Configuring manufacturing operations form part of the set up for the manufacturing procedure. An operation and a machine tool
must be configured before NC steps can be created.
Manufacturing operations contain:
• Fixtures (Optional)
• Machine Coordinate System
• Retract Plane
• Start/End Points (Optional)
• NC Sequences
Figure 3 – Machine Tool Configuration
• Manufacturing operations contain configured elements such as machine zero coordinate systems and fixtures.
• Manufacturing operations also contain NC steps that reference the configured machine tool (workcell), and the specified machine coordinate system.
• An operation consists of a number of configured elements such as:
– The machine coordinate system (specified by the machine zero position). This also specifies the direction of the X- and Z-axes on the
– A retract plane (or surface) which the tool retracts to between NC steps.
– An optional fixture setup.
• When these items have been specified, you can create NC steps to machine components assembled into the manufacturing model. These
NC steps reference the machine tool and the machine zero position. You cannot create NC steps until you configure the manufacturing operation and configure a machine tool.
Fixtures are typically configured at this stage of setting up the operation.
However, they are optional elements of an operation and are not required to complete NC steps. Fixtures are parts or assemblies that are assembled into manufacturing models, and they can be easily activated and deactivated as required. Fixtures can be used as references, for example:
• To specify the location of the machine coordinate system.
• To locate the position of reference models in the manufacturing model.
• To locate the position of workpiece models in the manufacturing model.
Machine Coordinate System and Retract Plane
The machine coordinate system, often referred to as the machine zero position, acts as the origin position for CL data output.
• The machine coordinate system specifies the direction of the X- and Z-axes on the machine tool.
• You can configure the machine coordinate system by selecting or creating a coordinate system in the manufacturing model.
– When configuring the machine coordinate system, you can reference existing datum features in the manufacturing model, you can reference
fixture geometry, or you can use reference model or workpiece geometry.
The retract plane (or surface) specifies the level to which the tool retracts to between cutting motions.
• You can specify the retract plane at the operation level, and then modify its position for specific NC steps as required.
• By default, the retract plane is configured along the Z-axis of the machine coordinate system. You can select an alternative reference if required.
Depending on your requirements, you can specify the retract position to be a plane, cylinder, sphere, or a custom-made surface.
Although not required, it is highly recommended to create Start and End points (often the same point) for toolpath motion.
• The point(s) must lie in the XZ plane (in reference to the Machine Coordinate System).
• The point(s) should lie outside the workpiece envelope.
Machine Tool Configuration
When configuring a machine tool (workcell), the minimum configuration involves specifying:
• Machine Name
– For example: Fadal/Fanuc/Makino
• Machine Type
• Number of Turrets
– This can be 1 or 2
– Dependent on machine type
Where appropriate, it is recommended to assemble fixtures before specifying the machine coordinate system or assembling both reference models and workpiece models. This enables these items to reference any fixtures if required.