OMAC Machine Tool Working Group Hosts Meeting at IMTS

Oct. 18, 2012
Representatives of three aerospace companies, two tooling vendors and three computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) vendors attended a meeting of the OMAC Machine Tool Working Group Sept. 13 at the IMTS Show in Chicago. Three additional aerospace companies and two additional CAM vendors expressed strong interest but were unable to attend on the day due to logistical problems.

Attendees at the meeting reviewed the CAM data exchange business case. The CAM vendors asked for the business advantages to be expressed in dollars instead of percentages. Business advantages of standardized data exchange include faster process planning, more data reuse and increased enterprise integration. The advantages apply particularly to communication with the supply chain where there will be more flexibility, less need for visits to suppliers to explain models, fewer data entry errors and more synergy between the engineers of different organizations because both sides will be able to access the data describing the current manufacturing solution.

Leaders reviewed some of the new shop floor applications that will be enabled when standards-based process data can be delivered to intelligent machines on the shop floor. These include adapting manufacturing operations for the setup changes that occur when the holding fixtures are adaptive and flexible, enabling the on machine acceptance of parts to avoid the time, waste and potential errors that can occur when parts are moved to measurement centers, reduced tool wear by dynamically adjusting the manufacturing process for the current schedule of a plant, last minute changes to tooling to meet the current availability of machines, tools and fixtures, and more accurate cost modeling.

Technology developed to support the implementation of CAM data exchange (see includes software libraries to make CAM data conforming to the ISO 10303-238 STEP-NC standard, software tools to view the system neutral CAM data on the desktop and in web browsers, and software tools to convert the neutral data into legacy M&G codes (for CNC programming). The meeting also reviewed the test parts that were developed during the testing phase of STEP-NC. They include 3 and 5-axis aerospace parts, power train parts and mold parts that were both machined and measured on multiple machines at multiple sites thus demonstrating the interoperability and portability of the STEP-NC data.

Attendees agreed that the "Boxy" part, previously machined at Boeing, National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) and Scania should be used as the test part for the CAM data exchange deployment. A 24 month schedule was adopted for the project with the CAM vendors each allocating half of a systems programmer to the project, and the end users each contributing the equivalent of a full time person to work on testing, verification and business development.

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