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At EMO 2009, NUM is launching a ready-integrated pan-and-tilt tool head solution for sophisticated plasma, laser and waterjet cutting machinery applications.

Called NUMcut, it provides a simple means of extending the capability of machinery from 2D to 3D applications, with precise multi-axis interpolation.

The package includes a new tool head design that provides the versatility of movement and stiffness required to implement precision cutting motion, but with very low mass and the elimination of cabling runs that need to flex with the tool head movement.

The head offers a simple upgrade path for CNC machines in the cutting machinery market.

The NUMcut tool head employs gimbals and the Cardan universal joint to convert the movement of two linear actuators into 360deg of panning motion, plus control of tilt angle up to 47deg.

Combined with the conventional three-axis X-Y-Z movement of the underlying cutting machine, NUMcut offers machine builders a simple means of migrating machinery to sophisticated three-dimensional performance.

A simpler and smaller version of the tool head offering control of tilt angle up to 8deg is also being made available, to allow machine builders to compensate for the taper of plasma or waterjet beams.

This variant is considerably smaller, allowing multiple tools to be mounted if required.

The Cardan-based mechanics give the toolhead a number of technical advantages compared with current alternative motion control approaches, including motion control systems with motors and gears mounted on the moving head, or complex mechanical arrangements such as parallelogram frames.

In NUM’s design arrangement, the tool holder sits inside dual gimbals, which are mounted on a fixed yoke frame.

This means that the actuating elements – two rods with Cardan joints driven by linear actuators – are very small and light.

The yoke element of the design means that stiffness is not compromised, virtually eliminating backlash.

The movement characteristics of NUMcut also mean that only the cutting tool itself is subject to the panning and tilting movement.

NUMcut is offered as a complete turnkey solution for machine builders, for 2.5- or 3D tool head control.

Each version of the tool head is supplied with all the supporting hardware and software required, including servomotors and drives, and the Flexium CNC kernel, including the drivers that transform 3D path tracing motion into interpolated motion control commands for the two linear axes.

The package allows simple programming in the typical style of a five-axis machine – with three linear and two rotational axes of movement.

As the tilt angle is limited by mechanics to a maximum of 47deg in all directions, operator safety is assured and any need for additional protection measures is minimised.

The tool head’s low weight and compact form factor makes it possible for a machine builder to convert an existing simple three-axis cutter into a five-axis machine.

Alternatively, it becomes simple to design one new machine platform that can be assembled in three- or five-axis variants.

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