CNCs: Faster processing, easier integration, customization

Key Siemens developments in computer-numerical control (CNC) for machines include faster 5-axis machining, CAM integration, customizable kernel, CNC volumetric error compensation, and better integration.


Siemens Sinumerik 828D has find simple language commands for setup and programming. Courtesy: Siemens IndustryLooking at advances in computer-numerical control (CNC) capabilities can help in selecting your next machine. Key Siemens CNC developments include faster 5-axis machining, CAM integration, customizable kernel, CNC volumetric error compensation, CNC/IT integration, motion system connectivity, simpler integration, setup, use, maintenance, and human-machine interface (HMI) standardization.

Siemens has served the high-production aerospace, automotive, and medical markets with CNC technology development for 51 years for prismatic part production, mold and die work, and in the American machine tool industry, the contract manufacturer and job shop. Offerings range from dedicated turning and milling machines to the most complex 5-axis, multi-spindle and extended bed gantry machining centers.

This Siemens CNC machine will be part of a new Elk Grove Village, IL, demonstration center. Courtesy: CFE Media, Mark T. HoskeRecent developments include the following -

Faster 5-axis machining: Siemens Sinumerik 840D sl provides 5-axis machining of complex workpieces, especially in the aerospace and automotive manufacturing segments. The Sinumerik Traori (transformation orientation) function, for instance, allows tool center point programming, so part programs can be processed independently of the tool length and the machine tool kinematics. This helps to greatly reduce the size of a part program, when compared to a traditional point-to-point method. It also allows the same part program to run on different machine tool kinematics. In addition, the Sinumerik 840D sl has a compressor function, which helps generate smooth transitions at block boundaries to ensure optimum cycle time and accurate results in 5e-axis machining.

CAM integration: Since many users use computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) systems to produce part programs, this becomes an integral step in the overall machining process. Siemens NX CAM, a CAD/CAM/CNC system, has an optimized postprocessor for the Siemens control. The resulting part program can take advantage of many high-level Sinumerik programming commands for high-quality machining results.

Customizable kernel: Sinumerik CNCs can be found on sophisticated machine tools. Sinumerik open NC Kernel architecture allows customization to support nearly any machine configuration, helping machine tool builders and end users.

CNC volumetric error compensation for a machine tool (as opposed to individual axis compensation) supports an extremely high level of machine accuracy, which could be very important on a tight tolerance aerospace application, for example. On the Sinumerik 840D sl that capability is called VCS (Volumetric Compensation System).

Integration of the CNC into the IT environment enables users to evaluate overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), exchange data with an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, schedule preventive maintenance, monitor systems remotely, and perform other functions, helping large end-users to optimize their factories. Siemens MCIS (Motion Control Information Systems) software suite can enhance machine tool productivity and reliability.

CNC system integration and connectivity challenges can be viewed from different levels.

  • Motion system connectivity integrates the CNC, drives, and motors. Siemens Drive-CLiQ interface provides clean, fast, and efficient system connectivity. Sinumerik CNC connects to third-party drive and motor systems, which could help in a gantry machine retrofit, for example, when an end user may want to retain and integrate a very large motor with the new CNC.
  • Integration of supplementary hardware and software is resolved by the open architecture Sinumerik CNC and the Siemens Solution Partner program, external partners, who can each provide supplementary solutions that seamlessly integrate tool and process monitoring, measuring and calibration, and other systems.
  • Simpler set, use, maintenance: For midrange, or compact-class, machine tools, a simplified CNC makes the tool easier to use. Machine tool builders, job shop owners, and machine operators using the new Sinumerik 828D will find simple language commands for setup and programming, a maintenance-free control with the elimination of wearable components, and a SIM card for the text messaging of various machine conditions when running in fully automatic mode or in lights-out environments.
  • HMI standardization: Sinumerik Operate HMI simplifies the user interface found on multiple Siemens CNC platforms. This standardized HMI allows for easy “learn one, learn all” cross-training in the busy shop or large-scale production department.

- Adapted from information provided by Ryan Legg, Siemens Sinumerik CNC Systems product marketing manager; Edited by Mark T. Hoske, CFE Media, Control Engineering.

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