– Zig-zag: Fastest surfacing, because it cuts both ways.
– Climb Mill: Best surface finish–passes are climb mill and then rapid back so they always cut in the same direction.
– Radial: This path spirals outward, and is a nice compromise between the two as well as a good choice for surfacing round areas.
We’ve spent a lot of time incorporating state-of-the-art face milling toolpath features, such as the way the tool arcs into the workpiece. These features result in longer tool life, particularly when surfacing tough materials, as well as better surface finishes. You can get a PhD in Face Milling and write your own programs to do this stuff or just use the Surfacing Wizard. While there are other Wizards and Conversational CNC programs out there, G-Wizard is the first one I’ve seen that does this sort of thing. Even many CAM packages don’t.
I made a video that shows how to use the Wizard if you want more information: