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Numerical Control (NC)

1. Fundamentals of NC Technology
2. Computer Numerical Control (CNC)
3. DNC
4. Applications of NC
5. Engineering Analysis of NC Positioning Systems
6. NC Part Programming
Numerical Control (NC) Defined
Form of programmable automation in which the mechanical actions of a machine tool or other
equipment are controlled by a program containing coded alphanumeric data

The alphanumeric data represent relative positions between a workhead (e.g., cutting tool) and
a workpart

When the current job is completed, a new program can be entered for the next job

Basic Components of an NC System

1. Program of instructions

Part program in machining

2. Machine control unit

Controls the process

3. Processing equipment

Performs the process

Basic Components of an NC System

NC Coordinate Systems
For flat and prismatic (block-like) parts

Milling and drilling operations

Rotational axes about each linear axis

Coordinate Axis System for Flat and Prismatic Parts

NC Coordinate Systems
For rotational parts:

Turning operations

Conventional Cartesian coordinate system, but only x- and z-axes

y-axis not needed in turning

Coordinate Axis System for Rotational Parts

Motion Control Systems

Point-to-Point systems

Also called position systems

System moves to a location and performs an operation at that location (e.g., drilling)

Also applicable in robotics Continuous path systems

Also called contouring systems in machining

System performs an operation during movement (e.g., milling and turning)

Point-To-Point Control in NC Drilling of Three Holes in Flat Plate

Continuous Path Control in NC Profile Milling of Part Outline

Interpolation Methods:
1. Linear interpolation

Straight line between two points in space

2. Circular interpolation

Circular arc defined by starting point, end point, center or radius, and direction

3. Helical interpolation

Circular plus linear motion

4. Parabolic and cubic interpolation

Free form curves using higher order equations

Absolute and Incremental Positioning

Absolute positioning

Locations defined relative to origin of axis system Incremental positioning

Locations defined relative to previous position

Example: drilling

Absolute vs. Incremental Positioning

The workhead is presently at point (20, 20) and is to be
moved to point (40, 50)

In absolute positioning, the move is specified by

x = 40, y = 50

In incremental positioning, the move is specified

by x = 20, y = 30.

Computer Numerical Control (CNC)

Is defined as an NC system whose MCU is based on a dedicated microcomputer rather than on a hardwired controller
Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Features

Storage of more than one part program

Various forms of program input

Program editing at the machine tool

Fixed cycles and programming subroutines


Acceleration and deceleration computations

Communications interface


Machine Control Unit MCU

CNC software
There are three types of software programs:
1) Operating system software
2) Machine interface software
3) Application software

Direct numerical control (DNC) control of multiple machine tools by a
single (mainframe) computer through direct connection
Distributed numerical control network consisting of central computer
connected to machine tool MCUs, which are CNC
Present technology
Two way communication

General Configuration of a Direct Numerical Control System

Connection to MCU is behind the tape reader (BTR). In distributed NC, entire programs are
downloaded to each MCU, which is CNC rather than conventional NC

Distributed Numerical Control Configurations

Switching network

Local area network (LAN)

Applications of NC

Machine tool applications:

Milling, drilling, turning, boring, grinding

Machining centers, turning centers, mill-turn centers

Punch presses, thermal cutting machines, etc.

Other NC applications:

Component insertion machines

Drafting machines

Electrical wire wrap machines

Tape laying machines

Filament winding machines

Common NC Machining Operations

CNC Horizontal Milling Machine

NC Application Characteristics (Machining)

Where NC is most appropriate:
1. Batch production
2. Repeat orders
3. Complex part geometries
4. Much metal needs to be removed from the workpart
5. Many separate machining operations on the part
6. The part is expensive
Advantages of NC
Nonproductive time is reduced
Greater accuracy and repeatability
Lower scrap rates
Inspection requirements are reduced
More complex part geometries are possible
Engineering changes are easier to make
Simpler fixtures
Shorter lead times
Reduce parts inventory
Operator skill-level requirements are reduced

Disadvantages of NC

Higher investment cost

Higher maintenance effort

CNC machines are more expensive

CNC machines are more technologically sophisticated

Part programming issues

Need for skilled programmers

Time investment for each new part

Repeat orders are easy because part program is already available

Higher utilization is required

NC Positioning System

Typical motor and leadscrew arrangement in an NC positioning system for one linear axis
For x-y capability, the apparatus would be piggybacked on top of a second perpendicular axis

