Beckhoff TwinCAT CNC Offers CNC Controls with Pure PC-based Software

4/15/2003 - CNC controls were based on proprietary hardware for decades. The non-proprietary PC was only used for operation, visualisation and data processing. For years, the NC I software module from the TwinCAT family has already demonstrated that path control is also possible as a pure software solution. Through the new TwinCAT CNC, complete CNC functionality is now also possible as a pure PC-based software solution. The complete range of classic CNC path control applications, including high-end solutions, can thus be covered.

Complex path movements with high velocity and precision place high demands on computing power, real-time capability and deterministic features of the control system. The powerful, continuously evolving PC platform with increasingly fast processors and the hard real-time base of the TwinCAT real-time kernel offer ideal preconditions for software CNC. The requirements of CNC path control, PTP positioning control, PLC sequential control and operation/visualisation can be met without problem with the single-processor PC-solution of the Beckhoff TwinCAT system.

TwinCAT CNC can operate with up to 32 path axes and controlled spindles that can be distributed across up to 10 CNC channels with individual part programs. In one CNC channel, up to 32 axes and spindles can be interpolated simultaneously, enabling even the most difficult motion tasks to be solved.

The functionality grows with demand
As an option of the TwinCAT product range, TwinCAT CNC also offers the family features of continuity and openness in terms of system functionality. The configuration, programming and diagnostic tools of the TwinCAT system offer the user the peace of mind of a uniform CNC solution. TwinCAT CNC is based on TwinCAT PLC, the proven IEC 61131-3 software PLC and therefore has a powerful sequential control. Like in TwinCAT NC I (interpolation), part programming in TwinCAT CNC utilises high-level language extensions according to DIN 66025. For different machining technologies, the required axis, spindle, interpolation and feed functions etc. are available.

But TwinCAT CNC also offers appropriate CNC functionality for high-end applications. Suitable interpolation and real-time transformation functions are available, particularly for HSC machining of freeform surfaces and the classic "5-axis machining".

Fieldbus technology - openness for I/O and drive technology
In the CNC world, TwinCAT CNC offers an unique openness for the user in terms of I/O-periphery and drive systems through the consistent utilisation of fieldbus technology. A variety of I/O modules and automation components can be connected via all common fieldbus systems. The drive systems are also connected with the CNC via fieldbus systems. Depending on drive type, this can either be implemented via the classic analog/encoder interface with fieldbus modules or directly via a digital fieldbus interface, e.g. Profibus MC or SERCOS. This offers the user maximum flexibility in the choice of drive systems.

Tailor-made CNC solutions
With TwinCAT NC I and the new TwinCAT CNC, Beckhoff offers two CNC products within the TwinCAT system with partly different characteristics. TwinCAT NC I is a flexible and cost-effective solution for CNC applications that require no more than 3 interpolating path axes and 5 auxiliary axes in one CNC channel. Up to 31 channels with a total of up to 255 axes can be used. In combination with the integrated PTP functionality for the control of positioning axes, this results in a flexible, powerful control solution for large systems with many axes and CNC channels.

In contrast, TwinCAT CNC is the solution for classic CNC application with up to 32 interpolating path axes and controlled spindles in one CNC channel or distributed across up to 10 CNC channels. In combination with comprehensive functionality and the option of high-speed and 5-axis machining, TwinCAT CNC can cover the complete range of CNC applications.

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