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An Industry In High Demand

An Industry in High Demand

Tom Nathan of ANCA explains how demand for carbon fibre reinforced plastics (CFRP) growing at 9.3 percent per year leads to huge potential for cutting tool manufacturers. 

Using strengthening fibres embedded in a supporting material has been around since the dawn of time. From mud brick houses reinforced with straw to the first composite bows made with wood, bone and pine resin, it was recognised that composites deliver superior compressive and tensile properties. 

The transportation, low-carbon energy generation, aerospace, defence, civil construction and sporting goods industries have all adopted composites for their high-performance and low weight applications—and the demand continues to grow year-on-year. A report by Credence Research in 2019 estimates a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 9.3% for Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastics (CFRP) during the period 2017-2025. Growth in the poly-crystalline diamond (PCD) tool market has been double that of standard carbide cutting tools over recent years, making it an outstanding opportunity for tool manufacturers looking to be active at the leading edge of cutting tool technology. 

Tom Nathan, product manager at ANCA, has witnessed the huge increase in inquiries in this area – reflecting a growing demand by tool manufacturers to produce cutting tools to service this market. “Commercial applications for composite materials continues to grow year-on-year with the market space for cutting tools also expanding. With superior strength to weight ratios, CFRP is being used in a wide variety of low weight structural applications from planes, cars, turbines and even drones,” he says.

Cutting tool manufacturers are creating and adopting a variety of cutting tool designs and technologies—developing new tooling for the wide variety of composites used today. ANCA has been working closely with its customers to design innovative solutions that help address these needs, creating new tool geometries and machine technologies that can erode and grind market-leading CFRP solutions.

Understanding the Composite Market

Industries today use a variety of composite-matrix materials (epoxies, phenolics, polyimides) and fibres (carbon, Kevlar, glass) to suit varying applications with very different material properties. In metal cutting, the creation and evacuation of chips serve to remove heat from the point of cutting. In a polymer matrix composite, the matrix tends to be soft but very tough. When analysed at the micro level, machining of polymer matrices does not form chips, but rather a fine ‘dust’ that results from localised micro-fracturing. This matrix dust does not readily dissipate heat from the cutting edge as the matrix material generally has a very low thermal conductivity. 

Nathan states that this creates significant problems when using ferrous (iron) based cutting tools for machining composites. “The increased heat leads to localised thermal expansion and lower yield strength which varies the tool geometry, ultimately leading to premature wear,” he says.

The next challenge comes from the embedded fibres. These fibres are strong, stiff and highly abrasive when machined. Different composite materials utilise different fibre orientation methods to aid the mechanical properties sought. Fibre forms can be unidirectional, fabric weaves, braided or even chopped which makes the composite materials behave very differently when being machined.

To complicate matters more, Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastics (CFRP) can be layered with backing materials comprised of aluminium or titanium to aid strength and rigidity. Alone, these substrates require their own types of tooling geometries, however, varying layers of these materials with matrix composites materials demands tool geometries that can cater for a wide variety of machining operations with dramatically different cutting properties. 

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ANCA’s Third Tool Of The Year Competition Celebrates Modern Cutting Tools That Shape Our World

ANCA’s Third Tool Of The Year Competition Celebrates Modern Cutting Tools That Shape Our World

With 28 entries, 1.2 million social impressions and almost 4500 votes, ANCA’s Tool of the Year celebrates the contribution modern cutting tools make to manufacturing, surgery, woodworking and other diverse industries. The competition shines a light on and celebrate these tools that shape our world.

Pat Boland, ANCA Co-Founder said: “The cutting tool sector has faced a significant challenge with the onset of COVID-19. In these conditions it is even more important to promote and recognise our contributions as an industry. This year we saw the most complex and sophisticated entries to date. Having been part of the industry for over 40 years, the technical advancements demonstrated by cutting tool manufacturers continue to amaze.”

“I think of ANCA’s Tool of the Year as the Oscars for cutting tools and am proud to take the time to recognise and reward the creativity and skill of manufacturers globally,” Pat continued.

