Discover the latest in manufacturing software and CNC technology at the Controls and CAD/CAM Pavilion
Most anyone attending IMTS 2018 is well aware that machine tools are the lifeblood of virtually any manufacturing company. Without lathes and machining centers, parts don’t get made, barstock collects dust on the shelf, and machinists…they’d have nothing to do.
Similarly, robots have evolved from automotive-only workhorses to nimble, low-cost assistants suitable for even the smallest shop. Cutting tools, toolholders, workholding and myriad accessories are also critical pieces of the machining puzzle. And 3D printers? They’re changing the manufacturing world in ways that no one could predict just three decades ago.
This is all cool stuff, to be sure, and showcasing it is one of the main reasons for IMTS in the first place. But as you cruise the halls of Chicago’s McCormick Place this year, it’s important to remember that everything just described would be of no value without the CAD/CAM software needed to design and program parts, and the highly capable controls needed to drive machinery.
Meet the Q
Let’s start there. Fagor Automation USA Corp. (Elk Grove Village, IL) joins a growing list of software and control providers offering additive manufacturing (AM) functionality. Visitors will see demonstrations of the company’s AM solution and several other new controls, which, according to Marketing Manager Todd Drane, meet and exceed industry performance requirements.
One of these is the new 8065 Q CNC, which Drane said is “the most powerful CNC we have ever produced.” With standard features ranging from multi-channel control, HSSA (High Speed Surface Accuracy), volumetric compensation and processor speeds capable of micro-second block processing, the Q is well-suited for cellular manufacturing scenarios, high-performance horizontal machining centers, and complex five-axis CNC routers.
Also on display will be Fagor’s popular and intuitive 8055 series CNC, which combines a simple-to-program “Icon Key” conversational programming system together with ISO G-code programming within the same control. An advanced wireless HBA handheld CNC Pendant makes it easy for those with large machines to perform a broad range of functions in or around the machine, according to Fagor.
Robotics and factory automation provider FANUC America Corp. (Rochester Hills, MI), will demonstrate its lineup of evolving, smart, and connected Industrial IoT (IIoT) manufacturing technologies, including its Robot LINKi Zero Down Time (ZDT) and FANUC Intelligent Edge Link and Drive (FIELD) system.
Joe Gazzarato, director of Zero Down Time Cloud System and Application Development, said the FIELD system offers customers an open platform that collects machine data and monitors the operating status of their manufacturing equipment in real time. And Robot LINKi Zero Down Time (ZDT), a cloud-based solution available to manufacturers who purchase FANUC robots, offers predictive analytics that can prevent unexpected downtime by identifying component failures in advance and recommend proper intervals for routine equipment maintenance activities.
“ZDT allows plant managers to schedule regular production downtime for maintenance and mechanical hardware replacement rather than lose valuable time and money performing unscheduled repairs or maintenance,” Gazzarato said. “Plant managers can monitor the manufacturing process using a web portal and have a clear picture of device health, equipment utilization and energy consumption. ZDT data help customers reduce overall life-cycle costs.”
Interest in ZDT is escalating. Today, over 17,000 robots in the automotive industry are operating with ZDT, noted Gazzarato, and FANUC estimates that ZDT has saved customers over 1300 hours of unexpected production interruptions since its introduction, equating to more than $40M in savings.
Connectivity and digital manufacturing will both be popular terms at IMTS 2018. To help illustrate this point, motion control and components manufacturer Heidenhain Corp. (Schaumburg, IL) will use its control systems during IMTS to connect equipment from various machine tool builders throughout McCormick Place back to the Heidenhain booth.
“Increasing competitiveness, digitization, and networking has become the goal for many manufacturers recently,” said Gisbert Ledvon, Heidenhain’s TNC business development manager. “That’s why ‘Connecting Systems for Intelligent Production’ has been our motto at trade shows over the past year, and why Heidenhain offers Connected Machining, a package of components and systems to support end users introducing digital order management in their production processes.”
This package will be demonstrated during live presentations throughout IMTS, as well as the use of a TNC 640 control on a high-precision five-axis machine tool.
Heidenhain will also be at the Student Summit, allowing students to program the new TNC 640 CNC with touchscreen interface themselves; teachers and students will also get a first look at the new online
HIT Heidenhain Interactive Training Software for three- and five-axis machine programming.
“Given the reshoring trends in US manufacturing, specifically of more complex and often five-axis value parts, the newest Heidenhain TNC 640 Mill Turn CNC will help manufacturers make accurate precision parts fast, down to lot size one,” said Ledvon. “They just have to ask for the Heidenhain TNC on their next machining center so they can stay locally and globally competitive. Send your operator and programmers to our IMTS booth, and I am sure they will be impressed to see how powerful and user-friendly the Heidenhain TNC really is.”
