Oscillate is most commonly used in the 2D Contour toolpath, did you know there are other toolpaths also capable of this motion?
Typically, Oscillating a toolpath is done to try and spread the wear over the entire flute length of a cutter. You may be cutting thin material, perhaps a piece of 1/8" thick material. Using a tool that has, say, 1/2" of flute, all that cutting would only take place on a small portion of the tool. Cutting many parts would result in wasting the rest of that tools useable cutting area. Another use case, laminates. For those working with woods, counter-tops come to mind. The underlying particle board is quite easy to cut while the top layer can be much harder on your tools, wearing them in only one spot.
When using Oscillate in the 2D Contour toolpath, this toolpath will watch out for you in that it will warn you if you are oscillating too much that your cutter is cutting beyond your tools flute length. You will not get such warnings in the other toolpaths we explore here. So, be carful when using them
The other two toolpaths that can oscillate are 5 Axis Curve and the Swarf Application toolpath. There are 2 Swarf toolpaths in Mastercam, be sure to select the correct one if you intent to use the oscillating function.
The settings for the Oscillation will work pretty much exactly the same within all of these toolpaths. You have an option to set the Amplitude (called Maximum Depth in the settings), this sets how big, in Z, for the tool to oscillate. Next, you can set the Distance between the oscillations, or how far the tool with travel before switching Z directions. Lastly, you have the option for linear or high speed movement. Linear is basically zig zagging while high speed is curved or sinewave like motion.
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