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IMTS 2014: Machine Controls, CAD/CAM Software Build Factory Efficiency


The latest CNC and software technologies can help shops optimize machining tasks and boost metalcutting productivity 

With new CAD/CAM and controls technologies, machine shops find the fastest, most efficient ways to cut metal and mold their manufacturing processes. At the Controls & CAD/CAM pavilion in the Lakeside Building at IMTS, visitors will see the latest CNC tools and manufacturing software aimed at refining part programming and improving machining processes.

Multitasking machine tools have been at the forefront of CNC programming advances, with new systems taking advantage of minimal setups on these “done-in-one” multitasking machines. Taking multitasking programming to a new level, the new GibbsCAM UKM (Universal Kinematic Machine) that will be introduced at IMTS by Gibbs and Associates (Moorpark, CA) capitalizes on a completely reengineered CAM engine, one that takes advantage of newer multitasking machines, yet still offers backward compatibility when used with older machine designs.

Under development for about five years, the UKM engine will enable much more accurate modeling of machine tools, said Bill Gibbs, president of Gibbs and Associates, and it will also help reduce the costs of developing postprocessors and simulation models. “Even though we’ve been doing MTM [multitask machining] longer than anybody, we saw a need in the industry,” Gibbs said. “The machines are evolving in creative ways.”
GibbsCAM 2015 with its new UKM engine provides highly accurate machine simulation on machines of virtually any configuration.
These innovative MTM architectures have posed problems for software developers, said Gibbs, noting that CAM systems were originally designed either to be used with a lathe or with a mill. “There’s no limit to how creative machine-tool designers can be,” said Gibbs. With the new UKM system, kinematic models are used more effectively, offering dramatically improved rendering of simulations that are able to more precisely simulate these highly complex MTM systems. “It is very, very flexible in how we can assign axes and alignments,” Gibbs added.

In addition to the UKM, GibbsCAM 2015 adds many new tool types including Barrel, Dovetail, Convex Tip, E-style ISO insert, and tools defined by solids. The software also features dynamic 3D viewing of tools and toolholders in the tool dialog, allowing users to accurately visualize the tools they are selecting for the job. GibbsCAM 2015 will include the new Adveon tool management system licensed from Sandvik Coromant (Fair Lawn, NJ), Gibbs said, which is also available to other CAM software developers.

Smarter Toolpaths

Another trend in CAD/CAM is the use of a new class of smarter toolpaths, said Ben Mund, marketing manager, CNC Software Inc. (Tolland, CT), developer of Mastercam. “You see this across a variety of CAD/CAM companies where toolpaths are taking advantage of new algorithms and increased computer processing in order to have a lot more intelligence about tool load and tool motion,” Mund said. “These new types of smarter toolpaths yield a number of benefits including extending tool life, reducing cycle time, and reducing machine wear. They can also make traditional projects, like cutting hard materials, easier.”

At the CNC Software booth, visitors will see the latest Mastercam release which offers improved usability and workflow, Mund said. “The other thing we are showing is our Dynamic Motion technology,” he said. “This is a machining technique that we’ve had for a number of years, and it is slowly expanding across the suite of Mastercam products. It powers many of our most commonly-used toolpaths. In a nutshell, Dynamic Motion toolpaths can take full-depth cuts while maintaining optimal cutter load and smooth motion. We have field tested this for about half a decade, and the results we see are remarkable.”

At IMTS, Mund said he’s interested in seeing all the new developments in machine tools and cutter technologies, as well as 3D printing advances. “We have a lot of gear heads here—one thing that is a big draw for us is checking out the advances in multiaxis machines and mill-turn machines,” Mund said. “We are also interested to see first-hand any of the new cutters that are being rolled out. Although we stay in contact with cutter manufacturers, seeing them first-hand helps us to know what we can incorporate into our software. Lastly, we’re interested in the advancements of 3D printing—in particular the hybrid machines that do both additive and subtractive machining.”