Skateboards, Science, and Skills
Heidenhain isn’t the only exhibitor with students and teachers in mind. Mastercam developer CNC Software Inc. (Tolland, CT) is planning a wide offering of educational and interactive presentations this year, including live demonstrations of Mastercam 2019, customer appreciation activities, and more, with a focus on education, innovation, and connected manufacturing solutions.
“As we celebrate 35 years of innovation, it’s the accomplishments of Mastercam users that are most exciting,” said President and CEO Meghan West. “It’s incredible to see how many people are employed using our software, and it’s a thrill to be able to say, ‘You name it, and Mastercam can help you make it.’”
If you participated in Mastercam’s Wildest Parts competition, you might find your (hopefully winning) entry displayed in the Haas or Mastercam booth during the IMTS 2018 Smartforce Student Summit. Mastercam will also participate in two Learning Labs at its booth as part of the summit, and Paul “the Professor” Schmitt will teach material science through the relevance of a skateboard with his CreateAskate.org curriculum.
And if you’ve been yearning for recognition of your Mastercam skills, are still working on those skills, or want to become a Mastercam instructor, be sure to ask about Mastercam’s certification program and Mastercam U. “Doing so may help you become more employable,” said Stas Mylek, senior product marketing specialist, who will present the “Smart Manufacturing: Empowering Small-to-Medium Manufacturers with the Tools to Compete” seminar on Tuesday, Sept. 11.
Autodesk Inc. (San Francisco) will show off its latest release of PowerMill, Autodesk’s CAM solution for high-speed and five-axis machining. Clinton Perry, PowerMill product marketing manager, explained that PowerMill 2019 focuses on three key areas of development—enhancing existing functionality for high-efficiency machining; adding technology from the wider family of Autodesk software that can benefit PowerMill users; and developing completely new technology to allow PowerMill to support new processes.
For five-axis programming, PowerMill’s collision avoidance tools have been further improved, with a new “automatic tool-axis tilting” method for collision avoidance that simplifies the programming of these machines. Its high-efficiency roughing strategy, Vortex, was reportedly one of the first high-efficiency roughing algorithms to hit the world of CNC machining, and the 2019 release sees the inclusion of a new “From Stock” option that is based on the “Adaptive Clearing” technology provided in other Autodesk CAM software products.
“This new option creates toolpaths with offsets based on both the shape of the part being produced and the stock being milled,” said Perry. The result is toolpaths that are considerably more efficient, with shorter machining cycle times and fewer tool retractions. In recent tests, carried out in Autodesk’s Advanced Manufacturing Facility (AMF) in Birmingham, UK, a test mold was machined in P20 tool steel. The previous “From Model” option took 48 min, 28 sec to complete. The “From Stock” option used the same tooling, feeds and speeds and yet produced this same part in 32 min, 33 sec, a saving of 33%.
“As the disciplines of design and manufacturing converge, it’s more important than ever that companies understand and adapt to the future of making things. At IMTS this year, Autodesk will be showcasing the technologies that can help manufacturers embrace this change so they can make more, make their products better and do it with less resources,” said Stephen Hooper, senior director of manufacturing business strategy and marketing.
Programming Made Easy
Kitty corner from Autodesk sits 3D Systems Inc. (Rock Hill, SC), “a leader in reverse engineering, design for additive manufacturing, CAD/CAM and tooling design and 3D inspection,” said Ilan Erez, senior vice president and general manager, software, 3D Systems.
“At IMTS 2018, we’re showcasing a portfolio of solutions that are enabling manufacturers to realize a variety of competitive advantages, and helping to deliver a new level of productivity, efficiency and faster time to market,” he stated.
3D Systems will feature a comprehensive engineering software portfolio that provides streamlined prototyping and production workflows in both traditional and additive manufacturing, Erez explained. One example of this is the company’s newest version of its CAM programming software, GibbsCAM 13, which will be announced at IMTS. “Building on recent interface improvements, we continue to increase product functionality while maintaining the intuitive workflow that has made GibbsCAM a cornerstone in the CAM software world,” he said.
Included in this release are broaching capabilities and a new G-code editor that allows users to program parts that require elliptical and eccentric turning, such as camshafts. There are also several improvements to the turning module, such as advanced control over non-cutting tool movement, automatic chip breaking and bar chamfering.
Making Manufacturing Smarter
DP Technology Corp. (Camarillo, CA), developer of ESPRIT CAM software, will deliver a number of solutions for Industry 4.0 smart manufacturing at its booth. The first of these is ESPRIT’s digital twin functionality that allows users to create virtual replicas of their machine tools for programming, optimization, and simulation.
“This virtual machine ensures that whatever happens on screen will also occur on the shop floor,” said Ivan Krstic, director of product marketing. “Workpieces and cutting tools are set up virtually, resulting in exacting simulations, greater productivity, and better toolpaths for higher quality parts. We’re also demonstrating our digital thread capabilities, which tie together each step of the workflow from CAD design to finished part and ensure that none of the manufacturing process is siloed.”