Winner of ANCA Tool of the Year – ARCH Cutting Tools

The overall winner, ARCH’s entry demonstrated excellent use of multiple iGrind operations with several complex profiles. The tool came out in front of others when compared to the DXF and measured on the Zoller for Profile OD and Runout. The surface finish measurement on the Alicona produced a superb result. The tool also stood out in terms of complexity of grinding and was a large diameter (1”) multi-functional cutting tool with many features. Overall the tool was complete – ticking every box to be the Tool of the Year winner and was an exceptional effort from the team at ARCH.

“We entered to present and showcase our capabilities as a cutting tool manufacturer and to demonstrate the complex capabilities of the ANCA Tool and Cutter Grinder,” said Jim Gray, President and General Manager, ARCH Cutting Tools – Latrobe.

Winners of Virtual Tool Category – JG Group and Turcar

“Both tools showed a high level of effort, artistry and creativity. When creating the Virtual Tools, both Turcar and JG Group used their imagination along with the power and flexibility of ToolRoom RN34 and CIM3D V9 to produce works of art,” Pat concluded.

Grzegorz Reszka CEO, JG Group said: “Achieving the Winner status, among the world class tool grinding companies makes us more marketable and gives us exposure on new global markets. It was an amazing opportunity to present our capabilities to the wider audience, worldwide and evidence of what JG Group Experts can provide for our customers. Congratulations to all Participants and the Winners!”

Tarık Öztürk, Chief Technology Officer at Turcar said: “This year we wanted to come up with something different and that is why we named our entry Katana, meaning the best work of the world – a value we brought to this competition.”

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A Remedy To Uncertain Times

A Remedy To Uncertain Times

Medical manufacturing company Straits Orthopaedic delivers on diverse medical applications with their flexible ANCA CNC grinding machines. Article by Duncan Thompson, ANCA.

If manufacturers have learned anything over the recent months, it is that you can take nothing for granted. Circumstances can change quickly and how you are set up to respond can be the difference between your business flourishing or folding. Recognising this, Straits Orthopaedic has been investing in ANCA machines as part of their strategy to be a flexible manufacturer in the medical tooling and component market. 

The events of COVID-19 this year are perhaps the most extreme example of rapid market change and resulting uncertainty. But, even after more normal circumstances return, manufacturers need to be constantly vigilant, watching and responding to changes in the market that provide new opportunities or necessitate a pivot in their business. 

ANCA CNC grinding machines have long been recognised in the industry for their flexibility. It is this kind of flexibility that allows ANCA users to produce parts for diverse applications, so they are not limited to just one customer or one application. Powerful software allows users to create programs for a broad range of cutting tools and components. While modular machine design means features can be easily configured to suit the varying needs of different applications. 

The medical industry offers exceptional and diverse opportunities for manufacturers, with ANCA grinding machines supporting international markets in the production of complex bone rasps, long rotary reamers and tiny dental drills and burrs, just to name a few. 

Straits Orthopaedics, based out of Malaysia, is a case-in-point of a company taking advantage of ANCA’s diverse capabilities. Already well established for contract manufacture of medical components, Straits Orthopaedics’ first tool grinder was an ANCA FX5.

Senior Process Development Engineer Vidyadhiraj Vidyadharan comments, “Custom made tools have become a significant part of our growth in the medical tool market. We need the ability to make special tools to varying customer requirements and to be able to do it quickly. ANCA’s FX5 with its flexible tool programming software has certainly allowed us to meet this need. Demand for our diverse range of medical drills, reamers and planers easily justified our second FX5.”

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ANCA Updates Toolroom For Barrel Shape Ballnose Endmills

ANCA Updates Toolroom For Barrel Shape Ballnose Endmills

Discover new possibilities in machining with the Barrel Shape Ballnose (BSB) tooltype in ANCA’s up-to-the-minute ToolRoom software. The latest enhancement also includes revamped Double Corner Radius (DCR) Endmills. These endmills constitute a new tool class for machining excellence. Barrel and lens shapes and taper and oval forms are relative market new-comers and are predominantly used in the die mould, aerospace, general machining and power generation industries.

