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International STEP-NC Testing in Toulouse

On June 28, 2006, a live 5-axis STEP-NC machining demonstration was hosted by Airbus at the Université Paul Sabatier Laboratoire de Génie mécanique in Toulouse. The demonstration and accompanying Manufacturing Industry Day featured:

  • 100 attendees
  • Successfully machined 5-axis test parts
  • Machining using STEP features
  • Contributions from France, UK, USA, Sweden, Germany
  • Presentations from France, UK, USA, Germany, Korea, Japan, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland
  • Test parts from Boeing and Airbus
  • Demonstrated use of STEP APís for design, planning and manufacturing

The Details

For the test part machined during the meeting, two different technology paths were demonstrated. The workpiece was first cut into a rough state using toolpaths computed from STEP manufacturing features by an intermediate CAM system. Second the workpiece was finished using toolpaths directly from the original design system. The final result was a STEP-NC AP238 file containing all geometry, feature, and toolpath information used during the entire process.

For roughing, a CAD model of the rough form was first exported from Catia as STEP AP203. This was annotated with STEP manufacturing features to produce AP224 data. Using plugins designed by STEP Tools, the AP224 data was read in to MasterCAM, a workplan with toolpaths was generated from the feature data, and an AP238 file containing all of the geometry, feature, and toolpath data was written out. last-minute changes to the cutting tools were easily accommodated and demonstrated flexibility. (Some slides describing roughing)

For finishing, a CAD model of the final form was exported from Catia, along with APT 5-axis toolpaths describing how to machine from the rough to the final form. These were added to the AP238 file to produce the complete roughing and finishing description. (Some slides describing finishing)

Finally, to cut the part, the AP238 file was then loaded onto a DMG 50 with a Siemens 840D controller located at the Université Paul Sabatier Laboratoire de Génie mécanique. (Some slides describing the implementation tools used)

In addition to the activities in Toulouse, a Boeing-supplied test part was circulated among the participants and cut prior to the meeting at a machine at NIST in Gaithersburg.


Test part provided by Airbus.


Side view, note the angled and curved sides requiring 5-axis machining.


Workpieces after the roughing (via toolpaths from features) and finish (via direct 5-axis toolpaths) steps.