An efficient algorithm is presented for intersecting vectors with swept solids which represent three-axis numerically controlled (NC) milling tool motions. The intersection calculation proceeds in hierarchical steps through a series of progressively more exact definitions of the shape of the tool swept volume. At each step, results of intermediate calculations are used to determine whether intersection with an exact representation of the solid is possible and, if so, where and how the swept volume model must be refined for the next step. This structure ensures that superfluous intersection calculations are minimized. This intersection technique has been successfully implemented as part of an algorithm for automatic verification of three-axis NC milling programs, and may also be useful for applications in robotics and factory automation.

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