5-Axis Machining

Single Axis Lathe

A new method for machining complex three-dimensional surfaces has been developed. The One Axis Lathe Mill is unique in that there is only one computer-controlled axis. The rotation of the workpiece is coupled to the translating motion of the cutter via belts and pullies. As the workpiece is turned manually by hand, the cutter advances along the length of the part approximately 1.5 mm per rotation. The cutter essentially follows a helical path around the workpiece. Information about the location of the cutter is constantly fed into a computer that determines the depth of cut required and adjusts its position accordingly in (near) real-time. Currently, any general triangulated surface can be machined out of wood without gouging. The unique contribution of this work is a real-time machining strategy where the geometry of the part is integrated into the control loop of the system. This is different from conventional NC machines that simply move from point to point.

One possible application for this system is the home workshop. Currently, only conventional woodturning lathes are available for the consumer. The hobbyist could make custom products from wood with a more sophisticated yet affordable machine. The lathe mill is controlled through the parallel port of a personal computer without the need of a costly computer controller designed solely for the machine. The lathe has been set-up as computer peripheral, such as a printer. Instead of outputting two-dimensional text and graphics, the lathe mill outputs three-dimensional models.

For a demonstration of the lathe, watch video clip. The video shows a raised capital letter "U" being machined on a twisted elliptical prism.

Last updated on: September 19, 2014
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