High-Speed, High-Efficiency Machining

At Delcam’s booth, visitors can see the application of the company’s Vortex high-efficiency clearance strategy, which debuted in PowerMill but has now been added across Delcam’s software line with the addition into its FeatureCAM, PartMaker and Delcam for SolidWorks CAM systems. “High-efficiency and five-axis machining have been important to our users for some time and will continue to trend,” said Mary Shaw, Delcam North American marketing manager. “Visitors will discover how they can gain unprecedented speed and accuracy with the 2015 CAM software releases. Delcam continues to spend more on development than anyone in the CAM industry. In staying with the overall theme of speed, Delcam will invite attendees into our booth to take a 30-second test drive to see our product advantages.”
Integrated robotic parts handling and teach-in of a Kuka robot is demonstrated with Siemens’ Sinumerik CNC controller.
Vortex gives the fastest safe metal removal from solid carbide tooling, in particular with designs that give deeper cuts by using the full flute length as the cutting surface, noted Shaw. It can be used for two- and three-axis roughing, three-plus-two-axis area clearance and for rest machining, and it gives benefits when machining all types of materials, including titanium, tool steel and alloys such as Inconel. Vortex produces toolpaths with a controlled engagement angle and so maintains the optimum cutting conditions for the toolpath that would normally be possible only for the straight-line moves. The constant feed rate achieved with Vortex is a fundamental difference from other high-speed roughing techniques. A series of trials run by Delcam on different machine tools within its Advanced Manufacturing Facility has shown that a time saving of at least 40% is not untypical, she added, with the biggest percentage savings being found when cutting steel on a Huron machine with SGS Z-Carb MD cutters.

Better NC Simulation

Improvements in cutting tool use in the Vericut NC simulation, verification and optimization software will be showcased at the booth of CGTech (Irvine, CA). The company will demonstrate how Vericut is integrated with Kennametal’s NOVO tool assembly application. CGTech also recently announced its new partnership with Machining Cloud GmbH (Stans, Switzerland) to ensure that Vericut users have access to complete, updated cutting-tool data, thereby enhancing the accuracy of their simulation and verification.

“Customers are putting a great deal of pressure on their suppliers to reduce costs and prices, even on parts and contracts that have been in place and fine-tuned for years. CGTech, as a software supplier providing tools to improve our customers’ manufacturing processes, believes the pressure is also on us to help our customers meet their customers’ cost reduction demands,” said Bill Hasenjaeger, CGTech product marketing manager. “Better and broader implementation of Vericut’s validation and optimization tools can help.”

At IMTS, CGTech will show new features and improvements in Vericut’s cutting optimization, easier simulation implementation, and broad coverage of more manufacturing processes, Hasenjaeger said. “IMTS is always a great place to see the latest factory technology in our machining domain,” he said. “With Vericut’s broad application across industries and around the world, we always have to be prepared to implement new factory innovations quickly for our early-adopter customers. Additive processes integrated in conventional five-axis machining cells, such as metal spraying or laser cladding, are especially interesting for us. We’re always on the lookout for new cutting tools and new cutting methods, as well as new features on CNC controls and the machines they’re controlling.”

CNC Advances

A new affordable CNC, the FANUC 0i-F machine control, will be introduced at IMTS by FANUC America Corp. (Rochester Hills, MI), said Paul Webster, engineering manager for the Hoffman Estates, IL-based CNC product line of FANUC America. “We’ve designed a lot of commonality in our CNC systems, between all our hardware and our software,” Webster said.

The new 0i-F CNC is the latest entry to FANUC’s best-value 0i Series controls aimed at production shops, Webster noted, and the 0i Series is the company’s highest-selling series of controls ever. “What’s exciting about the 0i-F is what it will have in common with the 30i Series controls, with a common look and feel,” Webster said. “We’ve dedicated a lot of effort to make everything look similar so it’s easier for operators to work with different controls models on the factory floor.”

The new 0i-F CNC also features a 15" display option and features Bluetooth capabilities that are part of the common CNC platform. “That makes the CNC a lot more PC-like in functionality,” Webster said. Another development is the addition of multitouch touchscreen capabilities. “We’re adding that capability to the Panel i touchscreens, so now you’ll be able to do multitouch, and pinch to zoom,” Webster said.

