CAM Tips: Optimize Toolpaths for Better Tool Life and Surface Finish

CNC toolpaths

Optimize your toolpaths for better tool life and surface finish…

How much time do you spend optimizing your CAM software toolpaths? Do you usually just take what it gives you out of the box, provided it machines the part properly? Read: Why You Should Spend More Time Thinking About Toolpaths Don’t feel bad, most people do the same. Not many CNC’ers realize that a few changes here and there can make a big difference for tool life and Surface Finish.  I’m not really talking about Feeds and Speeds or similar parameters either.  I’m talking about how you can optimize the geometry of a toolpath.

A Quick Example Using 2D Profiling


We do 2D Profiling all the time, for example, to machine the outside of a part.  The tip here is knowing how to enter the cut in such a way that tool marks are minimized and tool life is optimized.  How do you usually get your cutter engaged with the part? Watch: The Science of Face Milling Here’s what you want to do in this case:

Note how we enter and exit at the corner. The technique works because the tool only touches on the corner during lead-in lead-out and it isn’t making a head-on approach followed by a sharp turn to follow the contour. There are a lot more tips than this, and I’ve gathered them all for you in a special chapter of CNC Cookbook's free Feeds and Speeds Course. Check it out here: CAM Toolpath Tips This post originally appeared in the CNC Cookbook blog.