What can a smart-router do for you? (part 1)

Posted by Duane Marrett on Mon, Dec 16, 2013

Tags: Thermwood, nested based, Personal Pause Button, smart-router, broken tool recovery, smart-router series

Today's smartphones are essentially handheld computers that also make phone calls.  The speed of technological advancement in this area has been nothing short of phenomenal over the past decade.  Not so with CNC routers.  There has been the occasional improvement here and there, but not until recently with the introduction of the modern smart-router, has a CNC router come along that does much more than just route parts.

A modern smart-router saves material and labor and is really easy to use. The intial cost may be a little bit more than a traditional "dumb" router, but the benefits make it an overall much better investment for nested-based manufacturing.

Over the next several postings, we are going to demonstrate some of the ways that modern smart-routers can improve your production process and help you save money:

Pause button allows machine operator to safely do other jobs

Personal pause allows machine operator to safely do other jobsWith standard routers, the operator must remain close to the control so he can stop the machine if something goes wrong. The only job he can really do is watch the machine. With a smart-router, a pause button clips to his belt. Pressing it anywhere in the production cell stops the machine. It works like an emergency stop, but is not a “wrench in the gearbox” emergency stop. It immediately stops the machine, but offers options.  With this feature, the operator is free to perform other tasks away from the control. A progress bar, visible from a distance, shows the operator how long before he needs to service the machine. It’s like getting an extra worker for free.  More info on this feature.


Smart-routers can recover from broken tools without scrapping the material

Smart-routers easily recover from a broken tool

One great feature of a smart-router is the ability to recover from a broken tool without scrapping the sheet you are cutting or restarting the job. This can save a lot of time, effort and money.

If a tool breaks, press the Pause button to stop the machine.  Then select the Replace Tool option on the control, and the smart-router drops off the tool holder and notifies you to replace the tool. The machine then picks up the new tool, automatically measures it, adjusts the program for the new tool length, recuts the path of the broken tool and continues with the job.  More information on this feature.


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Smart-routers allow the machine operator to safely do other jobs

Posted by Duane Marrett on Wed, Jun 19, 2013

Tags: Thermwood, 3 Axis, Technology, Personal Pause Button, smart-router, smart-router, safety

Smart-routers support pause technology. The operator is no longer forced to remain at the machine to stop it in an emergency. A pause button clipped to his belt can stop the machine, so the operator is free to perform other tasks away from the control. A progress bar, visible from a distance, shows the operator how long before he needs to service the machine. It’s like getting an extra worker for free.

Pause button allows machine operator to safely do other jobs

Personal pause allows machine operator to safely do other jobsWith standard routers, the operator must remain close to the control so he can stop the machine if something goes wrong. The only job he can really do is watch the machine. With a smart-router, a pause button clips to his belt. Pressing it anywhere in the production cell stops the machine. It works like an emergency stop, but is not a “wrench in the gearbox” emergency stop. It immediately stops the machine, but offers options:

Thermwood Personal Pause Button Control ScreenIf you break a tool, the smart-router drops off the tool holder and tells you to replace the tool. It then picks up the new tool, automatically measures it, adjusts the program for the new tool length and diameter, recuts the path of the broken tool and continues with the job. You can also abandon and recut the sheet you are working on. Perhaps the sheet is warped or you found an internal defect when you started cutting. The machine gives you step by step instructions to replace and recut the sheet, right in the middle of the job. 

Perhaps some parts are moving because you didn’t fly-cut the spoilboard soon enough. You can instruct the machine to go ahead and finish this sheet, but leave a skin on all remaining parts so they won’t move and be scrapped. You can easily trim the skin afterwards and save the parts. By the way, smart-routers can fly cut a spoilboard in the middle of a job, then adjust the program for the new spoilboard thickness and finish the job. If these types of problems are encountered on an ordinary router, addressing them is much more involved. 

If you think about it, just the labor saving of being able to use the machine operator to do other tasks in the production cell is enough to pay for the upgrade to a smart-router. The savings in scrap, labor and programing when you encounter a problem makes it that much better.

By the way, not fly cutting the spoilboard soon enough to keep parts from moving is probably the single most common reason for scrapping parts in nested based machining. Smart-routers try to help by keeping track of where you have cut into the spoilboard as you machine parts. Before instructing you to load another sheet, it looks at the parts on the next sheet and at the cuts already in the spoilboard and makes sure every part has sufficient hold down area so it won’t move. If any part falls below a minimum, it gives the operator a choice, either fly cut the top before continuing or it will leave a skin on the problem part so it remains connected to other parts around it and doesn’t move. Over time this saves a ton of scrap, a lot of time and a lot of money.


Request a Consultation

Please click the "Request a Consultation" link above or give us a call at 1-800-533-6901 and we will sit down and show you how all this happens, in detail.


Thermwood adds “Personal Pause Button” to YouBuild

Posted by Duane Marrett on Fri, Oct 05, 2012

Tags: Thermwood, CNC Router, Announcements, YouBuild, Personal Pause Button, Remote Control

YouBuild

Thermwood has added a “Personal Pause Button” to its CNC routers that process YouBuild programs, which dramatically improves productivity.

Even though modern CNC machines rarely encounter production problems, they do happen. This means the machine operator must remain near the control to stop the machine should something unexpected occur. This limits what he or she can do, other than watch the machine.

To address this, Thermwood has developed a remote wireless “Pause Button” which can be clipped to a belt or pocket. Pressing this button stops the machine, much like an emergency stop, but this is different. The Pause Button, which works at distances of 100 feet or more, not only stops the machine in place but also offers several options for recovery:

 Thermwood Personal Pause Button

  • Back at the control screen, the system wants to know what happened and offers several options. You can just resume cutting by pressing “Resume”. Press the “Replace Tool” button and the machine drops off the tool holder with the broken tool and moves out of the way. Change the bit and replace the tool holder and tell the system to resume. It picks up the new tool, measures it and begins re-cutting the path for the broken tool.

Thermwood Personal Pause Button Control Screen

  • Perhaps parts are moving because you didn’t fly cut the table soon enough. By selecting “Leave Skin”, you can continue machining this sheet while leaving a skin on all remaining parts so they won’t move. You do have to remove the skin from these parts later but that is a lot easier and less expensive than remaking parts. When the sheet is done you can fly cut the table right in the middle of the program and then continue with the next sheet.

  • Another possibility is that you encounter bad material or something else happened that makes this sheet unusable. Simply select “Start Sheet Over” and the system will return to Home and instruct you to replace the sheet. It will then re-cut that sheet and continue on. There is a process for pretty much anything that might happen and it all starts with the Pause Button.

Because the Pause button is remote, the operator can move away from the control to sort, label or edge band parts and still be able to stop the machine if something happens. The control even displays a large progress bar along the top of the screen which can be seen from some distance away. It is like the ones you see on your computer and tells you how much time is left before the operator needs to flip a sheet or remove finished parts. By the way, in YouBuild, all back side machining is done on the full sheet rather than one part at a time. It’s a lot faster.

 Thermwood Personal Pause Button Control Screen Sheet Flip Timer

If there is more than one person working in the cell, each can have their own Personal Pause Button.

Personal Pause Button, a simple elegant addition makes processing YouBuild jobs so much easier and more productive.


You can find more information in the YouBuild section of the eCabinet Systems web site and at youbuild.com.