Given the high costs of new machine tools, many manufactures are seeking to re-control their existing machinery. These re-control projects allow manufacturers to realize some significant cost savings, while modernizing the control system, which is typically the backbone of the machine tool itself. The re-control also eliminates costly obsolescence issues with older electronics. Some of these new control systems come with advanced features that allow manufacturers to compensate for minor mechanical imperfections, as well as mechanical wear that has accumulated over years of use. And quite often this can eliminate the need to do a complete mechanical rebuild.
The Aerotech A3200 Digital Automation Platform has played a key role in accomplishing these objectives for many large global manufacturers. The A3200 software-based controller utilizes off-the-shelf PC components. The platform features a robust, high-performance motion engine with the ability to easily interface real-world I/O, PLCs, vision systems and robotics, all within one powerful, unified programming environment. Many programming options for the application engineer are available including RS-274 G-code, VisualBASIC®, C, C++ and the powerful .NET environment. The A3200 utilizes the industry-standard super-high-performance FireWire® (IEEE-1394) network. The A3200 allows the system architect the flexibility of interfacing to the existing drives and motors and preserving the legacy servo drive and motor investment, as well as the known mechanical integrity. Alternatively, the possibly obsolete drives and motors may be replaced with a higher performance FireWire version. Either solution can be implemented easily.
Integrated Industrial Technologies (I2T) is a value-added reseller and system integrator of the Aerotech A3200 automation platform. Utilizing the powerful development environment of the A3200, I2T has developed intuitive replacements for many industrial applications including milling, grinding and gantry robots. The A3200 is loaded on an industrial PC and becomes a drop-in replacement to the existing HMI cutout, resulting in minimal change over time, all with the ability to retain any existing drive and motor investment. The A3200's intuitive user interface also eliminates the need to retrain operators.
One such case study would include Atlas Industries, a producer of high-quality, precision-machined crankshafts. These precision crankshafts are machined from castings, forgings and billets, with unsurpassed tolerances. By significantly reducing the cost of putting a quality machine tool into production, and increasing throughput and quality, Atlas Industries has been very successful in competing in the global marketplace.
A new service lets engineers and orthopedic surgeons design and 3D print highly accurate, patient-specific, orthopedic medical implants made of metal -- without owning a 3D printer. Using free, downloadable software, users can import ASCII and binary .STL files, design the implant, and send an encrypted design file to a third-party manufacturer.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.