VoluMill Airframe is an optional addition to VoluMill Nexion for the 5-axis rough milling of a specific, yet large, class of parts. It brings the proven rough-milling benefits of VoluMill – consistent and accelerated material removal rates, reduced cycle times, extended cutting-tool life, increased shop capacity, and full asset-utilization chief among them – to the world of simultaneous multi-axis material removal. Designed to machine structural components, VoluMill Nexion Airframe is perfect for the overwhelming majority of non-propulsion aircraft parts required to build flying machines of all types.

VoluMill Airframe offers several advantages over traditional methods. Most 5-axis toolpath technology is focused on finishing, while rough milling is accomplished in a “3+2” mode, or by offsetting the finishing motion to fill the areas from which the bulk material must be removed. This latter can produce changes in tool-axis vectors that are smaller than ideal throughout much of the toolpath, and that are much greater than desired elsewhere, with significant vector rotations occurring over very small spans of distance and time.  The result is a pendulum swing from underutilizing the machine’s capabilities to pushing the machine to its limits. VoluMill Airframe, in contrast, generates toolpaths with smooth, gentle vector rotations throughout, eliminating the too-little-or-too-great dynamic that manufacturers deal with now.

VoluMill Airframe also significantly reduces NC programming time and effort. Since vector rotations are established based on the whole of the area being machined, geometry selection is much simpler. Merely specify part-, stock-, and check-bodies and VoluMill Airframe does the rest. Walls are automatically selected, and smooth, gentle 5-axis motion is generated. Of course specific walls can be deselected, and boundaries can be used to limit toolpath coverage, but there is no need to create “rails” or other such geometry in order to control the tool-axis vectors. Also gone is the common requirement of generating a swarf-cut along a wall, for example, and guessing at how many offsets of that single cut are needed to remove the material. With just a few toolpaths – one, in many cases – entire areas, or even entire parts, are efficiently roughed out. And the roughed part is much better prepared for finishing, as an even amount of material remains on the tilted walls, with no “wedges” of material remaining above or beneath them.

On parts with less “wide open space”, removing all material with continuous 5-axis motion can be a huge timesaver, utilizing the machine’s full motion capabilities throughout. But many airframe parts consist of large expanses of flat, fully exposed floors, with some mildly tilted walls, sometimes only on one or two sides. In such cases, VoluMill Airframe works in seamless harmony with VoluMill 2- or 3-axis toolpaths, providing the best of both worlds. The simpler paths can remove the vast majority of material, with VoluMill Airframe toolpaths used only for removing the material above and below the tilted walls. On machines that can move significantly faster and/or smoother under 3 axes of motion than 5, this can be especially advantageous.

VoluMill Airframe is intended for use on structural components, such as bulkheads, floor bays, and wing spars. These parts tend to consist of predominantly-flat floors and tilted walls. Most often these parts do not move once assembled. If a part looks like it is intended to rotate, or to house parts that rotate, it is not a fit for VoluMill Airframe. If a part is a blade, or has blades on it, it is likely not a fit for VoluMill Airframe.