There’s a tale told among manufacturers that’s as old as industrialization itself: those who do more with less succeed. CAD/CAM programmers and machinists get it, but the end result of “success” can be fleeting. There’s more joy in machining when you can figure out better methods, working smarter instead of harder. While the rest of the business world says things like, “Sell the hole, not the drill.” Machinists say, “Hold up, tell me more about that drill since I’m the hole maker.” Needless to say, at MachiningCloud, we also find joy in the process, specifically, the manufacturers’ cutting tool workflows. And as we approach 2019, there’s been some fun evolutions and improvements that have become standard over the last year, and a few that are on their way.
The fundamental process of CAD-CAM-post-CNC is undergoing changes. First and most importantly, accurately modeling parts and tools in CAD underwent an evolution when the largest cutting tool database in history, MachiningCloud, made it easy to export solid 3D models several years ago (no big deal). After the modeling step, there’s even more going on.
Modern controls translate CAM-generated series of points back into the original smooth surfaces defined in the CAD system without a major change in programming, simplifying the integration between the CAD system and the CNC. The analogy Modern Machinist used is that instead of a driver going around a race course only using straight lines with endpoints, we now have CAM software that allows the driver to turn the steering wheel, so the drivers can determine the optimal way to go through the course at the highest speed possible without ending up in the grass. The improvements in mapping enables several modern advanced CNC features, cost reductions, time reductions, and flexibility improvements, like in High Speed Machining.
High Speed Machining (HSM) Algorithms
HSM algorithms create much more efficient tool paths, speed-wise. Instead straight lines, the algorithmic paths move around more to make sure the amount of material is as consistent as possible. This consistency means that the tool path is better at generating the designed surface, and improves tool life.
Universal CAD Translation
According to Wikipedia: NC programming typically requires that the geometry received from a CAD system, whether in wireframe, surface, solid or combined formats, be free from any irregularities and inconsistencies that may have occurred in the CAD phase of geometry creation. Data exchange from CAD to CAM is supposed to identify and repair those inconsistencies, so data exchange software is standard in most CAM solution-sets. But in a true PLM environment, CAD to CAM data exchange must provide for more than the transfer of geometry. For example, MachiningCloud’s solid tools are exportable in several standard formats that can be used by any CAD/CAM software on the market, and you can export much more than the models with ISO Plus.
Product Manufacturing Information is supposed to be part of a universal data exchange system, especially in today’s global supply chains. STEP-NC was designed to carry GD&T and other PMI through CAD and CAM into a CNC, but never really took off. Enter: CAD Translators. Translators take CAD native and neutral files and convert them to native and neutral format such as CATIA, JT, STEP, Parasolid, ACIS and more.
Cloud storage, cloud apps and wireless machine monitoring give manufacturers unprecedented protection. When data from almost every machine is automatically uploaded in real time, operational efficiency skyrockets. Processes can be changed at the drop of a pin and critical information is always safe even if a computer or a machine crashes. That’s why MachiningCloud is a cloud based app. You can get it on any device with an internet connection and then use it without going to procurement, IT, and who knows what else. Wireless manufacturing just works.
Sensing, measurement, and process control
Modern CNCs can detect tools before a collision and stop the axis movements, issuing an error message. While tool collision detection is nothing new, the ability to sense thermal fluctuations, vibration and several other real-time variables is science fiction come to life. Wirelessly logging a cut’s true accuracy in real time, and automatically optimizing cutting tools and axis based on what’s being measured means that machines can become better operators by self correcting at the right moment, and all people have to do is sit back and watch.
When you think of the future of manufacturing, or more reasonably, what 2019 will bring to manufacturing, these improvements should come to mind. And so should MachiningCloud. We don’t just talk about the future of manufacturing, our app is bringing the future to you so you can achieve more, faster and worry free.