ANCA Software Product Manager, Thomson Mathew said: “The ability to create endmills with a larger-radius edge, permits greater stepover increments. This enables machining with a larger cross over pitch during pre-finishing and finishing operations – improving productivity.”

Shorter cutting distances mean it’s almost like a two for one coupon for longer tool life and faster cycle times.

Thomson adds: “Replacing conventional ballnose and corner radius applications with the large tangential form radius simulates these applications but the outsized cutting diameter is what saves cycle time and cost; and the resulting surface finish is better as well.”

“Bringing these new endmills together with the expert advantages of ToolRoom such as iView and laser compensation, designer edge ballnose, variable helix and tool balancing sets tool manufacturers up with a complete solution and is unique to ANCA software. In addition, a special fluting operation ensures a constant hook angle all the way along the trajectory of the cutting edge resulting in vibration-free tools, with less wear and tear during machining.”

The upgrade offers wizard based design for user-friendly operation

Manufacturing complex, sophisticated endmills is made easy with wizard based BSB design in ToolRoom, suitable also for catalogue production.

BSB and DCR tool types are high performance endmill cutters, mainly used for finishing requiring high accuracies. They may be more familiar to some as circular segment or high feed endmills. In the current market, cutting tool manufacturers may be looking to enter new markets and this software release makes diversification with high-quality specialist tools attainable.

This sought-after enhancement retains ANCA’s renowned software user-friendliness and completes the ToolRoom RN34 endmill package.

The features of the new market release encompass compensation and accuracy

Compensation methods are covered as ANCA supports manual, iView and LaserPlus compensation for all geometry, as these tools are highly accurate. Both ball radius and tangential barrel form radius can be maintained within +/-0.002 mm using LaserPlus. This accuracy can also be maintained in batch grinding with automatic in-process compensation for large volume production on machines with LaserPlus.

The wizard based design also provides the option to scale tools and add various other operations like roughing or chip breakers. Wizard support is available for oval form, taper form and also a custom form for specials. A static view gives parameter inputs for geometry description and there is also a dynamic view available to visualise the geometry as and when parameters are entered.

There are multiple practical advantages of ToolRoom software for cutting tool manufactures

  • iView and laser compensation for large volume manufacturing
  • Designer edge ballnose for aggressive cutting
  • Variable helix/index with radial margin option for fluting cycles.
  • Tool balancing for variable helix/index tools for chatter free cutting
  • Constant hook along cutting edge trajectory (special flute from solid)
  • Very user-friendly GUI with static and dynamic view specially for catalogue tools

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ANCA ToolDraft –The Ultimate Drafting Package For Cutting Tools

ANCA ToolDraft –The Ultimate Drafting Package For Cutting Tools

Like all manufactured parts, cutting tools require technical drawings to make a design a reality. Best practice for cutting tool manufacturers emphasises the importance of a tool drawing that is detailed, clear and precise. Tool drawings are essential for many reasons – besides serving as a reference for operators to produce tools accurately and consistently, they also provide a record of the tool and enable revision control. Drawings are also predominantly used when recommending designs to customers for quoting purposes.

ANCA CNC Machines considered all the above when creating ToolDraft, which has allowed cutting tool manufacturers to achieve outstanding results. As a dedicated software package for producing 2D cutting tool drawings, ToolDraft helps users to reduce hours of workflow into a few clicks. Once a tool is created using ToolRoom (version 2016 or later) or CIM3D (version 8.1 or later), it can be sent to ToolDraft in a matter of seconds, with a click of the icon. Cutting tool manufacturers who have a backlog of tools not yet drawn will benefit greatly from ToolDraft and its ability to produce detailed 2D cutting tool drawings in minutes rather than hours.

Simon Richardson, ANCA Product Manager, said, “ToolDraft is quick, easy to use and saves time as it allows complex geometries that are difficult to draw to be simply created and dimensioned. As the software is specifically designed for cutting tools, it offers features that 2D CAD software may not have. Time saved using ToolDraft will provide a quick return on investment for any company looking to find efficiency in their production.”

