In manufacturing, the accuracy of every cut depends on using the correct tool and entering the proper data for it. Human intervention adds uncertainty to machining processes with every manual entry of setup information. That uncertainty disappears, however, when software enables digital twins to enter the picture through direct CAM system integration, enabling shops to program parts offline with access to all the details of real-time machine setups and optimization.
The concept of digital twins already monitors and predicts a wide variety of industrial processes and jet engine functions. Now the technology can recreate machine tool conditions, workpiece setups and more, connecting a CNC directly with a CAM system to see a machine in great detail, with real-time communication back and forth between equipment and software. This breakthrough means the CAM system now knows machine parameters, fixture data, tool and workpiece information: all the details of equipment behavior and everything necessary for successful setup.
Without direct integration, CAM systems only know machine tools by their overall design and specifications, with no ability to see inside a specific machine and understand its current condition. Even when artificial intelligence (AI) can fill in the details of a machine model, the CAM system still lacks the ability to peek inside the machine envelope, much less to assist operators with tooling and fixturing.
To unify these two parts of the programming and operations picture, Mazak's SmoothAi CNC – the industry's first CNC designed specifically for 5-axis machining and Multi-Tasking – uses MAZATROL Twins to synch up machine and CAM software on an offline computer. Now manufacturers can factor in tool magazine contents and usage, machining time, cutting load and axes, along with 3D models of the actual workpiece, its tooling and fixturing. The results of the process transfer accurately and directly to a real machine, making each job predictable as well as programmable.
Without the bidirectional communication and in-depth data access of MAZATROL Twins, even the most advanced machines and fully featured CAM systems leave room for error and uncertainty. Each time a human being enters the process to input data, make assumptions and base decisions on those assumptions, the quality of the machining result may suffer if that manual data entry includes an error.
Rather than insert the complexity of a CAM system into a machine tool's CNC, MAZATROL Twins take the opposite approach, and make the CNC visible to an external computer that can model the machine realistically and accurately based on real-time bidirectional communication. With the optional SMOOTH CAM Ai package, a Mazak machine tool equipped with a SmoothAi CNC can prepare actual cutting programs remotely.
The functionality built into MAZATROL Twins draws heavily on Mazak's partnerships with leading CAD/CAM software companies, including Autodesk, ESPRIT and hyperMILL. With a qualifying CAM system, shops can build offline programs that leverage every aspect of machine setup, condition, behavior and current data load to create ready-to-run scenarios that produce predictable results.
Thanks to the merger of hardware and software, MAZATROL Twins enable shops to start a part without wondering whether they have optimized all aspects of the process. This revolution in part processing scraps uncertainty rather than parts.