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CAD-to-motion tool

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article image MintNC software was used by 'curtain bag' maker ASIC.

AUSTRALIAN Baldor ’s new toolkit called MintNC, is a PC-based environment that imports information in industry-standard CAD formats, including G-code, HPGL and DXF, and generates the required real-time motion commands.

The tool, which generates motion control paths directly from CAD drawings, is helping airbag manufacturer, Automotive Safety Components International (ASCI), to ramp up production for the curtain-bag market.

To protect automobile occupants in roll-over conditions, curtain bags that cover the side windows must stay inflated for longer than standard airbags. ASCI achieves this by adding glue to the seam stitching.

ASCI initiated a development project to automate the gluing process. Developing the applicator mechanism was relatively easy, but ASCI also wanted the machine to operate directly from the CAD drawings of airbags provided by automobile manufacturers.

In operation, two laser-cut halves of an airbag - one on top of the other - move into the machine, and the Z axis comes down and vacuum-lifts one half into the air. The glue gun mounted on the X-Y axes then moves in and deposits a 4mm-wide bead of glue around the edge of the bottom half.

The Z axis then drops back down and compresses the pieces together to create the join, and the glued bag moves along to the sewing stage of the process. Baldor provided the motion control subsystem used in the machine.

The system imports an airbag drawing, runs an optimisation script to turn the drawing lines into a time- and movement-efficient path, and then streams the resulting motion commands to the motion controller.

The real-time motion control system that controls glue application, consists of a NextMovePCI motion controller card plugged into the expansion bus of the host PC, connected to three FlexDrives and three BSM servo motors that control X-Y-Z axis movement.

Software for the real-time motion control system uses a multi-tasking facilities built into the MintMT motion language used in application, allowing the control program to be broken down into a number of small individual tasks. Some of these tasks run in the background, while others are called as required by MintNC's event-driven scripting environment.

Tasks included homing the axes, controlling Z axis movement, controlling the glue-laying X-Y axes, and collision detection algorithms and other tasks associated with machine safety. The human-machine interface to the machine was created as part of the front-end MintNC process.

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