STEP-NC-Compliant Implementation to Support Mixed-Control Technologies Applied to Stone-Processing Machines Based on Industrial Automation Standards
STEP-NC (Standard for the Exchange of Product Model Data–Numerical Control) for metal milling and turning is not implemented by industrial computer numerical controllers. Solutions reported are prototypes based on post-processing in G-code. Moreover, minority machining processes, such as stone cutting, have not yet been contemplated in the STEP-NC standard. This article takes that sector as a use case. An extended STEP-NC model for circular saw stone-cutting operations is proposed, and a prototype automation implementation is developed to work with this extended model. This article shows how modern technological resources for coordinated axes control provided by many industrial controllers for the automation of general-purpose machines can speed up the processes of implementing STEP-NC numerical controllers. This article proposes a mixed and flexible approach for STEP-NC-based machine automation, where different strategies can coexist when it comes to executing STEP-NC machining files, so controllers do not need to implement the standard in an exhaustive way for all the possible features, but only at selected ones when convenient. This is demonstrated in a prototype implementation which is able to process STEP-NC product files with mixed-feature types: standard milling and non-standard sawblade features for stone processing.