ISO standard used to improve machining efficiency
STEP-NC is an ISO standard designed to improve machining efficiency between end-users and cutting machine tool manufacturers. Presenters Jim Kosmala and David Odendahl explain the benefits of STEP-NC at the TRAM Aerospace Conference at IMTS.
Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) systems have provided a challenge for machining processes because there isn't a simple way for end-users to communicate high-level process information from different CAM systems to cutter manufacturers. Presenters Jim Kosmala from Okuma and David Odendahl from Boeing explained how STEP-NC at the TRAM Aerospace Conference at IMTS 2014 in Chicago, Ill., can be used to improve communication between end-users and cutter manufacturers.
STEP-NC is an ISO standard (ISO 10303-2381 and ISO 14649) that can be used to communicate machining process info between end-users and cutting machine tool manufacturers from different CAM systems from different companies in a more synchronized, streamlined process. With STEP-NC, end-users can transfer data between a CAD/CAM to a CNC or a CAD/CAM to a CAD/CAM. This is especially useful, Kosmala said, given technology's prevalence on a day-by-day basis. CAD is computer-aided design. CAM is computer-aided manufacturing. CNC is computer numerical controls.
"We live on our PCs," he said. "We are able to do real things on the plant floor and that's because the technology has allowed us to do so."
Odendahl, an associate technical fellow with Boeing, explained how STEP-NC can be used in the aerospace industry, which is known for having aircraft that lasts up to 60 years in some cases. When a plane needs a new part, Boeing can't just tell them that they should upgrade to the latest and greatest plane because, as Odendahl indicated, it isn't financially practical or feasible. He explained that the STEP-NC program allows the end-user and the manufacturer to avoid the redevelopment process because it allows the user to adjust to the supplier's available CAM system instead of having to bend over backwards for what would otherwise be a relatively simple process.
"Making change is hard," Odendahl said. "What's even harder is changing infrastructure and data-sharing between people and different groups and that's what we're doing here."
The standard also may allow more direct comparisons among machine tools, helping end-users better choose which machines should manufacture certain parts to improve throughput.
- Chris Vavra, content specialist, CFE Media, email@example.com
Learn more about STEP-NC below.
See below for some history about STEP-NC.