ESPRIT does this by reading part data from CAD software to create machine-optimized G-code and setup sheets, then passes this information on to shop floor management, tool data management, and enterprise resource planning software. There are also “machine aware solutions” such as ESPRIT’s ProfitMilling and ProfitTurning apps. These represent a fundamental change in the way toolpaths are created, said Krstic, resulting in increased tool life and shorter cycle times.
Finally, ESPRIT’s knowledge-based machining offers artificial intelligence directly within the CAM system, making it possible to significantly cut programming time by capturing “best practice” machining processes and cutting conditions, leaving programmers more time to focus on strategic process improvements and reduce time spent on repetitive tasks.
The CAM Force
Open Mind Technologies USA Inc. (Needham, MA) is another CAD/CAM provider making some notable announcements at IMTS this year. Managing Director Alan Levine listed a number of recent developments in the company’s hyperMILL CAM software, including new technology cycles that reduce finish machining time on many surface types by 90%.
Other enhancements focus on various blending techniques to compensate for the real-world issues involved in high-performance machining related to tool lengths, tool wear, run-out, machine dynamic issues, and temperature, he noted The techniques can be enabled within a programming cycle, and to improve the blend between successive programming cycles, he added.
One example of this is using conical barrel cutters on planar, ruled and other shaped surfaces. “By doing so, the toolpath can have a 10X or larger step-down compared to ball-nose end mills, enabling substantial savings while producing fine surface finish results,” said Levine.
“Manufacturers are under constant pressure to improve delivery times while also meeting rigorous requirements,” he noted. “Many software products now offer advanced roughing strategies, which have driven the need to also reduce finishing times. Finishing time reductions help meet deliveries, while making existing machine tools even more productive. This results in increased profitability for manufacturers, accelerating their business growth and delaying the need for capital acquisitions or plant expansion. The added throughput is a clear benefit to the customer.”
Gene Granata, VERICUT product manager at numerical control simulation, optimization and analysis software provider CGTech Inc. (Irvine, CA), will tell you that the best way to do so is by simulating the post-processed toolpaths in VERICUT, where you can see how the posted machine codes will behave on the CNC machine. That critical step is now easier than ever thanks to numerous new convenience features in VERICUT version 8.2 that improve simulation visibility, speed workflow and streamline the verification process.
“We’ve included a customizable right-mouse-click ribbon that puts your favorite VERICUT functions just one right mouse click away and provides convenient access to external applications that programmers find useful,” he said. “There’s also a configurable Heads-Up Display (HUD) that improves simulation monitoring and visibility by showing the NC program, or machining and cutting status information overlaid on top of VERICUT’s graphical views. HUD provides constant access to important details about the machining process, while keeping simulation views as large as possible for optimal viewing. And NC Program Alert symbols and colors highlight errors and warnings found in NC programs, so programmers can quickly identify the root causes of problems that were detected.”
To see the new release, visit CGTech’s booth. Be sure to take a look at FORCE, a physics-based NC program optimization module that analyzes and optimizes cutting conditions to achieve ideal chip thicknesses while managing cutting forces and spindle power requirements.
“CGTech has a strong commitment towards helping our customers improve their competitive stance through NC toolpath and process optimization,” Granata said. “To that end, FORCE Turning optimization joins FORCE Milling to provide highly optimized turning, milling and mill-turn NC programs. We’re also releasing a complementary product, Force Calibration, that guides users through dyno-testing their own materials and cutters, then characterizes them for Force optimization. FORCE Calibration is perfect for companies that machine parts from proprietary materials, specialized cutting tools, or who just want to achieve maximum effectiveness through optimization.”
Another important tool in the manufacturing toolbox is product lifecycle management software (PLM). If you head over to the booth for Siemens PLM Software Inc. (Plano, TX), there you’ll see one of the leaders in this area. Rahul Garg, vice president of industrial machinery and heavy equipment, said that late last year the company announced a new solution for the industrial machinery market and is pleased to share it with visitors to IMTS 2018.
It’s called Advanced Machine Engineering, and the PLM module is said to address the challenges that machinery manufacturers face today, among them ever-increasing product complexity coupled with the demand for rapid delivery times. The solution provides a platform that connects mechanical, electrical and software engineering data and allows engineers to have access to a completely digital prototype, or digital twin, that can be tested virtually throughout the development process. Establishing an engineering platform such as this can increase user collaboration while reducing development time, delivery risk and costs, ultimately allowing for an increase in customer satisfaction at implementation and installation, Garg explained.
“Siemens’ new Advanced Machine Engineering industry solution can effectively manage complex processes and control costs, all while speeding up time to market and customers’ time to value,” he said. “By leveraging our software tools, companies can optimize iterative system designs, capturing and reusing institutional knowledge and best practices to create an innovative, modular approach to machine design and deliver the most advanced machines on the market today.”