CNC machining is all very well and good in the here and now, following, as it does, pre-programmed and constant speed and feed rates. However, as manufacturing gets more complex, so must the programs that inform the process. There must be a machining revolution, to make control more adaptive and dynamic.
Under CNC machining, machine tools function through numerical control. What is needed for ‘lights out’ machining, or the Factory of the Future, are analytic tools and feedback systems that adjust to operating conditions in real time. In common practice, the control mechanisms of a CNC machine follows pre-programmed and constant speed and feed-rates for each cutting segment of a given shape. As such, CNC programs can’t take into consideration any dynamic variations encountered during cutting.
The Future in Adaptive Machining
Is the industry is moving towards – and, of course, many talk the talk on this – to full automation, a solution to the inflexibility of CNC machines is required. This solution lies in adaptive control systems, which continuously monitor cutting conditions in real time and provide automatic cutting parameter optimization. Adaptive control is often part of tool or machine condition monitoring systems and involves different sensing, data processing, and actuation solutions.
A typical adaptive control system monitors the power or cutting forces of a cut in real time and adjusts the feed rate in order to optimize cutting conditions. Adaptive control technologies are still evolving as new machine tool control, sensors, and concepts continue to develop and will become increasingly effective and valuable to manufacturers.
The reality is that the software and analytic models required for a true Factory of the Future will require highly dynamic, multi-objective optimization software. This software will need to optimize itself for given conditions and for total cost consideration in order to operate at maximum overall efficiency. This means optimizing balance cutting speed/feeds in real time, versus tooling costs and part quality to ultimately provide the best performance and cost against specific objectives.
Of course, we’re still far from Factory of the Future ready, and implementing any changes to manufacturing processes naturally brings a level of uncertainty and fear of disruption. OPTIS aims to remove this uncertainty for customers by addressing specific machining challenges in our fully instrumented machining lab. Customers benefit from keeping their own processes running as usual, so they can stay focused on production. The machining lab also allows us to prove our solutions without extensive trialing on customer processes, greatly reducing any implementation risks.