Manufacturing Control Software2 min read
Manufacturing control software has existed in a rudimentary form since the advent of Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines. The term CNC refers to the computerized control of machine tools, to facilitate the repeated production of complex parts in all kinds of materials. CNC was developed in the late 1940s and early 1950s in the M.I.T.
Early CNC machines used a software program written in a notation called G-Code. In the early days, the computers were very large in size and were power guzzlers. Despite their huge presence, the 1950 computers had very limited processing or data storage power. Therefore, computers were not used in the manufacturing industry, till the appearance of Personal Computers (PCs) and suitable Operating Systems in the 1980s.
With The PC explosion in the 1980s, CNC manufacturers started shifting to PC-based controls running Microsoft Windows or O/S 2 operating systems, which can be linked to the existing networks using standard protocols. Manufacturing companies began to move away from, expensive minicomputer and workstation based CAD/CAM which usually ran on G-Code, towards the more cost-effective PC-based software solutions. PC-based systems which can accomplish complicated tasks, using standard network protocols are available at minimal or no cost. In most cases, the Manufacturers do not need an ‘expert’ to implement shop floor networking, and can do the implementation themselves.
The demand for sophisticated manufacturing software has grown tremendously, over the last fifteen years and affords a lot of new and exciting functionality, to a variety of machines in the manufacturing industry.
Many software developers write and provide proprietary software systems. These are for manufacturing companies, employing computer control of machine tools such as milling machines, cutting machines, robots, hexapods, and lathes. However, these software programs are supplied for a fee, and are subject to Copyright Act provisions. Free open source CNC control software is also available on Internet.