Conversational vs offline programming
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    Default Conversational vs offline programming

    I have been task with increasing our through put as well as better quoted to actual in our machining department.

    Currently we have all Mazak equipment 4 milling centers and 1 turning center. We a job shop with sheet metal, welding and finishing as well. 70% of our machining work is new and 30% repeat.

    We have each machinist program set up and run their parts. All very skilled

    They each program at the machines for each part.

    What is the thought on switching to off line. I have done both conversational at the machine and CAM programming and see many advantages to off line. But most of the management and machinists are against offline.

    Anyone have advice or a good way to present the benefits?

    Thanks
    Scott.

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    An idle spindle, for any reason, is lost revenue.

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    if you have a standard tool list set in the machines that is reliable. and especially if you have a probe. you should be offline programming. so as soon as a part/job is done the next one can be tossed in while you clean/deburr/inspect the first. Keep the spindle running, machines make the money not us.

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    It depends on the parts and if the machinists are programing in background mode.

    There is a place for both methods. Need to use the correct tool for the right job.

    The downside to a dedicated CAM programmer is that his cost needs to be spread out over all of the machines. If you are doing production work the programmer can optimize the program for max machine efficiency and minimize tooling costs.

    Using conversational programing, the machinist does the job they way he sees fit. For simple and single run jobs this is often the best approach.

    The challenge is to know where a particular companies costs and efficiencies cross over from favoring one method to the other.

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    If you have a person dedicated to offline programming you are introducing a potential bottle neck. Also you are vulnerable when he is sick, holiday, disgruntled etc.

    Me - I ONLY program my machines off line then DNC to the machine, but I'm a hobbyist with no employees!

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    simple parts are usually faster done conversational and operator getting instant feedback running program he created can adjust feeds and speeds based on what he hears and sees and adjust conversational program fast as needed
    .
    quite often offline programming. conservative settings are used cause max feeds and speeds are unknown til program ran. for example facemill might go 15 to 50 ipm feed and if initially set to 50 ipm maybe 90% chance on sudden tool failure so progammer uses 25 ipm average setting to start with, same with determining depth and width of cut amounts. depending on noise coming from part and tool it can easily be adjusted up or down. usually experienced operator knows what and how to run things best. often guy in another room can only take a best guess. hard to describe. same with tool life. if tools only lasting 10 minutes conversational programming easy to change things so tool life is more reasonable. far faster feedback loop. and if tools lasting over 100 minutes settings can often be increased

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    for what a computer costs and a simple cheapy cam program, having a machine stand still while someone is writing a program is plain moronic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Dickman View Post
    for what a computer costs and a simple cheapy cam program, having a machine stand still while someone is writing a program is plain moronic.
    .
    .
    most cnc you program another program while machine is running a program. most simple parts it takes 10 seconds to program a op. whole part might take 5 minutes to program 10 or 20 things. and when program ran operator can adjust things up or down easy on what he sees and hears
    .
    guy not at machine has to take conservative guesses on many things. or sudden tool failures can occur and many scrap parts. if nothing else guy at machine programs using tools he has currently based on current tool inventory. he picks metal blocks shapes to start with based on whats currently in the rack.
    .
    many a scrapped part the operator walks over to rack and makes a program in a minute to make a rough block shape from whats in the rack to make another part to make up for one scrapped which might have just moved in the vise. spur of the moment programming rarely takes more than a few minutes

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    How much programming power do you really have with conversational? Can you use high speed machining options? All the options I have in my cadcam software makes it hard for me to believe that any conversational could come anywhere close to having all the facility I'd like to have at hand. This includes fixture building options right off the solid model.

    Does conversational = crash proof without simulation?

    Do you want to archive every program that was ever run somewhere? Is the technique learned by programming conversational something you can use as templates for similar parts?

    On the other side, if you expect the machinists to tweak the rough program hurriedly cranked out in CAM, can they do this conversationally at the control? Probably a bad mix there.

