End-to-end digital manufacturing

Within the scope of a training partnership with Siemens, the Environmental
Campus Birkenfeld is educating future engineers in manufacturing with machine
tools – both in theory and in practice.

At a glance

NC programmers with workshop shopfloor experience know the problem well: Many components are designed in a CAD system without considering the specifications or limitations of production machinery. This results in quality defects, higher costs, and time-consuming reworking. Prospective engineers at Trier University of Applied Sciences in Germany are taught the limits of what is feasible and learn to make allowance for these limits in the design process. They have to actually manufacture their designs in collaboration with experienced shopfloor managers and technicians. To facilitate this, the university provides them with top-quality production facilities, from a 3D printer to a complete machining center.

Another feature of almost all German facilities for vocational training of industrial mechanics/cutting machine operators and CNC specialists is that training and examinations are carried out in the manufacturer-neutral PAL format, as an introduction to NC programming. The problem is that there are no CAD/CAM solutions or machines that work with this format in real life. However, the team at Bengcon has developed a solution to this: in collaboration with machine builder Optimum and global technical training specialist Christiani, they have put together a complete package and developed a manufacturer-neutral PAL editor for Siemens NX.

Certificate for successfully completing CNC training

The students can learn NC programming thanks to
a training partnership that Dean Dr. Ing. Peter Gutheil
arranged with Siemens. His students have Sinutrain licenses that allow them to illustrate the Sinumerik CNC
840D sl user interface on their PCs.

Instructor Stefan Hirsch explains just how well this works: “The visual structure of Sinutrain on the PC is virtually identical to how it looks on the control terminal. The only difference is that commands are triggered using a mouse and keyboard rather than the soft-touch push buttons of the control panel.” The students receive a certificate for their successful completion of CNC training from Hirsch and shopfloor manager Christian Seibert. To prepare themselves to teach, both completed the “train the trainer” sessions at Siemens’ Technical User Center in Erlangen, Germany.

Learning shopfloor programming on a PC

Students are introduced to programming with programGuide – a classic G-code language. Hirsch explains: “My students have to learn how an NC works and how it passes on commands to the machine tool. Once they’ve learned that, I can show them how to make their work easier with the ShopTurn and ShopMill graphical step sequence programming. The young men and women are delighted every time we get to the right NC program twice or three times as fast.”

The programs are checked in a Sinutrain simulation, and the students have to iron out any errors. If the program runs smoothly in the virtual environment, it can be input into the real machine center – step by step.

A consistent, end-to-end digital manufacturing process

The students also learn how to develop complex assemblies on CAD/CAM systems. In order to offer them sufficient capacity during examination periods, the Environmental Campus provides a total of 507 “floating” licenses for the high-end Siemens NX CAD/CAM system. This pays off for internships as well, as Gutheil explains: “For one thing, the spread of NX is enormous. Numerous partner companies where our students do practical semesters or write their bachelor’s thesis work with it, and are delighted that we teach CAD/CAM on the same system.”

Virtual depiction of the machining center

One of Siemens NX’s major strengths is its unique production simulation. Machining is depicted realistically on the screen thanks to the integrated virtual NC kernel (VNCK). This rapid simulation teaches the engineers to calculate the manufacturing time in order to make calculating costs and drafting quotes easier for employers at a later date. One prerequisite is that the machining center used on the shopfloor is stored as a virtual machine in the CAM system. This means that the simulation and actual manufacturing sequence are virtually identical, and the machine space and user terminal for the respective machine are realistically depicted. Created programs can be transferred to the actual machine, which can be equipped with tools and blanks – input becomes superfluous.

Many manufacturers provide virtual machine images for Siemens NX. If one is not available, it can be generated in Siemens NX. Student Frederick Thull from the Environmental Campus Birkenfeld did just that as part of an outstanding bachelor’s thesis on the Spinner TC 600 (with Sinumerik 840D sl) turning center on the shopfloor. This virtual map of the modern turning machine is now available to all students for three-dimensional 1:1 simulation of their component programs.

09/11/2018 | Author: Alois Penzkofer