ADVANCED MANUFACTURING NOW Modern Manufacturing Processes, Solutions & Strategies

Chuck Mathews

Managing Director & Cloud Evangelist MachiningCloud, Inc.

There’s a way to digitize cutting tool data. But is there a will?


t’s 2016, so it shouldn’t be true that CAD/CAM programmers and tooling engineers manually search

through many disparate sources to find their cutting tools. But that is the case. It also shouldn’t be true today that

CAD/CAM programmers and tooling engineers spend even more time obtain- ing the product data needed for their CNC machines and CAD/CAM software. But that is the gospel truth. Calling sales representatives and

sifting through catalogs and websites to pick tooling and configure tool assem- blies is inefficient, to say the least. This tradition is dying hard. But it must go if we want to remain globally competitive. Productivity and the chain of pro-

duction at every level in important end markets like aerospace, automotive and medical devices are negatively impacted by the old slog of finding, se- lecting, and assembling cutting tools. One answer is the Generic Tool

Catalog (GTC) format, which helps link cutting tool information with ap- plications that support data-driven manufacturing. Cutting tool manufac- turers worked together to create it. GTC complements ISO 13399, which

was created to standardize the cutting tool data representation and exchange. GTC goes a step further by classify- ing the data in a logical hierarchy and adding additional data that CAD/CAM programmers need, such as graphical icons, pictures and 3D models. MachiningCloud is a vendor-

neutral application made possible through the GTC standard. CAD/CAM programmers use the app to find, select and assemble tools.

38 The multi-brand app takes the

guesswork out of tool selection so programmers can quickly make smarter tooling decisions. To date, end users have built over a half million tool assemblies for over 100,000 dif- ferent jobs. They report time savings of 25–75% compared with traditional methods of paper catalogs, manufac- turers’ websites and telephone calls.

As brands digitize their tooling cat- alogs and software integrations are de- veloped using the ISO/GTC standards, neutral platforms like MachiningCloud become indispensable to end-users and the entire industry benefits. Certainly, any manufacturer plan-

ning to hire in the future understands the need to digitize data. Can you imagine what anyone coming out of

A digital marketplace for cutting tools is possible with the GTC standard, but many cutting tool manufacturers still need to get on board.

People who have used Machin- ingCloud say they can easily find the right cutting tools, quickly create cut- ting tool assemblies, improve cutting tools job management and reporting, and simplify the CNC cutting tool workflow with direct access to prod- uct data and speeds and feeds. CAD/CAM programmers want

direct access to tooling data, but they aren’t always heard. Digital tool catalog availability is a major concern because cutting tool manufacturers aren’t all com- pletely on board. A digital market- place for cutting tools is possible with the GTC standard, but an appli- cation’s usefulness requires cutting tool manufacturers’ participation. Manufacturers must come together

to make their product data consistent and available on a small number of complementary platforms—connected to the CAD/CAM software each par- ticular shop chooses to use. These solutions move the whole manufacturing industry forward.

college today would think about a sys- tem stuck in the 1980s? And it should be an easy sell for current employees who want to remain marketable. Even for those who are nearing retirement, digitizing data is a way for them to record their knowledge and leave it for the next generation to absorb. The vendor-neutral industry

standard GTC is there to enable interoperability between different hardware components and software applications. Its success hinges upon supplier adoption. To help cutting tool brands transi- tion, MachiningCloud provides a service that converts cutting tool brands’ data into ISO/GTC and provides connectivity with shop software through the cloud. This way, a cutting tool manufacturer does not have to wait for a full ISO con- version to step into Industry 4.0. While many brands are talking about

developing digital catalogs, very few have their digital catalogs readily avail- able for their customers. Look for that to happen in the next 12–24 months.

Summer 2016

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