The manufacturing process can be divided into four high-level
Figure 4 – Post-Processing CL
Data and Machining
Creating the manufacturing model is the first step in the manufacturing
• You can select and copy a template manufacturing model during the
– By default, the template manufacturing model includes default datum
planes and a default coordinate system.
– You can configure many other items in template manufacturing models.
For example, you can include fixtures and a configured machine tool.
• Alternatively you can create an “empty” model. However, the recommended
procedure is to create the manufacturing model using a template model.
Creating the Manufacturing Environment
Configuring the manufacturing environment is the second step in the
manufacturing process. This step involves configuring a number of elements
within the manufacturing model. Here is a summary of the most important
• Workcell – This specifies the type of machine tool being used. For
example, you can specify a workcell as a single turret or a twin turret
turning machine with various machine tool parameters such as feed units
and maximum spindle speed.
• Operation – Machining operations are a series of NC steps that are
performed by a particular workcell (machine tool) and reference a particular
coordinate system. They include the following elements:
– Machine coordinate system – Also referred to as the machine zero
position. This specifies the program zero position in X, Y, and Z on the
– Retract plane – Also referred to as the retract surface. This specifies the
clearance level to which the tool retracts after completing an NC step.
– Fixtures – Are parts or assemblies that can be used to hold the
component being machined. For example, you can create chuck
assemblies and use them as fixtures.
Fixtures are optional elements and are not required to create
• Reference model – You must assemble a reference model before creating
NC steps. The reference model represents the final machined component.
Surfaces and edges are selected from the reference model and are used
as references when creating NC steps.
• Workpiece model – This represents the unmachined stock material. It is an
optional element and is not required to create NC steps. However, using a
workpiece enables you to simulate the machining of the stock material.
Creating NC Steps and CL Data
The next step in the manufacturing process is to create NC steps in the
manufacturing model; this involves the following:
• Specifying a tool.
• Selecting or creating geometry to machine (for example, a surface to
machine or holes to be drilled).
• Specifying how the tool machines the selected geometry by editing
machining parameters (for example, specifying cut feed rate and spindle
• When NC steps have been created, it is then possible to create Cutter
Location (CL) data files. These are generated from the tool motions within
NC steps are made up of a series of tool motions. In addition, you
can add specific post-processor commands for correct NC output.
Post-Processing CL Data and Machining
CL Data files can then be post-processed to create Machine Control Data
(MCD) files. This is done using machine-specific or generic post-processors.
You can then use MCD files to machine components on machine tools.