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MTConnect's New Data Items for Additive Manufacturing, Robotics, and Machine Tools

Category: Technology Intelligence Mar 4, 2021


In September 2020, the MTConnect® Institute released Version 1.6.0 of the MTConnect standard, the free, open industry terminology or “semantic vocabulary” for discrete manufacturing. The new version includes several important updates.

Several new data items and information models were added for additive manufacturing (AM), including a high-frequency data display and new data types and subtypes. As AM continues to be embraced and grow in popularity in the manufacturing industry, more definitions are added to the standard by the Institute. While some of the definitions might be a bit obscure for the average reader, one new definition, or data type, is a bit easier to understand: humidity.

We asked Russell Waddell of the MTConnect Institute to explain in layman’s terms what it means that humidity was added to the standard. He explained, “If a manufacturer is building an AM part in an enclosed, sealed space to provide environmental control over the process, the level of humidity is a critical environmental control, as it will potentially affect the porosity of the part, the propensity to clog a nozzle, and other items. By providing a standard definition of humidity and defining standard measurement units, there will be no uncertainty or ambiguity about the definition and measurement of humidity going forward in the industry.”

New data types and subtypes were added for machine tools, including execution states, work offsets, program header subtypes, machine specifications, voltage, and amperage. In the area of robotics, several expanded data items were added, including path orientation, coordinate systems, and joints and axes.

“Despite the pandemic, there has been strong and consistent momentum in advancing and expanding the standard over the past year. The committee is coming out with a new release every six months pretty consistently, and we expect Version 1.7.0 to be out in the spring of 2021,” Waddell added.

Manufacturing industry standard MTConnect standardizes factory device data.

Industry adoption continues to advance the standard

MTConnect continues to be embraced in major industries, including the aerospace industry, where GE Aviation, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin are using it as they ramp up their digital factory initiatives. There is also demonstrated interest by major oil and gas suppliers, space exploration companies, and business platform and hosting companies.

Boeing, Sandvik, and Lockheed Martin are also using MTConnect for their digital twin architecture. Readers who are interested in learning more about how these three companies are using the MTConnect, QIF, and STEP standards in their digital twin architecture can learn more about three demonstrated use cases, including dynamic robot scheduling at Boeing, airframe weight reduction at Lockheed Martin, and machining process optimization at Sandvik Cormorant/KTH University, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbsC_qzB8us.

For additional information about MTConnect, visit these important links:

The release notes for Version 1.6 can be found here: https://mtconnect.squarespace.com/s/V1_6_ReleaseNotes.xlsx.

Manufacturers and software developers can find an MTConnect agent written in C++ at: https://github.com/mtconnect/cppagent.

Developers, system architects, and process/systems engineers can find the SysML model of MTConnect at: https://github.com/mtconnect/mtconnect-sysml-model.

Live sample data for testing can be found at: https://demo.mtconnect.org.

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