Mechanistic approach to predict real machining time for milling free-form geometries applying high feed rate
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An accurate estimate of machining time is very important for predicting delivery time, manufacturing costs, and also to help production process planning. Most commercial CAM software systems estimate the machining time in milling operations simply by dividing the entire tool path length by the programmed feed rate. This time estimate differs drastically from the real process time because the feed rate is not always constant due to machine and computer numerical controlled (CNC) limitations. This study presents a practical mechanistic method for milling time estimation when machining free-form geometries. The method considers a variable called machine response time (MRT) which characterizes the real CNC machine's capacity to move in high feed rates in free-form geometries. MRT is a global performance feature which can be obtained for any type of CNC machine configuration by carrying out a simple test. For validating the methodology, a workpiece was used to generate NC programs for five different types of CNC machines. A practical industrial case study was also carried out to validate the method. The results indicated that MRT, and consequently, the real machining time, depends on the CNC machine's potential: furthermore, the greater MRT, the larger the difference between predicted milling time and real milling time. The proposed method achieved an error range from 0.3% to 12% of the real machining time, whereas the CAM estimation achieved from 211% to 1244% error. The MRT-based process is also suggested as an instrument for helping in machine tool benchmarking.