Manufacturing Engineering: What are some of the latest advances in NC simulation, verification and optimization software?
Gene Granata: Simulation technology must keep pace with rapid advances in manufacturing so that users can learn to use and protect new equipment. Recent advances in Vericut include support for additive manufacturing and hybrid methods, robotic welding, laser sintering, and grinding while dressing to change the shape of the grinding wheel.
Data for simulation is available from many sources—CAD/CAM systems, tool data management systems, PLM systems, and the Internet. Interfaces provide quick access to these sources to streamline simulation setup, create more robust simulations, run faster and catch potential problems.
Optimization like Vericut’s Force uses dyno-tested and proven cutting data to predict cutting forces, deflection potential, and spindle loads through simulation. Force calculates ideal feed rates for each cut while simultaneously limiting cutting forces and spindle power demands to safe levels. Interactive Force Charts show trends, expose overload conditions and identify underutilized tools with good opportunity for optimization.
ME: Why has simulation, verification and optimization become so critical?
Granata: On-machine prove-outs are time-consuming, and visibility is often poor. With simulation, users get clear views of the cutting process regardless of machine or setup complexity. By using digital machines to simulate the NC programs that will run on real machines, customers eliminate potential crashes and tool reach problems, analyze cutting methods, and prove out new NC programs faster—freeing CNC machines to make parts.
New CNC machines cost more, move faster, and are more capable than vintage counterparts. For new CNC machines, simulation plays a vital role in post-processor development and preparing NC programs in advance for when the machines come online. Simulation can prevent problems like these: machine crashes; improper code use; setups, cutting strategies and tools that won’t work; and incorrectly machined parts.
Shops need to make parts faster and cheaper—NC program optimization enables cutters and machines to be utilized to their full potential, increasing shop throughput. As companies acquire new NC equipment, simulation helps evaluate part manufacturing strategies to determine which equipment will work best.
ME: What can these simulation/verification techniques do today that wasn’t possible a few years ago?
Granata: Pay closer attention to parameters. Simulation incorporates digital twins of CNC machines to show how machines will react to the codes in NC programs and more accurately predict machining times. Simulation that also incorporates a machine’s subroutines/cycles and parameter settings improves digital twin accuracy by accounting for machine limitations and nuances.
Users can simulate entire NC manufacturing processes end-to-end, not just one operation or program. By linking manufacturing operations (setups) and transferring the stock workpieces between them, users see the effects of all operations applied in the order planned to produce parts.
Cloud-based repositories and some tooling manufacturers’ websites offer “smart” tooling—tool assemblies accompanied by recommended cutting feeds, speeds and usage parameters. This information helps NC programmers to set cutting limits and preset optimization settings to improve performance and tool life.
ME: How can machinists learn to employ their simulations effectively?
Granata: Go paperless. Automated electronic reports can be generated to document the manufacturing process—including setups, cutting tools used, and machining times—and to prove the simulated finished part matched the intended design. This information can help with shop floor planning/scheduling and provide useful data for more accurate cost estimating. Simulation has more to offer than just verifying NC programs. For example, Vericut can save a Review file of the entire simulated manufacturing process. Machinists, QA and other personnel can use Review files to see how tools approach/exit the workpiece, check simulated cut part condition at any stage of cutting and compare it to real parts at the same stage, and share machining strategies or concerns with others.
ME: What do manufacturers look for most from their NC simulation?
Granata: Accuracy. Simulating NC code programs on digital twin machines that mimic the real machine’s capabilities and limitations is the only reliable way to know how the NC codes will be interpreted by the machine/control, and how it will move to cut the part.
Many companies looking for a simulation product are also looking for optimization capabilities. Even if they aren’t ready to optimize NC programs today, they want to be prepared to optimize in the future.
Choosing a simulation provider with a reputation for great support, training and consulting options can determine how quickly and how well software gets implemented. Access to local support, prompt responses to technical challenges, and partnering to create innovative solutions are critical.
ME: What’s new in the latest version of Vericut software from your company?
Granata: A new Force Calibration product enables customers with dynamometer equipment or proprietary materials to design their own scientific cutting tests, measure cutting forces, and calibrate materials for use by Vericut’s Force optimization.
Two-way communication between CAD/CAM systems like Siemens NX and Vericut sends NX operations to Vericut for optimization, then updates CAM operations with optimized feed rates and motions. Highly optimized NC programs can then be created via standard post-processing, without further processing or edits.
Vericut Version 9 lets you control what you see, with graphics that display sharper views of the cutting process and more realistic CNC machines, tooling and machined parts. Enhancements for hiding/showing objects, translucency and sectioning offer clear views of the cutting process regardless of machine or setup complexity. The flexible viewing environment enables users to rotate or zoom the part while cutting, switch between view types or desktop layouts, and use Vericut’s X-Caliper, Section and AUTO-DIFF functions in any view.
ME: Describe how key customers are employing your simulation software.
Granata: Big data from simulation can provide detailed cutting information, such as predicted machining times, material removal rates, chip loads, cutting forces at the tool tip, and spindle power. The information is useful for balancing machine workloads, judging effectiveness of NC programs, and providing more accurate quotes for incoming work.
