What is it about?

Many modern manufacturing tools, such as 3D printers, laser cutters, and mills, are controlled by computers. In general, these are called computer numerical control (CNC) machines. They receive instructions from computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) systems, which translate the design of a given piece into code the CNC tool can understand. But, there is no standard way for the CNC tool to send feedback to the CAM system if it runs into a problem. Similarly, the CAM system cannot update the instructions of the CNC tool in real time if case adjustments are necessary. In this study, the authors reviewed past research works to address these issues. They analyzed standard and novel communication protocols between CNC and CAM systems and explore their pros and cons. In addition, they explained the main challenges of developing integrated CAM/CNC systems and possible ways to address them.

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Why is it important?

The current lack of feedback from CNC tools to CAM systems prevents engineers from improving the manufacturing process. To solve this problem, one needs to integrate the CNC and CAM systems instead of them working independently. This would help optimize many industrial processes for less effort. In short, CNC tools need to become smarter and not be just “servants” to the CAM system. This will improve coordination between the two units and boost their functioning. This, in turn, would make factories more productive and efficient and reduce costs of final products. KEY TAKEAWAY: Equipment builders, operators, and researchers need to work together to create smarter and more efficient manufacturing plants.

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The State of Integrated Computer-Aided Manufacturing/Computer Numerical Control: Prior Development and the Path Toward a Smarter Computer Numerical Controller, Smart and Sustainable Manufacturing Systems, April 2020, ASTM International,
DOI: 10.1520/ssms20190046.
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