Microprocessors make CNC machines faster, smarter
CNC technology follows mass-market computing trends, so advances in general-purpose computing engines make more capable controllers available for CNC systems. Link to tutorial.
Oak Brook, IL — That general-purpose-computing needs drive microprocessor trends is a fact of life. Simple semiconductor-fabrication economics makes mass-marketable designs very inexpensive, while making designs aimed at smaller market segments, such as CNC, cost prohibitive. The good news is that rapid development of advanced computer chips for consumer products provides CNC machine developers with a steady supply of high-performing control processors at relatively low prices. The bad news is that sometimes there is a disconnect between what CNC machine technology needs and what general-purpose computing provides.
,” a newly published online tutorial article (www.controleng.com/article/CA6634377.html) by Control Engineering , explores how semiconductor device advances affect CNC controller trends. The article looks at how semiconductor trends, including multicore processors, system on chip technology, Flash memory, and reduced power dissipation, dovetail with CNC controller needs.
“Overall, positives outweigh negatives,” says C.G.Masi for Control Engineering . “Following the path of semiconductor device advances provides CNC controllers with capabilities only dreamed of before. Where CNC needs do not align well with consumer electronics trends, OEMs developing new CNC products have to find work-arounds to make the available parts do CNC jobs adequately.”
An example is in the area of non-volatile solid-state disks (SSDs). Mobile consumer devices have a short life span, so limitations on how many times a Flash memory cell can be rewritten are not a problem there. For CNC, however, limited write-erase cycles is a major problem. In CNC applications, system developers want to keep a real-time record of the entire machine’s current state as a safety feature in case of unexpected system shutdown, such as during a power failure. That means updating the SSD data in real time, which can rapidly exhaust Flash memory cells.
Learn more about this rapidly developing technology area here: “
Annual Salary Survey
After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.
The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.