It doesn’t matter how you created it. A number of customers choose simulation software that runs independently from, but can be tightly integrated with their CAD/CAM systems, and is driven by NC code data. This is particularly important for companies with multiple CAD/CAM systems, are considering changing CAD/CAM providers, or who may edit NC programs after creation.
You don’t have to see it to know whether it’s good. There are a growing number of companies that don’t even watch simulations of their parts. They use batch processing that queues jobs to run, then look at the results, such as Vericut reports, log files, and optimization output. If a problem is identified, users can open in-process models saved automatically during the simulation, or look at a Review file to investigate deeper.
TrendMiner, a Software AG company based in Hasselt, Belgium, announced that its TrendMiner data analytics software would be integrated into Siemens AG’s Mindsphere IoT software platform.
TrendMiner recently added its updated TrendMiner 2019. R1 software, which enables process and asset experts to analyze, monitor and predict operational performance through trend analysis of time-series data.
The integration of TrendMiner with Siemens Mindsphere enables its users to analyze, monitor and predict their sensor-generated time-series data stored in Siemens’ IoT platform. With TrendMiner’s patent-pending pattern recognition technology, users can visually and statistically analyze operational performance of their processes and assets.
Siemens AG, Berlin and Munich, Germany has extended its Sinumerik Edge applications with the addition of AnalyzeMyWorkpiece/Monitor, which enables continuous monitoring of workpiece production to improve part quality control.
AnalyzeMyWorkpiece/Monitor is a new Sinumerik Edge application based on high-frequency data for continuous monitoring of the machining process. Measured values such as position data, torque values or control deviations, together with context information (for example the tool currently being used) are acquired from the machine with high frequency and without feedback via Sinumerik Edge. The measured values are compared continuously with a reference model. In the event of deviations that exceed a predefined level, the application logs the result, sends it to the machine tool and enables prompt responses from the operator.
This means, for example, that unique process-parallel quality control is supported during the operation, according to the company.
Software developer Materialise NV, Leuven, Belgium, announced partnerships with HP, Nikon and Essentium to bring improved productivity and connectivity to additive manufacturing operations. The partnerships, announced during the 2019 RAPID+TCT Conference in Detroit, will support the adoption of 3D printing by industrial manufacturers. Materialise also announced that it planned to release a new version of its 3D printing operations management software, Streamics 8, in June.
The development of better machines, materials, and software, as well as advanced metal printing, increasingly position 3D printing as a complementary technology for the production of final products, according to the company.
“To take advantage of large-scale 3D printing in an increasingly cost-competitive environment, manufacturing companies require increased productivity and efficiency and a seamless integration of 3D printing into their existing and proven production processes,” said Fried Vancraen, Materialise founder and CEO, in a statement. “Overcoming some of the remaining limitations attributed to 3D printing will require continued innovation and collaboration to create a more open market model with more control, more choice and ultimately lower cost.”
Verisurf Software Inc., Anaheim, Calif., announced its new Verisurf 2019 at the Control Show in Stuttgart, Germany. Verisurf 2019 is the latest release of the company’s measurement software for automated quality inspection and reporting, scanning and reverse engineering, tool building, and assembly guidance.
Enhancements in the new release focus on automated inspection and compatibility across the manufacturing enterprise, whether in the quality lab or on the shop floor.
“Verisurf 2019 provides a common inspection and measurement platform for the manufacturing enterprise; it allows users to create a single inspection plan that can be implemented across all measuring devices, regardless of type or brand,” said Ernie Husted, Verisurf president and CEO, in a statement. “Verisurf 2019 can be used to program and operate new and legacy CNC CMMs, and the same inspection routine can also be used with portable arms and trackers. This universal compatibility provides increased productivity and continuity between first article and production inspection, as well as the flexibility to move between the quality lab and the shop floor.”
Added features and enhancements include Feature Data Extraction, a new function that quickly and easily constructs measured features by extracting data from point clouds created using laser scanners or touch-probe devices; Details Pane and Feature Balloons, two new features that make it possible to view real-time deviations of a measured feature compared to nominal; and Power Mesh, a new reverse engineering feature of Verisurf 2019 that offers a “one-click” tool to create, clean up, refine, smooth and close new or existing mesh models from multiple overlapping point clouds generated from measured scan data.
Hypertherm, Hanover, N.H., a manufacturer of industrial cutting systems and software, announced an update to the company’s ProNest 2019 CAD/CAM nesting software for automated cutting. This new release contains targeted features and enhancements designed to make customers more efficient and profitable.
New features in ProNest 2019 include a PDF import so programmers and operators can directly import vector-based PDF files such as engineering drawings or specification sheets; Scribe text additions that make it possible to automatically mark parts during import with unique identifying information such as a part name, customer name, or work order number; and Reposition work zones, which allows parts to span multiple work zones in a single nest as reposition machines can now cut parts in sections, beginning the cut in one work zone before repositioning and completing the cut in another zone.
Software Update is edited by Contributing Editor Patrick Waurzyniak; contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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