By Marc Stautner, Eva Berckmann and Denys Plakhotnik
Dr. Marc Stautner is Research Director at ModuleWorks GmbH
Eva Berckmann is Research Project Manager at ModuleWorks GmbH
Dr. Denys Plakhotnik is Research Manager and Senior Software Developer at ModuleWorks GmbH
User interfaces on the CNC
Computer Numerical Controls (CNCs) are used in almost all kinds of production processes. Because CNCs depend on the production cycles of the hardware to which they are connected, CNC implementations need to assure a certain level of interoperability. The technological standards of current CNC user interfaces do not provide the rich user experience expected of today’s HMIs. In addition, not all available information is connected and provided to the user.
Information such as the current axis values and machining program are displayed as text and only experienced users are able to use the information directly. When new data is introduced into these systems, either by exchanging the CNC, adding hardware to the system or by adding simulation software, it is difficult to connect this new data to the information currently in the system.
Measurements from additional hardware can be displayed as plots, but it is difficult to correlate a position on the plot with the programmed toolpath and the machine values at that instant in time. Other sources that deliver data which is more related to machine and workpiece geometry (FEA Simulation, Energy Simulation and Force Simulation) also need to be incorporated into the user experience.
Creating a strategy that combines these data sources with user feedback has high potential. As part of the Twin-Control project, ModuleWorks is working together with its project partners to create a system that utilizes such a strategy.
3D Simulation and user interface combined
The general concept of this strategy is to extend the given hardware and software by additional measurement modules and software add-ons.
On the software side, the aim is to replace the standard data display methods (tables, graphs…) with a graphical interface that shows the current shape of the workpiece and the machine to enable users to immediately see what is currently happening. This directly connects the real world of the process, the machine and the workpiece with the data at a certain instant in time. This allows users to directly find correlations and problems and apply the needed modifications to the process.
To connect the real-world shapes, a virtual representation of the machine and the current shape of the workpiece needs to be maintained throughout the entire process. ModuleWorks uses its industry-proven MachSim (the machine and its kinematic) and CutSim (actual shape of the workpiece during the manufacturing process) software to create the 3D representation of the workpiece geometry and machine that can then be integrated into the CNC user interface.
For the Twin-Control project, this methodology has been extended and optimized. ModuleWorks has developed an interface to exchange internal simulation data for processing analytic modules that allow the prediction of process behaviour such as stability and cutting forces. To display this information to the user at the machine, a second interface connects this data with the workpiece shape that was calculated in parallel.
The other interfaces take real-world measurement data and integrate it into the same representation of the workpiece shape. The virtual system is completed by a system that delivers warnings to users and delivers additional security to the machine. Users can directly correlate data with the current shape of the workpiece. On the machine, this system can stop the process to avoid crashes and other unwanted process errors.
ModuleWorks and its project partners bring the combined expertise and use-cases for creating and evaluating such a new concept. Production systems of all kinds will benefit from the concepts and technology developed in the project.
ModuleWorks is a software component provider for the CAD/CAM industry. ModuleWorks’ expertise in toolpath creation and simulation is recognized throughout the CAM industry and its software components and development services are used by the majority of the leading CAM vendors for sophisticated industry focused solutions across diverse business sectors. ModuleWorks 5-Axis and Simulation software has been used in the manufacture of complex parts for over a decade and they have many users across the global CAD/CAM industry. The new ModuleWorks components for additive and hybrid machining extend the proven ModuleWorks functionality to the field of 3D printing.