Iso-level tool path planning for free-form surfaces
The aim of tool path planning is to maximize the efficiency against some given precision criteria. In practice, scallop height should be kept constant to avoid unnecessary cutting, while the tool path should be smooth enough to maintain a high feed rate. However, iso-scallop and smoothness often conflict with each other. Existing methods smooth iso-scallop paths one-by-one, which make the final tool path far from being globally optimal. This paper proposes a new framework for tool path optimization. It views a family of iso-level curves of a scalar function defined over the surface as tool path so that desired tool path can be generated by finding the function that minimizes certain energy functional and different objectives can be considered simultaneously. We use the framework to plan globally optimal tool path with respect to iso-scallop and smoothness. The energy functionals for planning iso-scallop, smoothness, and optimal tool path are respectively derived, and the path topology is studied too. Experimental results are given to show effectiveness of the proposed methods. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.