The icons to the left of each program in the program list lets you know at a glance
what state the program is in:
Green means good. This program has generated
and fulfilled all the program requirements and does not gouge the part or collide with stock. We like these.
This program has generated
but did not fulfill all the program requirements (e.g. a Z-Planar program that could not go all the way
to the specified depth because a pocket was too small for the tool). The program does not gouge the part or collide
with stock. These are usually OK but you can find out more using the
Program Inspect feature.
This program has been post processed
and is ready to run on the machine.
The check mark is shown next to the status symbol is added when
the user picks the Program/Mark function. Typically users mark programs after execution on the machine to keep track
of which have been run on the machine already.
This is bad. It indicates that this program will gouge the part
or cause a stock collision. Use Program Inspect to find where this program has problems.
This program is in an indeterminate state. It needs to either
be generated and/or checked for gouges and stock collisions. Click on the Project/Build icon to update it.
This program failed to generate. Choose
to find out more information about why it could not generate itself to correct the problem.
Still Need Documentation?
If part of your quality regimen requires your shop to document your processes, you can
request Prospector to generate the necessary NC documentation when a job is finished. These reports
are customized to include the information required. No more worries about lost documents or documents that don’t actually
reflect the steps that were taken to machine the job.
Specialize Your PowerSource Databases for Roughing and Finishing (or any other purpose or application)
While it makes perfect sense that finish programming be done in the same Prospector
project as the roughing, it does not necessarily mean using the same PowerSource database. In fact,
you shouldn't if the finishing is done by a different machine tool. Finish machining is
a different animal in that the machinist will use different tooling, strategies, feeds and speeds
more appropriate for the capabilities and well suited to providing a high quality finish. Prospector
lets you have separate user PowerSource databases that can be configured with the proper tooling
and settings for specific applications (or people, or machine tools, ....).
Organizing the Programming Process
You Already Know the Problems
Files, files, files.....
What are all these files?
What is a .clf, .fan, .nci, .cl, .igs, .pdb, .dwg, ...file anyways?
Am I looking in the right folder?
Are these the current set of files or are they obsolete?
Where are the post processed files I'm supposed to run?
Which programs have been run on the machine already?
What programs did the 2nd shift run?
Someone accidentally deleted all the finish programs!
Did I run this program already?
Back in the 20th century shops used NC setup sheets to convey information to the machinists on the shop floor
what is to be machined, what machine tool to use, what programs are to be run, what tools to use for each program and so on. A traveler with the setup
sheet was produced in the office and physically walked out to the shop and put in the hopper for scheduling. NC programs
created and post processed for the job were organized on a server using the directory structure and naming conventions that
shop standards dictated. As the programs were run, the machinists would mark up the setup sheet to indicate progress.
What could possibly go wrong?
Anything and everything. A common site was machine tools idle while shop and office staff confer about the programming:
Disagreements about tool selection or the tools listed on the setup sheet were not available.
A program listed on the setup sheet is not on the server.
Program parameters are causing excessive tool wear or exceed the capabilities of the machine.
One or more programs listed on the sheet seem to be in the incorrect order (the walls of a pocket are machined before the pocket is cleared of stock).
The program was post-processed for a different machine tool so the program won't run on the CNC.
And the worst-case scenario; a machine tool crash just happened
and the blame game begins.
A Better Way
Prospector does away with the rat's nest of files because it is project-based. A Prospector project encapsulates
all the data associated with the machining of a job. Pick the project to open, and everything is there and it's organized. No more roaming around file systems
trying to find data files.
All programs created to machine the component appear in the Program List:
The Program List is a tree structure that organizes the NC programs so you can make sense out the entire machining process.
Job & Project - the top-level folder in the tree control is the job number and project for that job that you are
currently working on.
Setup Information - a setup defines how the part is positioned on the machine tool. There can be any number of
setups in a project. In this example there is just 1 setup and it was named "Top".
Machining Categories - Rough, Semi Rough, Semi Finish and Finish are machining categories. Within these categories are
the programs to perform the phase of machining for the job. Because the programs are categorized like this, you can setup your PowerSource
knowledge-base to suggest and enforce parameters for each phase of machining. For example, your stock allowance for finish machining would
be far less than for rough machining.
Program Information - each program for each phase of machining is listed in the order it was created and intended to be
run on the machine. Prospector automatically assigns each program a unique number as they are created. You can designate a different prefix
to use for program names and/or renumber the programs if you wish. The tool information is always shown for each program. Additional
columns of information you wish to see can be added to the program list. In this example, just 1 column with the machining strategy was
added. The graphic symbol next to each program indicates the state of the program. See the left side-bar for more information.
A Collaborative Effort
Often times the machining of a job involves 2 different machine tools and more than likely 2 different machinists. The job is roughed
on one machine tool, sent to heat treat and returned to be finished on another machine tool.
The finish machinist picks up where the roughing left off using the same project. Since all the roughing programs are in the
remaining stock model reflects the actual state of the stock on the job. That's invaluable information to have to guide
the finish programming process.
When machining is complete the project is archived in the event a duplicate tool is ordered in the future.
Prospector for Non-programmers
A Prospector software license is not required to use the Send to Control (post processing) feature. This allows you to put Prospector in the hands of
non-programmers in your shop. Using Prospector, they can retrieve previously prepared projects, preview the programs so they aren’t running blind then
send them to the CNC for execution on the machine. You need not worry about non-programmers making inappropriate edits to any program because the
project build feature does not enable if there isn’t a valid software license. This ensures the programs prepared by your programming experts are run as-is.