CNC Machining Path Planning Optimization for Circular Hole Patterns via a Hybrid Ant Colony Optimization Approach

  •  Adel T. Abbas    
  •  Karim Hamza    
  •  Mohamed Aly    


This paper presents a path-planning optimization study for a Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining center tasked with machining jobs involving a large number of holes to drill that are mostly arranged in concentric circular patterns. Benefits of this research may contribute to shortening the machining time in certain components used in heat exchangers, boilers, condensers, trammel screens and food separators. Optimization of tool travel distance and machining cost are typically overlooked aspects when generating tool paths and CNC codes from commercially available CAD software packages. Tool path travel distance minimization can be modelled Travelling Salesman Problem (TSP). Optimization algorithms have been heavily applied in the literature to the TSP with varying levels of success. Ant Colony Optimization (ACO) is one of the most prominent approaches that mimics the natural behavior of ant colonies. The research in this paper proposes a hybrid ACO that has a biasing mechanic designed to take advantage of the geometric hole-pattern arrangement, as well as a local search. Simulation examples show the proposed approach exhibiting superior performance compared to the classic ACO approach, a genetic algorithm (GA) approach, as well as the simple spiral path generated via commercial CAD software. The proposed approach is then applied to the drilling path planning of a two-thousand-hole food-industry separator plate.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1927-0607
  • ISSN(Online): 1927-0615
  • Started: 2011
  • Frequency: annual