ToolDraft follows Geometric Dimension and Tolerancing (GD&T) and ISO standards. Included in the software is a library of drafting symbols, feature control frames and annotations for GD&T purposes. Dimensions can be applied to a range of various tool views and customised, if required. Leader lines with text can be placed on to a drawing to describe unique features and information. In cases when a small section of geometry needs to be highlighted, multiple detailed tool section views can be added to the drawing. ToolDraft also has the capability to add cross section views chosen by the user anywhere along the axial position of the tool.

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ANCA Launches CIM3D V9 With Time-Saving And User-Friendly Enhancements

ANCA Launches CIM3D V9 With Time-Saving And User-Friendly Enhancements

ANCA’s new CIM3D V9 release of the industry-leading CIMulator3D software has an upgraded interface with fresh colours and icons and is even easier to use with intuitive functionality. The latest technology and software design has been packed into this release offering time-saving benefits and interactive visualisation across the entire grinding process.

Thomson Mathew, ANCA Software Product Manager says: “This upgrade responds directly to what our customers want and need for effective tool simulation. CIM3D V9 allows for customisation based on regularly-used features no matter which industry. The simulation quality of ANCA’s software is unmatched and you can simulate complete grinding sequences.”

“The offline capabilities of using the latest CIM3D version mean important background calculations are easily verified, increasing machine productivity. This not only maximises machine time but for those working from home, CIM3D can be run independently on any computer – so it is possible to do all the programming remotely.”

“We have automated many manual steps and introduced process verification and analysis in a central hub to get improved cycle time, and better wheel and tool life. Collisions can be detected automatically and overall CIM3D V9 is more enjoyable and easier to use.”

The new software offers clearer visualisation with the customisable timeline panel – effectively a central dashboard for quicker and easier tool analysis. New tool programs can be verified for size, shape, machine clearance, cycle time estimates, and more.

ANCA’s software experts are in-house ensuring the features of CIM3D are responsive, user-friendly and tailored to the cutting tool industry.

Feature include:

  • Updated look and feel
  • Progressive material removal
  • Clear visualisation with the timeline panel
  • Tool balance analysis
  • Save time with background calculations
  • Visualisation of material removal rate
  • Improved measurement capabilities
  • Changes to the sectioning plane dialogue


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ANCA Motion’s EtherCAT Pendant Offers Flexible Benefits With A User-Friendly And Intuitive Interface

ANCA Motion’s EtherCAT Pendant Offers Flexible Benefits With A User-Friendly And Intuitive Interface

Anca Motion: In factories, as with the world outside them, devices and machines are becoming simpler to use. A vital expectation nowadays is user-friendliness. The “user experience”-oriented smartphone era has seen industrial companies make their products and all their Human Machine Interfaces (HMIs) much more intuitive. The world is moving towards an era where robots can be taught on the fly by an assembly line worker rather than requiring hours of painstaking programming by the expert. Machine builders are designing their solutions and their HMIs so that these can be set up with minimum steps, and put to work by someone with minimal training.

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One reason to provide user-friendly machinery is the workforce demographic shift on the horizon. In the USA, for example, a quarter of manufacturing workers were 55 and older in 2017. A recent survey from the US’s National Association of Manufacturers found nearly a half of respondents were “very concerned” about the brain drain caused by the expertise ageing out of their companies.

With fewer expert machinists around, products need to be simple to use – as well as safe – in the hands of a non-expert as well as an expert operator.

READ: ANCA Discusses Trends Driving the Cutting Tool Industry

ANCA Motion’s AMI 5000 remote pendant is a machine control interface with years of development and proven effectiveness behind it. It offers support for the EtherCAT fieldbus – almost unheard of among pendant manufacturers, and a massive benefit in quick integration with compatible systems. Interfacing with any host control system software that supports EtherCAT Fieldbus, the pendant is designed to connect and integrate with a machine in a few simple steps. EtherCAT also means a reduction in cable size and weight, thus improving manoeuvrability and portability.

