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Design & Manufacturing
Laboratory for Industrial Automation and Flexible Manufacturing
A. C. Okafor
This 400 square foot laboratory is located on the first floor, room 128 of Mechanical Engineering Building, adjacent to the department machine shop and has a temperature controlled environment to aid in maintaining the precision of the machines and equipment located there. The laboratory is home to three sub-laboratories: Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Laboratory, Virtual Manufacturing (VM) Laboratory, and Machine Tool Metrology Laboratory. The laboratory supports instruction, research, and production-environment-type manufacturing projects. It is used to give students hands-on experience in manual and computer assisted computer numerical control part programming, CAD/CAM integration, actual machining of metallic and composite materials, as well as conducting fundamental research into machine tool dynamics, tool wear mechanisms and indicating variables, methodology for tool wear and breakage detection for unmanned machining, machine tool accuracy characterization and error compensation, intelligent machining monitoring and diagnosis, virtual manufacturing, neural network modeling and sensor fusion, reverse engineering, and on-machine inspection and acceptance. This laboratory is home to several state-of-the-art industrial size machine tools. It also has the facilities for acoustic emission testing, signal processing, and artificial neural network. The facilities include:
A Cincinnati Milacron Sabre 750 Vertical Machining Center With Acramatic 2100 CNC open architecture controller.
A Bridgeport Series I, CNC milling machine with 2 1/2 controllable axes.
An Okuma LB15CNC Lathe with interactive graphic programming.
A Brown & Sharpe Micro-Val Coordinate Measuring Machine.
A Perthen surface texture measuring and recording instrument, model G5D, No. 6250203
Mititoyo Toolmaker's Microscope.
A Renishaw Laser Interferometer System for machine tool calibration and accuracy assessment.
A Renishaw Telescopic Ballbar for machine tool calibration and accuracy assessment.
5 Pentium personal computers with windows 95, all loaded with CAD/CAM software, and configured for data acquisition and communication with the CNC machines.
2 Pentium personal computers with windows NT, all loaded with CAD/CAM software, and configured for data acquisition and communication with the CNC machines.
A Kistler, 4 - Component piezoelectric force dynamometer, type 9272, with 3 component charge amplifier, type 5010.
A Kistler, 3 - Component piezoelectric force dynamometer, type 9257A, with 3 component charge amplifier, type 5004.
A Tektronix 4 - Channel Digital Oscilloscope
Norland IQ400 2 - Channel data acquisition and analysis instruments with built-in digital filters.
Norland Prowler 2 - Channel data acquisition and analysis instruments, with built-in digital filter. A Norland model N1024 dual disk drive is also available for data storage and transfer.
A universal filter, type 1952, can be set as a low pass, high pass, or band pass filter.
An acoustic emission sensing system consisting of: Digital Wave F4000 Fracture Wave Detector and Software, Digital Wave B1000 Broadband AE Sensors and Broadband Amplifiers, B&K AE sensors, preamplifiers, conditioning amplifiers and pulse rate analyzer.
Software: The laboratory is fully equipped with different kinds of modeling and Manufacturing software. DENEB VNC is one of the latest and advanced design and manufacturing software in the laboratory used for virtual modeling and simulation of the CNC machines. PRO-E, UNIGRAPHICS, AUTOCAD, VERICUT, VIRTUAL GIBBS, EZ-CAM, are other software that are available for CAD/CAM, post processing, and simulation. The laboratory is equipped with Gateway 2000 Pentium PC's and is interlinked with the machine tools available in the laboratory for controlling the operations of the machine tools. A program for transferring CNC codes from PC to and from the Bridgeport CNC milling machine, Okuma CNC lathe, and Cincinnati Milacron vertical machining center has been developed. Data analysis packages include the powerful STATISTICA that includes Basic Statistics and Design of Experiments Modules.
