on the market that have integrated strategies for the barrel cutter, but they only work on a single CAD surface. In Tebis, the tool travels over the selected milling area in a single path – complete and without interruptions – no matter how complex it is. Of course, milling across surfaces has a positive impact on the surface result and on machining time. Using barrel cutters in 3-axis milling with tilted tools is also very
simple: No complex tilt calculations are necessary for line-by-line processing of surfaces; the software does it all.
Who is most interested in these 5-axis functions?
In die manufacturing, the new functions are especially appropriate for large forming dies in the automotive industry. For example, outer skin surfaces can be processed with simultaneous 5-axis machining, saving a lot of time. The area of application for the software is far larger in mold manufacturing. For example, our customers in this segment benefit from the 5-axis functions when milling mold inserts and guides. This includes milling strategies for roughing free-form geometries and free-form pockets, for side and face finishing, for machining contours and for engraving.
Are customers already using Release 6?
Yes, the first customers have been working with it since early July of 2018.
What kind of feedback are you getting from these customers?
Very positive – especially regarding the simplified user interface. The first customer who used our solution was thrilled. He downloaded the soft - ware, started the first part and was finished with the 5-axis simultaneous program in five minutes. The biggest saving with the 5-axis NC programs used with high-performance cutters is time. Depending on the application, time savings of up to 70 percent are possible. Another customer who was initially very skeptical about whether he could achieve the necessary precision with barrel cutters has since completely changed his manufacturing and saved a full 50 percent of the time required for milling guides. But of course, this always depends on the application. We always want to achieve the best result for our customers. We therefore also offer comprehensive consulting services.
Helmut Vergin has been the product manager for CAM/automation processes at Tebis since 2008. The industrial mechanic was responsible for mold manufacturing work preparation in earlier positions before joining Tebis in 1997, where he initially worked in Support and Quality Assurance. His profile is rounded out by his training as an operations manager, technical product manager and industrial marketing manager.