Customisable options build on a proven track record of innovation and customer support

The remote pendant comes in a wear- and drop-resistant composite case, ideal for tough industrial environments. The front cover is customisable to match an OEM’s branding needs.

The AMI 5000 remote pendant is available in custom cable lengths from two metres to ten metres standard or spiralled, allowing a worker the flexibility to move around their machine. Magnet and cradle mounting also offers maximum flexibility. With localised firmware updates and local status indicators, these devices are simply plug-and-play, avoiding complex integration procedures.

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Safety and control are increased through dual-channel Emergency Stop and optional Hold to Run button. The unit’s MPG (manual pulse generator) feed also offers precision control. This allows for precise movement along various axes – ideal for making small, incremental changes which provides great flexibility when testing new part programs.

The pendant uses an 18-pin circular connector, 24-Volt DC input, and communicates at 100 Mbps.

With thousands of existing units and support through ANCA’s global network of offices, any issue can be resolved as quickly as possible.

Written by ANCA Motion Automation Product Manager, Elan Anbanandam


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ANCA Discusses Trends Driving The Cutting Tool Industry

ANCA Discusses Trends Driving the Cutting Tool Industry

Pat Boland, co-founder of ANCA talks about electric vehicle manufacturing, their new motor temperature control technology, and his outlook for the year. Article by Stephen Las Marias.

Pat Boland

Founded in 1974, ANCA is one of the leading manufacturers of CNC grinding machines, motion controls, and sheet metal solutions. The company has manufacturing plants in Melbourne, Australia, and in Rayong, Thailand, as well as offices in the UK, Germany, China, India, Japan, Brazil, and the United States.

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Pat Boland is the co-founder and joint managing director of ANCA. In an interview with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News (APMEN), he talked about how their industry has changed over the past decades, trends driving the cutting tool industry, and the latest technologies in CNC machines.


Pat Boland (PB): It’s been an interesting 45 years that ANCA has been operating, starting with some very simple four-axis machines, up to complex multi-axis machines today.

One of the key enablers for our machines is software. ANCA has pioneered several aspects of  CNC tool, cutter and grinder technology, and in particular, key software features. We were the first company to integrate in-machine measurement using a probe—measuring the geometry of the cutting tool and adapting the program to regrind it.

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We were the first to introduce full 3D simulation, which generates an accurate 3D model of the tool to be produced. This revolutionised the operation of machines because previously, people had to grind the part, look at it, and then make adjustments. With the simulation, it is possible to completely do that offline and be very confident of what you are going to produce in the machine.

ANCA is known for its innovation. We have our own unique form of servo motors to drive all our machines. We call them tubular linear motors—the introduction of which increased our technological capabilities significantly.


PB: There are many changes in the sector, which have broad impacts in the wider industry. The pending move to EVs is one of those items. In some ways, the machine tool industry is going to be affected very significantly by the simplification of the drive train of the EV compared to internal combustion engine. That will impact us in terms of demand for cutting tools.

However, there are some aspects in EV manufacturing, such as a large number of very accurate, small gears required for the electric gear boxes where efficiency is absolutely critical. Among those are the internal gears. Traditional methods of manufacturing internal gears such as shaper cutters are relatively slow and have geometrical limitations. But an old concept, called skiving, is becoming very popular to manufacture these internal gears.

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However, the difficulty with skiving is that every gear design requires a special cutter design, and for Class A, AA cutters, the accuracy of the cutters is extraordinarily tight.

The GCX is based on our TX7, but we have undertaken several developments such as improving the accuracy and efficiency of the machine for manufacturing skiving cutters. With software, we have a complete solution for the design and simulation of the skiving cutters, and the actual simulation of the skiving process.

So, the cutter can be designed, and the actual grinding path for that design can be generated. On the machine, we have redesigned several elements to really step up the accuracy. There is a new headstock, a new dressing technology, and other technologies such as an acoustic emission monitoring system. We also have  motor temperature control or MTC (patent pending), which we developed for skiving gear tool grinding, where we actively measure and control the temperature of all the rotary motors in the machine—the dressing spindles, the grinding spindles, the axis turning the cutter.

