Open source CNC control with CAM and digital twin integration

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Williams, Kyle
Kurfess, Thomas R.
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High bandwidth internet connectivity and ubiquitous computation are poised to enable automated quality assurance, high efficiency predictive maintenance and an integrated logistic support infrastructure for modern manufacturing. Information technology is in the process of revolutionizing production, as it has revolutionized so many other industries. However, old and new CNC systems alike are unable to fully claim this advantage. Milling machines are a significant capital investment; it is impractical to regularly replace them; aging systems continue to see use, but are increasingly unable to meet modern demands. These demands include tighter machining tolerances, three and five axis automation, and internet connectivity. On the other hand, modern machines evolved in a niche market with a high price for entry; these systems meet performance demands, but employ obfuscated, proprietary hardware/software systems that stifle free market innovation and offer limited bandwidth communication interfaces. They are often prohibitively expensive as well. In this body of work, an aging CNC mill is upgraded with a modern electrical power system and an open source firmware/software architecture for control and communication. A digital twin of the machine tool is developed directly in the CAM environment, where toolpaths are generated. Leveraging this open platform, the CAM software is connected directly to the machine tool over the internet, enabling remote monitoring and control. This report presents the engineering behind the system, in the broader context of the need for open source control and the demands on modern machine tools. The system is vetted out on a 1986 Mori Seiki vertical milling station and experimentally verified.
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