Computer aided design and manufacturing processes are fundamental in the manufacturing sector. The current CAD-CAM-CNC production methods only offer a unidirectional manufacturing information flow from CAD to CNC. Moreover, the manufacturing information loss and fragmentation during the transition along the CAD-CAM-CNC chain, disallows changes made downstream to be tracked back upstream. Additionally, due to the lack of interoperability between various software and hardware systems, the SMEs have to select their production technology carefully in order to be compatible with as many customers and suppliers as they can.
The state of the art:
The conventional way of using numerical controlled (NC) machine tools involves the utilisation of G&M codes. These codes form a sequential programming language formalised in ISO6983 that only contains simple commands for mechanical axis movement and switching operations; there is no notion of geometry or logical structures. In order to satisfy the requirements of interoperable manufacturing, a new standard has been developed under the ISO 14649 (STEP-NC). A STEP-NC compliant programme would contain the geometry and topology, machining working steps, manufacturing features and the tolerances of these features among other items of information about the final product in a machine tool independent format.
The innovation beyond the state of the art:
The aim of the project is to create a STEP-NC compliant manufacturing support application for machining technologies such as milling and turning to respond to the global requirement for an interoperable and bidirectional manufacturing platform for SMEs in order to increase their competitiveness. The performance of the application will be tested on milling and turning manufacturing.
The objectives are as follow:
- – Realisation of a high productivity STEP-NC standard compliant application. A STEP and STEP-NC compliant application will be developed, which is (1) able to cooperate with commercial CAD thought STEP standard (as product model) for product data exchange (ISO 10303) and (2) support product and manufacturing data integration (as manufacturing model) down to the machine tools through the use of STEP-NC (ISO 14649 standards).
- – Easy to use and faster machine programming. The operator will be able to see the product and manufacturing information together and simulations will allow manufacturing without error for the first time. The new application will support manufacturing with an extensive library of materials, tools, common manufacturing processes.
- – Increased overall manufacturing efficiency. The SMEs will be able to increase their manufacturing output in the long run, because the application will store all the manufacturing history in a structured and searchable way leading to traceability.
- – Toward universal manufacturing platform: Interactive guidelines (or tutorials) of the application will help CAD/CAM software developers to integrate additional manufacturing technologies.
DURATION: 39 months
The STEPMAN project is co-funded by the European Commission through the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) managed by REA-Research Executive Agency (http://ec.europa.eu/research/rea) through the funding scheme “Research for the Benefit of SME-s” under Grant Agreement No.286962.