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4th Axis Machining in Alibre CAM 2.0

This tech tip covers a simple example of the new capabilities of Alibre Design 12.1 and Alibre CAM 2.0. While the enhancements in Alibre CAM 2.0 affect every aspect of the application, some of the most dramatic advancements are for 4th axis machining. The machining simulations from Alibre CAM 2.0 shown below, are for toolpaths that were nearly impossible to create in previous versions.


For the sake of time and simplicity, this tech tip will cover the simple, 4th axis pocketing operation, shown below.

This tutorial presumes that you've already created the cylindrical part with a pocket feature; and that you've successfully installed Alibre Design 12.1 and Alibre CAM 2.0. The units in this example are inches. The part is a 4 inch diameter cylinder, 10 inches long. The pocket is roughly 3 inches by 3 inches. The part is aligned with the X axis. To get some helpful hints about using Alibre Design and Alibre CAM, review this previous tech tip. The subsequent steps are summarized as follows:

  1. Project the top edge of the pocket with the Alibre Design 12.1's new Project to 3D Sketch tool
  2. Launch Alibre CAM
  3. Create a cylindrical stock model
  4. Create a 4th axis pocketing operation:

    1. Select the projected 3D sketch as the machining region
    2. Create a flat mill tool
    3. Set the machining parameters
    4. Generate the toolpath
    5. Simulate the machining

Project to 3D Sketch

We need a boundary for the machining operation. To create it, we'll use the new Project to 3D Sketch tool in Alibre Design 12.1. The 3D sketch will coincide with the top edge of the pocket.

  1. Activate 3D sketch mode by opening the sketching toolbar's sketch mode flyout menu and then clicking on the Activate 3D Sketch button.

  2. Click on the Project to Sketch button on the 3D Sketching toolbar.

  3. Select the top edges of the pocket to designate them as Entities to project.

  4. Click OK in the Project To Sketch dialog box.
  5. Exit 3D Sketch mode by clicking on the Activate 3D Sketch button again.

You can view a short, screen-capture video of this process in this previous tech tip(bottom of page).

Machining the pocket

Now that we have a boundary for the toolpath, we can create the toolpath itself.

  1. Launch Alibre CAM 2.0 by clicking on its menu at the top of the screen and selecting Machining Operations Browser.

  2. On the Setup tab in the Alibre CAM explorer, right-click on the Stock-None item and then select Cylinder Stock.

  3. Click OK in the Cylinder Stock dialog box to accept the default stock definition.
  4. Now click on the Create tab in the Alibre CAM explorer.

  5. Open the 4 Axis menu and select the 4th Axis Pocketing item.

  6. In the 4 Axis Pocketing dialog box, click on the Select Containment Regions button.

  7. Select the 3D sketch that was created previously; and then click on the green check mark in the Select Sketch(s) confirmation box.

  8. The Selected Machining Region(s) selection box should now look like the following:

  9. Click on the Tool tab in the 4 Axis Pocketing dialog box, and then click on the Edit/Create/Select Tool... button.

  10. On the Create/Select Tool dialog box. Click on the Flat Mill tool icon, click on the Save as New Tool button, and then click OK.

  11. Click on the Cut Levels tab of the 4 Axis Pocketing dialog box, and enter .5 inch for the Total Cut Depth: value. Then click on the Generate button.

  12. The resulting toolpath should be roughly similar to what's shown below:

  13. Click on the Simulation tab, and then click on the Stock Simulation button.

  14. In the simulation window, click on the Play button to see the results of the machining operation.