    I strongly doubt that you're going to get much more spindle up-time having guys go to the computer for a few minutes every part change and expect them to build coherent programs. Programming takes dedicated and uninterrupted thinking time, whether at the computer or at the control, otherwise nasty mishaps can result.

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    The more complex the part, the more it makes sense to program offline. Five axis programs, forget conversational, aint gonna happen. We have 17 CNC lathes. 99% of our programs are written at the machine, while other parts are running. The guys who run these machines all can program quite well. A hot job comes in, and one guy starts the programming, the tool room gets the tooling ready, our water strider makes sure all the material is staged. Once the previous job is done, the next job is ready, and off we go. Conversational is fantastic for our shop. Maybe not yours.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HuFlungDung View Post
    How much programming power do you really have with conversational? Can you use high speed machining options? All the options I have in my cadcam software makes it hard for me to believe that any conversational could come anywhere close to having all the facility I'd like to have at hand. This includes fixture building options right off the solid model.

    Does conversational = crash proof without simulation?

    Do you want to archive every program that was ever run somewhere? Is the technique learned by programming conversational something you can use as templates for similar parts?

    On the other side, if you expect the machinists to tweak the rough program hurriedly cranked out in CAM, can they do this conversationally at the control? Probably a bad mix there.

    I strongly doubt that you're going to get much more spindle up-time having guys go to the computer for a few minutes every part change and expect them to build coherent programs. Programming takes dedicated and uninterrupted thinking time, whether at the computer or at the control, otherwise nasty mishaps can result.
    depends on how complex the parts. 90% of parts are simple and easy to conversationally program. done every day. and most cnc like mazaks the conversational is CAM software the cycles are designed for a few clicks to do many many things all automatic. thats what many fail to understand conversational is a built in CAM software thing
    .
    sure a 10 ton casting with a 1000 features needing programmed aint going to be conversationally programmed at a cnc. thats done by full time programmer at a desk

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carguy001 View Post
    I have been task with increasing our through put as well as better quoted to actual in our machining department.

    Currently we have all Mazak equipment 4 milling centers and 1 turning center. We a job shop with sheet metal, welding and finishing as well. 70% of our machining work is new and 30% repeat.

    We have each machinist program set up and run their parts. All very skilled

    They each program at the machines for each part.

    What is the thought on switching to off line. I have done both conversational at the machine and CAM programming and see many advantages to off line. But most of the management and machinists are against offline.

    Anyone have advice or a good way to present the benefits?

    Thanks
    Scott.
    I think this one is no brainer
    If were up to me offline, that way have a library of
    drawings and programs for repeat jobs,also at the machine lot of cases you do so fast that end-up switching numbers and you mess up tooling,set-up part
    and lost time because it's not that fast,you arm feels is going to drop from standing up doing the input, you get tired very quick,and is not that fast, because you verify what you input,versus your notes,that can be an hour wasted or more.
    Seen shops that do it at the machine mainly shaft work,I do remove lots of metal from uneven forgings that no way by hand, same thing at the mill, plus the ability once you run it, send it back at your computer drive ready for next repeat order, has work
    great for me.

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    It doesn't have to be either/or, and it doesn't have to be a specified programmer.

    There was an article in one of the trade rags a few years ago where a shop doing close tolerance work had N machines, N skilled machinists, and each machine had a seat of the CAM software.

    So person making the part could do it manually (depending on CNC) or with conversational or by programming in CAM - or some combination....

    Which is what I do in my non-commercial very low quantities, fiddly special parts only, shop.

    Don't know how it works out for a high volume shop, but OP says 70% of parts are new/first time, and doesn't suggest huge runs...

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    Lathe work can be simple programming that can be done at the machine as can some Mill work.

    That said, I like to Program offline bring it over to machine, gather tooling and material and be ready form when machine completes the last jobs. Setup and get machine running again...once running well, put an operator on it and start programming the next jobs.