I am proud of MTC – our constant temperature spindle control because from an engineering point of view, it is very simple, but it has a big impact on the performance of the machine. And it is something different, and to my knowledge, something unique. Just by changing the firmware and the drive system for the spindle, we were able to hold the temperature, and really have quite a significant impact on the actual stability and performance of the machine. I think it is a breakthrough.


PB: What we did is, when you run an electric motor, by changing the parameters, you can change the losses in the electric motor. And by changing the losses in the motor, we can regulate the temperature. You set a set point, say 27 deg C: if the temperature is 26 deg C, the machine will deliberately increase the losses in the motor to heat it up until it gets to 27 deg C. Then, if the temperature is over, the machine can reduce the losses to regulate that temperature.

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As far as I know, it is unique. The spindle is a key component. When you get a temperature rise, you will get dimensional variation in the position of the wheel, the grinding wheel, or the cutting tool. Maintaining a very accurate temperature improves the basic dimensional accuracy of the machine.


PB: Typically, you must warm up a machine by running it through a cycle to get to a working temperature. That takes around half an hour. With this technology, heating the spindle up can reduce that half an hour to maybe 10 minutes. That’s cost saving. And then of course, while you are grinding, you reduce the dimensional variation.

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This offers users improved accuracy and stability. We are talking about lights out manufacturing. Everything you can do to keep things stable in that lights out environment is a benefit. We are currently using it in some of our machines: the CPX and GCX Linear. When this technology goes through the rest of our machines, I think it will be highly popular with our customers in terms of improved dimensional stability.


PB: By nature, I am always a bit of a pessimist, and there is a lot happening in the world to cause worry. But the world changes so quickly. China is such a large and diversified industrial market that I think business is going to be tougher there, but nevertheless, it will still be very significant business. Meanwhile, I see ASEAN countries still have a lot of opportunities for growth.

Overall, I expect probably a continuation of the cyclical downturn—but I don’t know how long that cycle is actually going to last. However, we will continue to provide innovative solutions for our customers who may be looking to diversify in response to market trends.


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Five Ways To Enhance CNC Machine Manufacturing With The Cloud

Five Ways To Enhance CNC Machine Manufacturing With The Cloud

Considering shifting your manufacturing into the cloud? Read the practical steps from Naveen Nadesan, ANCA Motion Global Marketing Manager, to make the most of the move.

Connectivity with the world is now something we take for granted in our everyday lives. We no longer need to be in the office to check emails, receive calls or even access our files. We can be anywhere in the world and, thanks to the cloud and mobile technology, still be connected. It’s a world of digital transformation that now applies to CNC machines.

READ: Taking metal to the cloud

New cloud-based management software, along with the Internet of Things – that is the networking of machines that send and receive data – are helping us design, test and produce parts no matter where we are, or where our facilities are. Pooling of live data in t  he cloud means we can now optimise our processes in real time, even from the other side of the world.

Here are five ways the cloud will enhance CNC machines.

1. The cloud improves CNC machine productivity

“We need more of it and faster.” Ever heard that one? Cloud-based management of CNC machines can improve productivity through the removal of complex workflows, reduced costs for installation and manufacturing and the big one… automation.

Think also of the productivity gains that are possible when operation staff can access information and collaborate remotely as well as make updates in real-time from multiple locations.

Automation on machines also means you can reduce the cost of doing business as manufacturers can run part batches ‘lights out’. This means that no matter where in the world you can be competitive – even in traditionally higher cost labour regions.

READ: Outlook For Cloud Computing Market

2. The cloud offers greater visibility

Cloud-based management of your machines gives you the ability to monitor them and production in real time and make faster, informed decisions about your capabilities.

This greater visibility provides insight into your supply chain and usage patterns including production levels, inventory, available capacity, quality levels and order status – without delay. This in turn will help you manage customer expectations around delivery.

3. Less downtime for more business continuity

How much time did you lose last year to unplanned machine downtime? CNC machines that are connected to the cloud provide constant data about their health and productivity. Sharing this information across the business can help identify production problems, including root causes, and also help predict machine failures before they happen.

