Using Simulation to Improve the Efficiency of CAM and CNC Instruction
2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition Proceedings
The use of industry-type CNC machines, as opposed to "trainers", for learning NC operations in Engineering Technology programs, presents several challenges. Key amongst these is the potential for damage to the machine, tooling, work piece and injury to users from improper operation. To prevent these occurrences, significant effort must be expended on the part of instructors and lab personnel in vetting programming assignments completed by students, and in supervising set-up and operation of a
... chine. Faced with fewer resources and increasing class sizes, simulation techniques are becoming increasingly useful to help departments better manage their resources, and not just for the educational benefit of the student. This paper describes efforts to utilize simulation in several courses in a Manufacturing Engineering Technology program that heavily utilizes CNC technology. To do this, accurate digital models of CNC machines have been created using a CAD system, and converted into simulation models within an industry standard NC verification application. For each of the classes that utilize a CNC machine, the simulation model, along with tool and fixturing libraries, are available for students to use in verifying the programs they create for assignments and project work. Students are introduced to the simulation software at the start of an introductory course to CNC operations, through a single homework assignment. The effort in using models is minimal: Selecting tools from a library, adding and positioning stock geometry (and final part when a machining accuracy comparison is required) in a fixture (often a Kurt machinist's vice), setting up the work coordinate system (G54 location), and loading the NC program. These steps mirror those that will be performed by the student on the actual CNC, and so are reinforcing the student's experiences. Evidence of how the use of simulation is helping to increase the preparedness of students, reduce the occurrences of programming errors and machine crashes, and improve the efficiency of time spent in the lab will be presented.