Analysis of Positioning NC Systems

Two types of NC positioning systems:
1. Open-loop - no feedback to verify that the actual position achieved
is the desired position
2. Closed-loop - uses feedback measurements to confirm that the final
position is the specified position
Precision in NC positioning -three measures:
1. Control resolution
2. Accuracy
3. Repeatability

Operates without verifying that the actual position achieved in

the move is the desired position

Uses feedback measurements to confirm that the final position

of the worktable is the location specified in the program

Optical Encoder
Device for measuring rotational position and speed
Common feedback sensor for closed-loop NC control

Precision in NC Positioning
Three measures of precision:
1. Control resolution - distance separating two adjacent addressable
points in the axis movement
2. Accuracy - maximum possible error that can occur between the
desired target point and the actual position taken by the system
3. Repeatability - defined as 3s of the mechanical error distribution
associated with the axis

NC Part Programming
NC part programming consists of planning and documenting the sequence of
processing steps to be performed on an NC machine. The NC programming
methods are:
1. Manual part programming
2. Computer-assisted part programming
3. Part programming using CAD/CAM
4. Manual data input

Manual part programming

Binary Coded Decimal System:
Each of the ten digits in decimal system is coded with four-digit binary
The binary numbers are added to give the value
BCD is compatible with 8 bits across tape format, the original storage
medium for NC part programs
Eight bits can also be used for letters and symbols

Creating Instructions for NC

Bit - 0 or 1 = absence or presence of hole in the tape
Character - row of bits across the tape
Word - sequence of characters (e.g., y-axis position)
Block - collection of words to form one complete instruction
Part program -

sequence of instructions (blocks)

Types of Words
N - sequence number prefix
G - preparatory words
Example: G00 = PTP rapid traverse move X, Y, Z - prefixes for x, y, and zaxes
F - feed rate prefix S - spindle speed T - tool selection
M - miscellaneous command
Example: M07 = turn cutting fluid on

Example: Word Address Format

N001 G00 X07000 Y03000 M03
N002 Y06000

Computer-Assisted Part Programming

Manual part programming is time-consuming, tedious, and subject to
human errors for complex jobs
Machining instructions are written in English-like statements that are
translated by the computer into the low-level machine code of the MCU
APT (Automatically Programmed Tool)
The various tasks in computer-assisted part programming are divided
The human part programmer
The computer

Sequence of activities in computer-assisted part programming

Part Programmer's Job

Two main tasks of the programmer:
1. Define the part geometry
2. Specify the tool path

Cutter Offset
Cutter path must be offset
from actual part outline by a
distance equal to the cutter

NC Part Programming Using CAD/CAM

Is a computer interactive graphics system equipped with software to accomplish
certain tasks in design and manufacturing and to integrate the design and
manufacturing functions
Geometry definition
If the CAD/CAM system was used to define the original part
geometry, no need to recreate that geometry as in APT
Automatic labeling of geometry elements
If the CAD part data are not available, geometry must be created, as
in APT, but user gets immediate visual feedback about the created

Tool Path Generation Using CAD/CAM

Basic approach: enter the commands one by one (similar to APT)
CAD/CAM system provides immediate graphical verification of the
Automatic software modules for common machining cycles
Profile milling
Pocket milling
Drilling bolt circles

Examples of Machining Cycles in Automated NC Programming Modules

Pocket milling

Contour turning

Facing and shoulder facing

Threading (external)

Manual Data Input

Machine operator does part programming at machine

Operator enters program by responding to prompts and questions
by system
Monitor with graphics verifies tool path
Usually for relatively simple parts
Ideal for small shop that cannot afford a part programming staff
To minimize changeover time, system should allow programming of next
job while current job is running

1. Type three of the NC advantages?

Simpler fixtures
Shorter lead times
Reduce parts inventory

2. What are the Basic Components of an NC System?

Program of instructions
Machine control unit
Processing equipment

3. What are The NC programming methods?

Manual part programming
Computer-assisted part programming
Part programming using CAD/CAM
Manual data input

4. What is the Computer Numerical Control (CNC)?

Is defined as an NC system whose MCU is based on a dedicated
microcomputer rather than on a hard-wired controller