The cloud is also your secure, offsite data backup. If and when something goes wrong there’s no need to worry about when the last manual back up was done – it’s automatically taken care of.

READ: Microsoft Announces Cloud And IoT Updates For Manufacturing Industry

4. More solid security

There is often a concern that the cloud may not provide the same IP protection as on-site data management. The truth is that the cloud may be less risky than your existing setup. Moving to the cloud means your business can access the policies and controls of your cloud host, without paying for the cost of maintaining facilities and hardware.

According to the World Intellectual Property Association, most IP data breaches occur internally as a result of access and privilege abuse. The cloud allows you to create levels of security and encryption to better protect your IP from internal abuse.

A proper cloud management suite can provide data encryption, automated software updates, automated backup and data centre grade security without the cost of having a full-time IT department.

5. Improved CNC Machine quality

Quality and precision are everything when it comes to high end CNC machined parts. Even small variances in performance can cause manufacturing disruption and costly recalls.

Cloud technology is helping tool manufacturers more easily develop customer scripting and maintain a high level of accuracy, even on large batches.

It also helps enable virtual simulation of tooling and modelling which can reduce waste and speed up trials.

Cloud-connectivity is the next big step for CNC machines. By taking the leap your business can reap the time, security, cost and productivity rewards, not to mention increasing visibility over operations no matter where you are in the world.

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ANCA Motion’s Multi-Axis Servo System Conserves 96 Percent Of Energy Wastage

ANCA Motion’s Multi-Axis Servo System Conserves 96 Percent Of Energy Wastage

In a servo motor system, regenerative energy is the energy that returns to a drive when a motor decelerates, and the amount of regenerative energy depends on the deceleration speed and load inertia. In laser cutting machines, the regenerative energy is typically large owing to their fast acceleration/deceleration and heavy mechanical structures.

Energy returned to drives is absorbed by the capacitors on drive’s DC bus. A multi-axis servo drive system does have a big advantage when handling the regenerative energy; the shared DC bus allows more bus capacitance to absorb and store more energy which can be used in the following acceleration cycles.

However, when regenerative energy is too high to be absorbed by the capacitors on DC bus, the excessive energy needs to be managed otherwise it can cause servo drive system failures.

Normally the excess energy is burned off via brake resistors connecting to the drive’s DC bus. This dissipates (and effectively wastes the energy), creating heat in the process.

An alternative solution is to use capacitor modules in the system. This offers a way to slash operating costs, particularly in energy-intensive machine applications involving a lot of deceleration, such as laser cutting.

Both solutions are supported by ANCA Motion’s AMD5x multi-axis servo drive system. The system uses a bussed system architecture, and its power supply unit converts three-phase mains electricity to a DC supply to all bussed drives.

The AMD5x system is highly flexible and is suited to highly demanding CNC applications such as laser cutting. It is suitable for accommodating multiple capacitor modules as well as servo drives.

A frequently asked question about using capacitor modules is about its ROI (Return on Investment). The potential of capacitor modules to save machine operators’ energy costs was explored recently, indicating a surprisingly short payback period.

For the analysis, a laser cutting machine operating at full load in China, two shift-per-day scenario was created, assuming a 0.66 RMB per kilowatt hour electricity price and an Air Conditioner (used to cool the control cabinet) energy efficiency ratio of 3.

The performance of a machine with two capacitor modules in this scenario was compared to that of a machine with a brake resistor only.

The difference in wasted power was unsurprisingly stark. This stood at 4,500W of wastage for the system with no capacitor modules, compared to 180W with. This translated into wasted energy per month of over 2200 KWH (worth about 1,400 RMB) versus 90 KWH (about 60 RMB).

Operating costs – including the initial investment – drew level at around eight months, with these becoming significantly cheaper overall for the system using capacitor modules after that point.

With factories under unprecedented pressure to run to tighter margins and to get smarter with their power use, harnessing and reusing energy rather than burning it up and wasting it is an attractive proposition.   


Written by Heng Luo, ANCA Motion Product Manager


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