CNC Machine Tools News

A Smoother way to manage part programs

Mazak’s brand-new SmoothAi CNC uses high-tech data sharing to avoid entry errors and cut setup time. Imagine how much of an impact that level of precision could make on your workflow.

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Since the dawn of computer science more than two centuries ago, one thing has remained constant: Programming and data entry are tougher than they look. From the first computers’ punch cards to today’s programming languages, a single, minor error can mean the difference between a functional program and a crashed computer. And when a buggy program is run on a CNC machine tool, it likely won’t just be the computer that crashes.

In the decades since manufacturing entered the digital age, OEMs like Mazak continue to develop a comprehensive range of solutions to simplify programming, including MAZATROL conversational programming. Unfortunately, setting up a machine requires more than creating or uploading a part program – in many cases, tool data, coordinate data and machining parameters need to be entered separately, and every time an operator manually inputs data into a control, it increases the risk of human error. Even in the best case scenario, with an expert machinist flawlessly entering in the relevant data, it still adds minutes to setup time, eating into the profitability of the process.

With the introduction of the next-generation MAZATROL SmoothAi CNC and the MAZATROL TWINS suite of software solutions, Mazak has made it easier than ever to avoid issues created by data entry while simultaneously simplifying setup time. This is made possible by SMOOTH Project Manager and SMOOTH CAM Ai, parts of MAZATROL TWINS that allow for the easy sharing of data between machines and CAD/CAM software from a connected PC for a total data management solution.

This new data transmission technique, called the Mazak Open Format, bundles tool data, coordinate data and parameters together with programs for significant setup time reduction. In one example, Mazak found that loading programs, checking parameters, inputting tool data and inputting coordinate data can take as much as 30 minutes for even moderately complex parts. With SMOOTH Project Manager, the only required steps are selecting the project’s data and loading it into the machine, a simple process that takes less than five minutes to accomplish.

SMOOTH Project Manager also serves as a central hub for various project data. No matter which of the many commercially available CAD/CAM software packages a shop uses, SMOOTH Project Manager synchronizes all of the project data for greater ease of use. And with MAZATROL SmoothAi controls, the data synchronization extends beyond SMOOTH Project Manager; thanks to MAZATROL TWINS and the efforts of Mazak’s partners in the CAD/CAM industry, digital twins can now be used to confirm toolpaths and preview processes for complete process security.