STEP-NC prototype demos; ARC, OMAC meetings

A STEP-NC control prototype was demonstrated at Watervliet Arsenal on Dec. 16, 2004, according to Step Tools Inc., involved in the standardization effort.


This STEP-NC control prototype was demonstrated in December 2004; another test will take place in February, see text for details of each.

A STEP-NC control prototype was demonstrated at Watervliet Arsenal on Dec. 16, 2004, according to Step Tools Inc. , involved in the standardization effort. In the image foreground, a GE Fanuc control is executing the STEP-NC program shown in the background on the projector screen. Green lines represent tool paths in the current working step that have not yet been executed by the control; and red lines represent tool paths that have been machined. On the left side of the screen the open folder shows the working steps to be executed using the current tool, and the highlighted item is the working step being executed. Feed speed for this working step is shown on the right side of the screen and the AP-224 part feature being manufactured is highlighted in the graphics. For the demonstration, data were generated using Mastercam, saved to an AP-238 file, and read into the control for immediate execution, after some lightweight reformatting to the GE Fanuc codes. The projection screen shows a prototype HMI for the control.

The most exiting thing about the demonstration is CNC-machine independence of the AP-238 data. Device independence means that the same program can be run on any control. Device independence has already been shown at Boeing and NIST. In February, the demonstration takes CNC programs created by multiple users—who didn’t know the machine configuration—and will run them on Siemens and GE Fanuc controls during the following OMAC meeting.

Meeting/demonstration : There’s an AP-238 CC1 Testing Forum in Orlando, FL, Feb. 3, 2005, hosted by the OMAC STEP-NC Working Group. The planned test is for four CAM or CAD/CAM systems to generate AP-238 machining plans for milling a test part, and then to test them on each of three CNCs to simulating the milling. The tests will be done with AP-238 CC1 (machine independent toolpaths).

Step Tools offers to get people involved. Click here for a sign-up sheet .

The meeting is part of OMAC’s meeting at ARC’s Performance Driven Manufacturing Forum USA 2005 , Jan. 31-Feb. 4, 2005.

For previous Control Engineering coverage on AP-238, see “ Standard enables data flow between CNC, CAD/CAM .”

—Mark T. Hoske, editor-in-chief, Control Engineering,

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