STEP Tools 6th Industrial Review Board Meeting to Feature New Level of Manufacturing Automation using Multi-Axis CNC Machines and STEP-NC Technology

Meeting to be held at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, CA on January 29-30, 2003

Troy, New York - January 23, 2003 - - STEP Tools, Inc. , announced today it will cohost its 6th Industrial Review Board (IRB) Meeting with NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The event will be held at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, on January 29-30, 2003. IRB members will view never-before-seen technology used by JPL to demonstrate how quickly a part can be machined on a multi-axis CNC milling machine using full fidelity STEP-NC product data. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory is participating in a STEP-NC Phase One Implementers program and testing the new technology. STEP Tools has lead the STEP-NC effort in North America, and the development of this breakthrough technology is supported by an Advanced Technology Program (ATP) Award issued by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department's Technology Administration.

During a series of demonstrations, STEP Tools will show how rapidly they can convert AP-203 (STEP) models into AP-238 (STEP-NC) with tolerances using JPL Crib sheets. They will also exhibit how they used an automated set-up wizard to define setup and fixtures. Using JPL crib sheet data, they will also perform tool selection and strategy selection, thus enhancing the productivity of NC programmers and NC machinists. Several JPL parts will be cut on multi-axis CNC milling machines.

A major point of the demonstration is to show the industry that STEP-NC based automatic machining, smart computing, and simulation will tremendously shorten the learning curve for both novice machinists with little CAM training and expert machinists with extensive experience. Using STEP-NC, machinists will receive a part, program the job with a logical step-by-step "wizard-like" approach, and in return get feedback on production schedules, machining strategy, tool selection, tolerances, and areas of particular complexity. STEP-NC will introduce a new era for manufacturing in terms of productivity, safety, reliability, and CNC machine tool usability and interoperability.

STEP-NC is on its way to becoming a Draft International Standard this year. Dr. Martin Hardwick, president and CEO of STEP Tools, is the STEP Manufacturing leader in the international STEP community of over 200 independent product data specialists. "Our team has made tremendous strides in moving STEP-NC based data structures toward Draft International Standards status. We are proud to work with JPL's experienced manufacturing engineers to continue the extensive development effort put into STEP and STEP-NC over the past ten years, and catapult manufacturing efficiency into the 21st Century," states Hardwick.

STEP (Standard for Product Data Exchange) is a comprehensive ISO standard for CAD design data. STEP-NC, the manufacturing extension of this standard, annotates the design information with manufacturing data. STEP became a full ISO standard in 1994, and since then, all of the leading CAD software vendors have implemented STEP data translation. It is estimated that more than one and a half million CAD stations now contain STEP data translators.