AUSTRALIAN Baldor has released new software that provides automation builders with an extremely rapid and flexible solution for creating contouring and profiling machinery and automation.
Believed to be the highest level and simplest-to-use machine control solution ever released for this application sector, the tool can cut development cycles by an order of magnitude, easily shaving months from time to market.
The new software is called MintNC. It provides a PC-based environment that will import information in industry-standard CAD formats including G-code, HPGL and DXF, and generate the required real-time motion commands.
Included are tools for creating application-specific user interfaces, using standard programming environments such as Visual Basic or C.
For example, users can easily create custom man-machine interface that present graphical displays of geometry combined with program listings and simple machine controls such as jog and home buttons.
Developed over 15 years by a specialist engineering software developer, Baldor has licensed the intellectual property, and integrated it tightly with the popular high-level Mint motion programming environment.
The combination delivers an automated means of performing very high-speed contouring for servo and stepper motor based motion systems.
MintNC may be used in a variety of modes depending on the process requirements. It can provide an automatic CAD-to-production system for one-off tasks such as rapid prototyping, for instance.
Equally, it could be used as a front-end to create solutions for repetitive tasks, such as the cutting of vehicle air bags. Here, users can import CAD files, integrate the geometry with the speed and control data, and export the data as a motion script suitable for downloading to a Mint motion controller.
The standard interfaces built into MintNC, including ActiveX compatibility, allow developers to integrate systems readily with other specialist hardware. An example might be cameras and image processing libraries.
Data from a subsystem like this could be used to generate geometric information to drive the motion hardware, facilitating the automation of a wide range of further applications - especially those where products are made in single or low quantities, and production tasks must be adapted to suit the item being processed.
Real-time motion control hardware support is provided, including the multi-axis NextMove card which plugs into a standard PCIbus slot on a PC, and matched drives and servo motors.
Mint-compatible motion controllers provide PLC-style I/O resources - providing machine builders with a comprehensive set of the components required to configure and assemble machine control systems.
Among the applications foreseen for MintNC are laser and water jet profilers, routers, grinders and tangential knife cutters, together with a wide range of related specialised production tasks such as welding, imaging, and inspection.