all-in-one machine and motion controller is helping a machine builder set new
levels of performance and economy in the stone cutting sector.
The new Quantum bridge saw from Farnese Australia provides X, Y and
rotational motion for the fast and efficient shaping of stone kitchen and
bathroom surfaces, and sets a new price/performance standard compared to existing
machines in this market sector.
"The biggest challenge with application
development was to simplify the operation of the machine," says Jason DeSouza, applications
manager for Baldor
Australia. "Farnese specified that the operator interface should not require
any G-Code, or CAD/CAM software or special computer hardware."
Baldor controllers used in the application
are programmed in a proprietary language called MINT that incorporates complex
interpolated motion into a simple command set. This gives the programmer
flexibility to generate motion profiles quickly and easily without the need for
"Machine cutting paths are based on
a range of pre-defined geometric shapes and dimensional information entered by
the user," says DeSouza. "These are used to calculate and pre-load motion
commands which are executed in real time within the controller. Therefore, the
machine does not experience any time delays associated with standard computer
A unique user interface developed by Farnese
makes selection of the right
shape-cutting process very easy, avoiding much of the risk of operator error. A
range of pre-programmed shape-cutting sequences are provided to cover common
requirements, eliminating the need for skilled operator programming by the
kitchen and bathroom surface suppliers that typically purchase these machines.
The sequences include ready-to-use templates for the major sink manufacturers,
for example. The interface also supports more complex applications, allowing
programming using G-code as well as manual control.
The programming environment offers high-level
keywords for the complex movements that Farnese requires, such as angular and
circular cuts. Workbench also provides tools that allow Farnese to provide remote
support for its machines, allowing diagnostics to be run and utilities for drive
Farnese Australia has been manufacturing
stone-cutting and polishing machines for 10 years. With its latest product, the
Quantum bridge saw, the company switched to an Ethernet-based NextMove e100 controller
from Baldor. This provides all of the resources required for the real-time
interpolated control of four servomotor axes, all of the I/O on the machine,
plus an ActiveX interface to the unique Windows user interface that Farnese has
developed over many years to simplify stonemasonry.
Quantum provides a large cutting area of 3.7
x 2m. Four servomotors control the motion of the rotary saw tool, which moves
over the worktable on a gantry. Two synchronized axes drive the gantry along
the worktable because of the weight and rigidity of the tool that is required
for precision sawing over a large operating area. The other two axes provide
transverse movement along the gantry, and rotational motion of the tool head.
The latter axis eliminates the need to reposition the workpiece or tool for
changes of cutting direction, and can make angular and circular cuts to radii
as small as 10 mm. The four axes employ single-phase Baldor MicroFlex e100
drives driving BSM servomotors. These axes, plus all of the sensors and
actuators required on the machine, are controlled by the motion and machine
most significant technical aspect of the machine is the minimal hardware
required," says DeSouza. "This is mainly attributed to the Ethernet Powerlink
network used by the NextMove E100 controller and Microflex E100 servo drives."
The four servo axes on the machine
are coordinated in real time through a single Ethernet cable. This reduces
control wiring significantly while maintaining a very high level of performance
and accuracy. Each servo drive is equipped with local digital I/O for end-of-travel
and orient switches. This frees up the main controller to interface with
general-purpose I/O required for the machine without hardware expansion