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Programming the new presses.

Turn on the television or read a magazine and you'll see that something new has been introduced that will revolutionize the wa we do business or how we live. Worldwide, advancements in technology are coming so rapidly, we're all finding it hard to keep up. And, the machine-tool industry is no exception.

Just look at the punch-press equipment on your shop floor. Chances are that much of the equipment is running at optimum performance. Yet, to the technical eye, it may be obsolete because multiple new features and options have long since been introduced to further enhance that same machine, bringing it into the 190s.

Consequently, not only has the equipment changed, but the manner in which we program the equipment has changed. After all, no matter how sophisticated the machine, it can do only what we tell it to do through programming.

Years ago, punch presses did what they were meant to do, namely punch holes. They were rugged machines, not fancy, but they did the job. Technological advancements in recent years have taken these rugged machines and made them even more durable, equipped them with options for increased user flexibility, and made them faster. Eleven years ago, a machine in. top condition could run 800 ipm and 280 strokes per minute (spm). Today, our 200 Series punch presses run as fast as 4250 ipm at punch hit rates of 500 spm.

Rotation presses

There also have been changes in the actual punching process. Turret punching, a 50-year-old technology, is giving way to rotation presses that offer automatic tool changes. A rotation press such as the Trumpf TC 240 R or TC 260 R will hold up to ten tools, all of which can be rotated at any angle. Conversely, only two or three tool stations can be rotated in a 50-tool station of a traditional turret press.

Consequently, the advances in rotation presses have demanded that programming technology also change. We now must tell the machine to turn the tool and how to turn it. Programming's solution to rotation presses is "canned cycles" or mini programs that control rotation. In fact, this programming is so "high-tech" that, surprisingly, it simplifies programming by automatically determining the degree of rotation and physically turning the tool. Because these canned cycles do much of the work automatically, they eliminate 20 to 30 lines of data that would ordinarily be entered manually.

Graphic detail

Yet another innovation in programming is on-screen graphics such as Trumagraph, standard on all 200 Series machines. Programs such as this have moved us away from "code" programming by allowing us to use graphics on-screen and on the shop floor to draw our parts.

Designed specifically with the shop floor in mind, Trumagraph is well-proved, no-mistake programming that also incorporates rotation. Anyone with shop-floor experience who can read a flat layout can now program parts on the floor. No programming experience is needed. Instead, the operator creates the part on the screen, and the control or "brains" translates it into computer code automatically.

For smaller shops that do not have a programming department, on-screen graphics are proved time-savers and make it easy to go from drawing to part in short floor-to-floor times. Additionally on-screen graphics programs help to reduce errors. As mentioned before, a machine will do only what we tell it to; so, if we make a programming error, that error will show up again to remind us that we're only human. As a result, we spend a lot of time on prove-out. Trumagraph reduces those errors by doing some of the thinking for us. It asks the operator a series of questions, and the answers provided must meet the pre-established criteria as a means of double-checking the input.

Finally, the most recent technological development has brought us the laser press, which ostensibly means more computer codes and more sophisticated programming systems. However, we've managed to build on the simplified programming already in place for rotation presses and incorporate the laser aspect into computer graphics. On machines like the TC 260 L that combine both rotation and laser cutting, programs are available that allow the operator to use graphics on the shop floor without having to program off-line.

Future programs

What new technology will the 1990s hold? Requirements for high productivity, quality parts, and short turnarounds-all factors contributing to the bottom line-will remain high priorities. Today, if a part is programmed manually with computer code versus on-screen graphic programming, it can take as much as 70 percent longer to go from drawing to final piece or prototype. The big advantages of automated programming are timesaving and flexibility, particularly important when designing prototypes. Now, the workpiece can be drawn, run, and modified in a matter of minutes. Furthermore, no matter how sophisticated equipment gets (forcing programming to upgrade), advancements will only make it easier to program on-line. Today's programming is simplified. It's not necessary to be a programmer. All you need is enthusiasm, an eagerness to learn, and the ability to adapt to a change-environment. 1 ability

Programming for robot loading

Programmable parts loader automates mechanical or hydraulic presses-new or old. Microprocessor-based Flexarm system offers a flexible way to automate loading and unloading of parts or blanks in pressworking operations. Operator programs movement patterns and other functions using a portable teach-in panel. Once he moves the arm to a discrete position, the computer figures the fastest and smoothest way to move the arm to that point every time. As with most such systems, programs may be stored for future use.

Flexarm models can lift 175 lb and perform coordinated stacking and destacking. Quick-coupling gripper attachment makes changing end effectors simple and fast. Minster Automation, Div of The Minster Machine Co, Minster, OH 45865, provides additional automation such as press-to-press shuttles, turnover stations, stackers, and destackers.

Smart control allows easy programming Modern hydraulic presses don't just slug out parts. Many provide sophisticated control of ram speed, material feed, and other factors. For example, Spirit[TradeMark] CNC hydraulic OBS gap-frame presses from Niagara Machine & Tool Works, Buffalo, NY 14240, make profitable use of Niagara-built PC 6001 programmable controllers. Presses in the series have capacities up to 275 US tons, and their hydraulic drives allow detailed programming of many operating parameters-including ram speed anywhere within 1" to 12" stroke. Inputs for programming are prompted for such factors as job identification; parts counting; positions for top stop, speed change, and bottom stop; speeds for approach, working, and return; planned tonnage; and knockout position during return stroke.

The control has redundant self-checking CPUS in its shock-isolated enclosure, and the microprocessors accept only feasible data.

The screen displays date and time, current slide position, maximum tonnage from previous cycle, slide-stopping time, spm, and applicable functions and press status. In fact, it can display the status of 64 inputs and 32 outputs. Diagnostics are built in, and the control monitors hydraulic-oil temperature as well as status of the lubrication system.

The control has six auxiliary outputs for controlling optional equipment such as stock feeders, and the system is designed for quick die changes. A linear encoder couples to the slide to determine ram position within 0.0004", programmed within 0.001".

Press programming in action

Al Tofeldt, applications engineer at Trumpf, sets up a program on a Trumagraph and TC 260 rotation machine. The initial program starts with a menu screen that shows part size and offers various operations from holes to single contour, contour row, outside contour, and modify. The operator makes his selection by pressing any one of five soft keys.

Next, the operator makes modifications to the part, notching all four corners. Further modifications define a row of holes along the top of the part, while menu prompts are at the bottom of the screen.

The part is modified once more to include a large circle and a rectangle. The next step is to lay parts out on a sheet to create a nest.

Finally, before starting the operation, the screen recaps the program inputted, including sheet size and sheet thickness. Then, it gives the "ready" command to insert the sheet.

To summarize, on-screen graphics involves drawing the parts, laying them on a sheet, making a nest of parts, and then, finally, creating NC code to run the program.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes related article on programmable controllers
Author:Matava, Richard P.
Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:Jul 1, 1990
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