Robotics-CNC Integration

Integrated robotic parts handling and teach-in through the CNC controller is an emerging trend in highly-automated factories, as well as job shops today, according to Rajas Sukthankar, business manager, Machine Tool Business Unit, Siemens Industry Inc. (Elk Grove Village, IL). “We have worked closely with a robotics partner to develop our mxAutomation platform and Run MyRobot application,” Sukthankar said. “This enables the full operation and control of both the machining functions and the robot on one CNC using a dedicated second channel.” Not only does this streamline operators’ tasks, but it also eliminates the need to operate a separate robotic controller with its own language and training requirements, he said.

“In another critical area of CNC machining, we see more exotic material substrates, more nontraditional technologies, such as 3D, ECM, and lasers, for example, plus the hybrid machines that combine laser and milling work, making inroads in the market—and Siemens’ open architecture is well-positioned to respond to the specific requirements of these machining technologies,” Sukthankar said.

Siemens is now offering a full line of CNCs covering standard, mid-range and high-end machining operations and at IMTS the company will present these CNC technologies, including the Sinumerik 808D Advanced entry-level job-shop control and the 828D mid-range CNC with dedicated functionality for milling and turning operations. “These platforms share a common HMI interface with our Sinumerik 840D sl, the industry standard in multiaxis, multichannel CNC for aerospace, automotive and medical part manufacturing,” he said. “On the software side, our full medical process chain from CAD to CAM to CNC, facilitated by NX CAM and Teamcenter concepts, will be demonstrated for the unique and always nonlinear world inside the human body.”

Around the show, Sukthankar is interested in seeing new innovations, particularly in automation and additive manufacturing technology. “I have a keen interest in nontraditional machining, as well as additive manufacturing and the challenges of making a factory run under more automated conditions,” he said. “These require entirely new approaches to motion control and data management, in both the machine-to-machine and plant-wide communications areas.

“As always, of course, I will be visiting our machine tool customers to listen. That’s always the beginning of any good conversation between Siemens and our machine builders. As they face greater and more unique challenges in their global marketing, we must respond with both the product and software solutions to help them succeed—today and into the future. It is a truly exciting time in the machine tool world, as new materials, new manufacturing techniques, both additive and subtractive, plus a growing presence for robots and other automation, continue to emerge in the market.”

Fast, Automated Solutions

At CNC developer Fagor Automation Corp. (Elk Grove Village, IL), the emphasis is on speed with accuracy, as customers get nanometric resolution combined with high speeds from Fagor’s CNC lineup, noted Todd Drane, Fagor Automation marketing manager. “Our customers are requiring exceptional part finish, while turning up the feed rate at the same time,” Drane said. “Thus the trend is advanced algorithms that improve servo performance and block throughput from the CNC.”

Visitors to Fagor’s booth will see a complete automation solution, Drane added. “We are one of the few manufacturers that offer a complete automation package, which includes the design and manufacturing of the CNC control, digital servomotor system for both the axes and spindle, the PLC and precision linear and rotary encoders,” he said, “plus we offer a complete digital readout system line. The benefit is our products are engineered to bring out the performance from each other due to the systematic communication between the various components, thus the customer can be sure they are truly receiving the benefits of today’s advanced automation technology.”

Fagor’s lineup at IMTS includes an introduction of its HSSA in-program tuning that allows the customer three different levels of servo performance to ensure the highest performance possible for their individual application, Drane said. Fagor also will introduce the new 8060 high-performance CNC that is designed specifically with the intent of bringing aerospace quality technology to the small and mid-size high-performance machine market. The company also has a new line of nanometric-resolution linear encoders as well as three series of noncontact precision encoders. “The Fagor 8060 CNC is equipped with proprietary advanced features necessary for high-speed machining,” Drane said, “but is simple to operate and program due to the IIP Programming system that presents the user interface in a conversational presentation.” ME

Senior Editor Patrick Waurzyniak

To view the complete IMTS preview for this pavilion as a PDF, click here.  

Published Date : 8/1/2014

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