Machine control toolkit

Baldor’s new PC-based MintNC software will allow automation engineers to import information in industry-standard CAD formats and then automatically generate real-time motion commands.

Developed and proven over 15 years by a specialist engineering software developer, Baldor has licensed the intellectual property, and integrated it tightly with its high-level Mint motion programming environment. The combination delivers an automated means of performing very high-speed contouring for servo and stepper motor based motion systems such as laser and water jet profilers, routers, grinders and tangential knife cutters.

MintNC may be used in a variety of modes depending on the process requirements. It can provide an automatic CAD-to-production system for one-off tasks such as rapid prototyping for instance. Equally, it could be used as a front-end to create solutions for repetitive tasks, such as the cutting of vehicle air bags. Here, users can import CAD files, integrate the geometry with the speed and control data, and export the data as a motion script suitable for downloading to a Mint motion controller.

Included in the software are tools for creating application-specific user interfaces, using standard programming environments such as Visual Basic or C. For example, users can easily create a custom man-machine interface that presents graphical displays of geometry combined with program listings and simple machine controls such as jog and home buttons on screen.

The standard interfaces built into MintNC, including ActiveX compatibility, allow developers to integrate systems readily with other specialist hardware. An example might use cameras and image processing libraries. Data from a subsystem like this could be used to generate geometric information to drive the motion hardware, facilitating the automation of a wide range of further applications – especially those where products are made in single or low quantities, and production tasks must be adapted to suit the item being processed.

Real-time motion control hardware support is provided, including the multi-axis NextMove card which plugs into a standard PCIbus slot on a PC, and matched drives and servo motors. Mint-compatible motion controllers provide PLC-style I/O resources – providing machine builders with a set of components required to configure and assemble machine control systems.

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