now doable. “It has opened many doors
for us because it’s allowed us to go out
and compete with the remaining curved
ply wood industry left in the U. S.,” said
Johnston. “Once the news spread that we
got into 3- and 5-axis cutting, it was like
the switchboards lighted up.”
Over the past year and a half, Johnston
said he has witnessed a shift in the furni-
ture making business, in that the contours
and shapes of the furniture are becoming
more detailed and more varied, requiring
different cutting and boring operations
than in his grandfather’s day.
“Most of the wood product that’s
coming into a curved plywood plant
are rotary-cut, sliced-face, or sliced-cut
veneers,” said Johnston. “We build our
panels out of the rotary-cut poplar
or gum veneers, buying from every
mill in the U.S. In the case of sports
equipment, the veneers will have either
a hard white maple, domestic beech,
or Euro beech face. For more formal
furniture, orders range from sliced
veneers in mahogany, cherry, and
American walnut to laser-cut veneers
with more intricately cut designs. All
veneers are laminated to the specifications of the customer,” he added.
Garcia also noted that grain direction is the most important consideration when cutting the veneers. If he
cuts across the grain, he’ll generate
chips and tear-outs at the end. “When
we run counterclockwise, we get a
better finish on plywood than running clockwise because of the way the
spindle rotates and the direction of
cut,” he said. The 5-axis machine also
enables them to produce more difficult curved plywood parts.
Garcia uses many of the software’s
Surface and Solids functions, including
Mold Plus for Mastercam (MoldPlus,
SA), which allows programmers to create and manipulate complex curves and
vectors for 5-axis trimming. Users also
can create curves in STL files; heal, fill,
or join surfaces; and slice parts among
“I use Mold Plus a lot to get vector
lines for the 5-axis so that I can drive
the machine in a certain direction,”
Also integral is Master3DGage
(Verisurf Software,) which is used in
conjunction with a 6-axis portable
CMM to provide a fully automated
3D inspection process in three steps,
within the Mastercam user interface.
The Master3DGage arm is also used
to reverse engineer parts, Garcia
explained. He also is able to align a
manufactured part to a 3D CAD model
by probing the part to corresponding
alignment targets on the model.
Garcia said he favors 3-axis tool-paths for day-to-day jobs, using Mastercam’s Router Suite of CAD/CAM tools,
including Curve/Drill 5-axis which
cuts a 3D chain on surface edges and
simplifies the creation of 3- to 5-axis
drilling output for holes within a part.
The multi-axis solution allows Garcia
to perform 5-axis multi-surface operations such as roughing and swarf fanning, and 4-axis, rotary axis, and roll
die programming. He also programs
roughing and finishing processes
within the same toolpath.
Johnston said he has marveled at the
Bruex seat and back components are used
in for retro and modern chair styles.
MoldPlus for Mastercam is used to get
vector lines to drive the 5-axis CNC router.
The 5-axis Bacci CNC router plays a
critical role in Bruex’s production process.