This paper presents a methodology and algorithms of optimizing and smoothing the tool orientation control for 5-axis sculptured surface machining. A searching method in the machining configuration space (C-space) is proposed to find the optimal tool orientation by considering the local gouging, rear gouging and global tool collision in machining. Based on the machined surface error analysis, a boundary search method is developed first to find a set of feasible tool orientations in the C-space to eliminate gouging and collision. By using the minimum cusp height as the objective function, we first determine the locally optimal tool orientation in the C-space to minimize the machined surface error. Considering the adjacent part geometry and the alternative feasible tool orientations in the C-space, tool orientations are then globally optimized and smoothed to minimize the dramatic change of tool orientation during machining. The developed method can be used to automate the planning and programming of tool path generation for high performance 5-axis sculptured surface machining. Computer implementation and examples are also provided in the paper.

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