Computer Numerical Control Laboratory: This laboratory supports research and instruction in Computer Numerical Control of machine tools as well as fundamental research into intelligent machining, machine tool dynamics, tool wear mechanisms and indicating variables. It is used to conduct labs for the following two course: ME353 Computer Numerical Control of Manufacturing Processes, and ME453 Advanced Computer Numerical Control and Engineering Metrology. It is also used to conduct labs for the manufacturing component of the interdisciplinary course: ME350 Integrated Product Development.
Machine Tool Metrology Laboratory: This laboratory supports research and instruction in machine tool accuracy characterization and error compensation using laser interferometer and telescopic ballbar, reverse engineering, and on-machine inspection and acceptance. One of the new focus research areas in this laboratory is the use of CNC machines for On-machine inspection and acceptance. The fundamental idea behind this research is to avoid the resulting scrap after machining, and cutting down on the lead-time due to off-line inspection by eliminating the need for it. The Cincinnati Milacron® Sabre 750 Vertical Machining Center (VMC) with Acramatic® 2100E CNC Control is the machine on which this research is being conducted. Renishaw® probing system is used for this purpose.
Virtual Manufacturing Laboratory: This laboratory supports research in the area of Virtual Manufacturing. Virtual Manufacturing (VM) is a Virtual Reality based engineering application that provides a modeling and simulation environment to model and simulate an actual manufacturing system through effective use of computers. VM is the technology that carries out each and every aspect of manufacturing process on the computer and is a broad concept that includes FMS and CIM. Virtual Manufacturing includes a graphical user interface for selection and input of all necessary variables, parameters and process control information; process models to simulate changes in materials as they are shaped into products; and graphical multimedia procedures for indicating the results.
Virtual Computer Numerical Control (VCNC) Machine Tools currently being developed involve the use of computer to develop interactive 3-D simulation environment especially for modeling, visualizing and analyzing the functionality of the machine tool, its CNC controller and the material removal process. The user may see on screen in real-time, the effects of changing inputs to the machine tools. Basic CNC programs can be simulated for virtual manufacturing using a computer emulation of CNC control panel used in industry, the developed virtual machine tools and virtual work pieces. It is of great benefit to know, prior to cutting, such things as any abnormal behaviors that may arise during cutting or the errors of machined surface etc.
VCNC starts from the concept that one can experience pseudo - real machining before real cutting with a CNC machine. Research and development of the VCNC will provide the fundamental technologies for Virtual Manufacturing System (VMS). In order to realize VMS, one should be able to simulate the entire manufacturing process on the computer through modeling the available information (design, process planning, control, estimation and etc.). Of all the elements comprising VMS, VCNC is the most important from the technical standpoint. Research and development of a VCNC is thus crucial to establish the fundamentals for VMS.
From the users' viewpoint, a VCNC provides optimal machining parameters considering machinability, stability, metal removal rate, etc., as well as the estimated information of the machined surface. In the machine tool makers' viewpoint, performance of a machine tool under development can be tested on the design stage through modeling and simulation, which makes the development flexible and less expensive.
With such a laboratory a person can model and view the simulation of CNC machine tools and the cutting processes. This can establish an effective communication between the operator and the machine tool. The material removal process can be viewed in advance before the actual machining is done. Thus errors in the cutting process, too collisions, tool crashes etc. can be avoided. Optimization of the cutting processes can be achieved from the feedback of the virtual simulation.
Three state-of-the-arts machine tools in the VM laboratory, namely Bridgeport CNC Milling Machine, Cincinnati Milacron Machining Center with Open Architecture Controller, and Okuma LB15 CNC Lathe have been virtually modeled and simulated in the Virtual Manufacturing Laboratory. The user can key-in CNC programs and verify the cutter path in advance, before real machining and thus avoiding all kinds of errors and crashes. These virtually modeled machines will be used for training and instruction purpose, and web learning.
The future goal is giving access to these virtually built CNC machines in the laboratory to the world through the Worldwide Web (Internet) where a user can get connected to the laboratory server and key in his CNC programs for verification of the cutter path, and for self- paced Web learning.