    What I think is best about CAM is you learn one machining method and gain experience and expertise with it while the CAM program deals with each machines little quirks and intricacies. If you have 5- 10 machines each machine...even new renditions of the same machine can have oddities that need to be learned...CAM- a good one is program and go. Different machine...same program different Post to program and go.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HuFlungDung View Post
    Programming takes dedicated and uninterrupted thinking time, whether at the computer or at the control, otherwise nasty mishaps can result.

    I could not agree more.

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    We use both approaches. We have fanuc and mazatrol machines. Most of our guys can use the cam software but all but the simplest programs get optimised by the machinist on the machine. We output canned cycles wherever possible so that it is easy to up the depth of cut, feed rate, surface speed etc. It's not unusual to knock 30% of cycle times when the cutting conditions are fully known and confidence in setup is gained. The progs and setup info are then saved back to the computer for next time round.
    The Mazak is an integrex. Thar normally gets programed conversational on the machine because I'm not willing to fork out an absolute fortune for the 5 axis modules (+maintence) for our cam for just one machine that like Tom says, can be programed while the machine is running another job. These also get optimized as the job progresses.

    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Dickman View Post
    for what a computer costs and a simple cheapy cam program, having a machine stand still while someone is writing a program is plain moronic.
    What are your recommendations for cheapy cam program Larry?

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    Quote Originally Posted by barratt View Post
    We use both approaches. We have fanuc and mazatrol machines. Most of our guys can use the cam software but all but the simplest programs get optimised by the machinist on the machine. We output canned cycles wherever possible so that it is easy to up the depth of cut, feed rate, surface speed etc. It's not unusual to knock 30% of cycle times when the cutting conditions are fully known and confidence in setup is gained. The progs and setup info are then saved back to the computer for next time round.
    The Mazak is an integrex. Thar normally gets programed conversational on the machine because I'm not willing to fork out an absolute fortune for the 5 axis modules (+maintence) for our cam for just one machine that like Tom says, can be programed while the machine is running another job. These also get optimized as the job progresses.



    What are your recommendations for cheapy cam program Larry?
    From what I've heard this Fusion 360 is supposed to work pretty good, and is quite cheapy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Dickman View Post
    From what I've heard this Fusion 360 is supposed to work pretty good, and is quite cheapy.
    According to their website I can get full 5 axis, turn, mill + solid modeller for £998/ year!
    That's not much more expensive than the maintenance on our turn/mill cam alone.
    Does this stuff actually work or is it £12k for a post processor? ;-)
    Maybe it's worth investigating because I'm seriously sick of paying maintenance fees for a product that seems to get worse with each release (To the point where I can't be arsed to install them anymore).
    Anyway, gone off topic.
    Cheers

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    It is a chunk of money but if you are a Mazak shop then look into Griffo Brothers software. They are a big Mazak shop and wrote their own software. It has enough "Mazak" look and feel to the interface that it is fairly easy to get started with, and it will output native Mazitrol programs so operators can tweak at the control just like they normally do. Many available moduels for ISO conversions/output too, and can read dxf files. I'm also pretty sure you can get a single seat and a network license. That way you can have a few workstations scattered around your shop and it can be used by many, but only one at a time.
    I write a lot of Mazitrol programs at the machine, but when there is a lot of features to the part it sure in nice to sit in my office and do it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scruffy887 View Post
    It is a chunk of money but if you are a Mazak shop then look into Griffo Brothers software. They are a big Mazak shop and wrote their own software. It has enough "Mazak" look and feel to the interface that it is fairly easy to get started with, and it will output native Mazitrol programs so operators can tweak at the control just like they normally do. Many available moduels for ISO conversions/output too, and can read dxf files. I'm also pretty sure you can get a single seat and a network license. That way you can have a few workstations scattered around your shop and it can be used by many, but only one at a time.
    I write a lot of Mazitrol programs at the machine, but when there is a lot of features to the part it sure in nice to sit in my office and do it.
    You know what? OP might have one of the few cases where that software makes a ton of sense. They would have the flexibility to do both on EVERY program.


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