Open architecture CNC at Wisconsin manufacturing expo

October 04, 2017 - 11:15am
“What Else is Inside this Box? Open Architecture CNC”
Open architecture CNC at Wisconsin manufacturing expo

For those who want to enhance a CNC by adding capabilities, Chris Robson, applications engineer for Minneapolis-headquartered machine tool dealer Concept Machine Tool – (Delafield) Wisconsin, gave a presentation titled “What Else is Inside this Box? Open Architecture CNC.” His seminar took place Oct. 3 at the 15th biennial Wisconsin Manufacturing & Technology Show in the Exhibition Center at the Wisconsin State Fair Park, Milwaukee.

Robson said a CNC is capable of performing many new and innovative functions out of the box. “Come up with an idea and nine out of 10 times the CNC can make it happen.”

Some of the examples he noted include providing remote production monitoring and scheduling, automated gage feedback, production and overall equipment efficiency data, and new CNC functionality, such as programmable spindle variation.

In addition, a CNC can accommodate numerous peripheral accessories, such as a vibration monitor and a programmable coolant nozzle. An example of the former is DTect-IT, a Windows application that communicated with custom USB sensors from Caron Engineering Inc., Wells, Maine, to effectively monitor any area of concern on a CNC machine tool or fixture. Spidercool from Dimensional Control Inc., South Windsor, Conn., is an example of the latter. The servo-driven, programmable coolant nozzle system is for vertical and horizontal machining centers and automatically and precisely aims high-pressure coolant at a tool’s cutting edge.

Drivers and libraries are available to create a closed-loop system, Robson added. FOCAS2 Library from FANUC, for instance, is for developing Windows applications to communicate with a FANUC CNC via Ethernet or high-speed serial bus.

Some of the resources Robson recommended to get started are available at,, and

Related Glossary Terms

  • centers


    Cone-shaped pins that support a workpiece by one or two ends during machining. The centers fit into holes drilled in the workpiece ends. Centers that turn with the workpiece are called “live” centers; those that do not are called “dead” centers.

  • closed-loop system

    closed-loop system

    CNC system in which the program output, or the distance the slide moves, is measured and compared to the program input. The system automatically adjusts the output to be the same as the input.

  • computer numerical control ( CNC)

    computer numerical control ( CNC)

    Microprocessor-based controller dedicated to a machine tool that permits the creation or modification of parts. Programmed numerical control activates the machine’s servos and spindle drives and controls the various machining operations. See DNC, direct numerical control; NC, numerical control.

  • coolant


    Fluid that reduces temperature buildup at the tool/workpiece interface during machining. Normally takes the form of a liquid such as soluble or chemical mixtures (semisynthetic, synthetic) but can be pressurized air or other gas. Because of water’s ability to absorb great quantities of heat, it is widely used as a coolant and vehicle for various cutting compounds, with the water-to-compound ratio varying with the machining task. See cutting fluid; semisynthetic cutting fluid; soluble-oil cutting fluid; synthetic cutting fluid.

  • fixture


    Device, often made in-house, that holds a specific workpiece. See jig; modular fixturing.



Alan holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Including his 20 years at CTE, Alan has more than 30 years of trade journalism experience.


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