IMTS Insider

See the Splendor of the CNC Machine

Category: Manufacturing Technology Aug 17, 2018

Now, with connectivity, controls, process integration and automation, job shops and manufacturers can harness more uptime from their CNCs! Visit more than 350 companies in the Metal Cutting Pavilion at IMTS 2018 to find out how to gain pertinent information to better manage assets and drive up overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) rates.

Exhibitors will demonstrate machine monitoring, collaborations between CNC and automation providers, process integration to create multi-tasking machines, and powerful software and user-friendly CNC controls. Some are even offering CNC-milled swag!

Machine Monitoring

Exhibitors will demonstrate how smart machines monitor temperatures, vibration, coolant levels and tool wear to identify potential sources of downtime before they occur.

“Communication protocols and software-based systems process monitoring enable considerable cost and time reductions in total system operation,” says Paul Gray, Ph.D., Manager for Path Planning, Front-end Design and R&D at Hurco. “Smaller job shops and those with high-mix, low-volume parts who attend IMTS 2018 will find that the benefits of intelligent machining and automation are within their reach.”

With the growth of devices compliant with the MTConnect standard, more information is available on utilization rates, chip management, causes of common alarms and premature tool wear. For companies who are not prepared for a cloud-based operation or cannot do so because of industry regulations (e.g., defense contractors), connected machines, devices and systems can operate entirely behind a company firewall.

Job shops can now take advantage of software-based systems for automation and process monitoring, or Ethernet-based communication protocols, because the cost and complexity have come down. Achieving OEE rates greater than 90 percent is now doable in job shops.

Automation & CNC Integration

In addition to Industry 4.0-enabled machines and device monitoring demonstrations, exhibitors will show how enhanced data exchange is essential for intelligent manufacturing. One example includes a CNC, a robot for automated part loading/unloading and a CMM, all connected to create a closed-loop system that automatically updates tool offsets. Easy part change-over is another.

“Automation integration used to be more expensive and difficult because you had simple I/O connections and needed to reprogram a PLC when changing parts,” says Gray. “CNC manufacturers and automation providers have been working together to provide seamless integration between the CNC control and the robot control. With software systems talking with each other over an Ethernet connection, users can now bundle all aspects of the job together. We've created a new level of flexibility and simplicity in part change-over in production cells.”

Hurco will demonstrate automation integration as part of its 50th anniversary celebration at IMTS 2018. A collaborative robot will 3D scan visitors' faces, generate a solid model from that data to create a tool path, and then either a five-axis CNC will cut the head from cylindrical aluminum stock or a three-axis CNC will cut the form into a brass coin. Both CNCs will be connected to fully automated robot systems that are coordinated by a centralized job management system.

Process Integration

Like automation, process integration continues to fuel the technology needed to remove manual intervention and drive up OEE rates. Lathes and mills have morphed into a single machine platform, the mill turn.

Machine manufacturers are adding more enhancements including five-axis CNCs that can also gear hob, gear skive and grind. Multi-tasking machines work well for companies that have limited floor space and for those who don't need a dedicated gear hobbing/skiving machine, such as R&D centers and job shops serving the transportation industry.


CNC and control manufacturers all want to improve the customer experience, and the methods for achieving that are nearly as diverse as the exhibitors in the Metal Cutting Pavilion. Software experts are bringing new perspectives to the manufacturing industry. For example, entering G-code is being replaced by importing and editing the digital model, while graphically intensive controls engage younger generations.

“Innovations at IMTS 2018 include solid model import, a technology that directly imports 3D CAD models to the CNC control,” says Gray. “Users don't have to punch in numbers or scroll through screens. They just click on the parts of the CAD model that they want to cut, and solid model import automatically creates the data blocks. It drastically reduces programming time.”

CNC - the Heart of Machining

“The CNC still forms the heart of machining, but users who want high utilization rates will evaluate CNCs in the context of a digitally connected production cell that includes automation, CMMs, enterprise systems and other devices,” says Peter R. Eelman, Vice President – Exhibitions & Business Development at AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology, which owns and produces IMTS. “With the Metal Cutting Pavilion and nine other technology pavilions at IMTS 2018, visitors have an unmatched opportunity to evaluate all these new technologies in one place.”

Check out who's exhibiting in the Metal Cutting Pavilion and read the press release.

Don't delay; register for IMTS 2018 today!

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