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Scalable CNC platform can handle more than 200 axes

10 September, 2012

NUM has launched a new-generation, scalable CNC platform for the safe control of machine tools that, it says, will cut OEMs’ development and support costs, as well as time to market. The modular Flexium+ platform will allow OEMs to standardise on a single cost- and performance-optimised CNC architecture for all applications ranging from small machines with a few axes, to large multi-cell systems with more than 200 axes and spindles.

The new system (above) builds on NUM`s Flexium CNC – the fastest-growing and most successful CNC kernel in the company`s 50-year history. To provide more versatility, dynamic performance and accuracy, the hardware now includes: new digital servodrive modules with integrated safety; a safety PLC module; safe I/O modules; and a multi-processor operator panel with a touch-sensitive screen (below). New software includes a soft-PLC with a customisable HMI that recognises touch gestures, and a 3D simulator for verifying part programs and visualising machining processes.

There is a choice of three CNC kernels, supporting from four interpolated axes and a spindle, up to eight CNC channels, each accommodating up to nine interpolated axes and up to 32 spindles.

“Being able to use one CNC architecture across a complete range of machines gives a very large payback, especially for the many small-to-medium sized machine tool builders that support a broad range of applications using limited design resources,” says NUM CEO, Peter von Rueti.

Several Flexium+ CNC kernels can be interconnected via real-time Ethernet, to achieve control systems with more than 200 interpolating axes. NUM claims that the ability to drive multiple kernels and control this number of axes with one automation PLC is unique.

The new NUMDrive X single- and dual-axis digital servodrives (above) offer two performance levels, with outputs from a few amps to 200A rms. They are claimed to be among the smallest drives of their type. They are much faster than the earlier NUMDrive C products, with DSP controls boosting the servo bus speed by 100%. Together with bandwidth improvements of up to 25% and enhanced acceleration algorithms, this means that designers do not need to sacrifice resolution during extended axis travel, or trade traverse rate against positioning accuracy.

NUM is also introducing two ranges of brushless motors for use with the new
drives. They incorporate a digital encoder interface that avoids the need for a separate cable by carrying encoder power and data on a two-wire link in the motor cable. The motors have a single connector and cable, simplifying installation and reducing wiring costs.

Flexium+ introduces a system-wide safety architecture called NUMSafe. All critical operations are overseen by a new safety PLC module. Working with new safe I/O modules and motion monitoring circuitry in the servodrives, the safety PLC allows machine designers to implement safety functions with few additional components. The servodrives have a safe motion monitoring board available either in a basic Safe Torque Off version, or in an extended version that adds five more safety functions.

NUMSafe is scalable, needs minimal extra wiring and uses a Fail Safe over EtherCat protocol to ensure the integrity of all safety-related data. The architecture complies with EN ISO 13849-1 to PLe, and EN 61800-5-2 to SIL 3.

All of the CNC, servodrive, I/O, automation PLC and safety PLC functions are set up and programmed using a single tool. The automation PLC offers a choice of IEC 61131-3 programming languages, while the safety PLC is programmed using function blocks and Boolean operators. Part programs can be verified and optimised using NUM`s Flexium 3D graphical simulation software running on an offline PC or on the new operator panel.




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