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TOOL-PATH GENERATION METHODS

There are several strategies of distributing the tool path in the domain of the designed part. The
goal of tool path distribution strategies is to span the entire designed part. The commonly used
tool path distribution strategies are

1. zig-zag or raster curves


2. contour curves
3. spiral curves
4. space filling curves
5. sequential generated curves

In this section, we outline commonly used tool path distribution strategies.


1. Zig-zag Curves:

The most commonly used tool path distribution strategies is the zig-zag strategy, due to
the simple algorithm involved in calculating the spanning 8 elements. This strategy
involves filling the domain with parallel rays which are trimmed at the boundaries.

2. Contour Curves:

The contour strategy is advantageous when the boundary contours are included as
spanning elements, since a uniform boundary results. This strategy involves
shrinking/expanding contours till the entire domain is spanned.

3. Space Filling Curves:

The previous strategies give a directionality or lay to the surface finish on the
manufactured part. The space filling strategy avoids the directionality by frequent
changes in orientation of the spanning elements by means of recursive algorithms. The
disadvantage of using the space filling strategy is that the overall length of the spanning
elements, in general, is large, increasing manufacturing time. In addition, the number of
short spanning elements is disadvantageous to the NC machine, since the tool is unable
to accelerate to the specified feed rate.

4. Sequential Curves:

This strategies involves sequentially generating spanning elements starting with a given
initial spanning element. The sequential distribution strategy is advantageous due to the
flexibility of generating various geometries of spanning elements. The disadvantage of
this strategy is the complexity involved in calculating spanning elements. Below Figures
schematically shows the above strategies of tool path distribution on a unit square by
means of spanning elements. These spanning elements on a unit square are then
calculated, such that they lie on the designed part, by means of tool path calculation
methods discussed in the next section. It is in the tool path

calculation methods that the spacing between the tool paths and geometric accuracy is

determined.