STEP Tools and STEP-NC Covered in New Industry Book entitled "Exploring Advanced Manufacturing Technologies" by Steve Krar and Authur Gill
The Industrial Press recently released a new industry publication entitled "Exploring Advanced Manufacturing Technologies." The book was written by Steve Krar and Authur Gill, a highly successful team of technical authors whose reputations for accuracy and quality are recognized worldwide. The book introduces and provides an overview of 45 of the latest manufacturing technologies. Topics include: STEP-NC CNC Manufacturing & Lasers, Robotics & Rapid Prototyping, E-Manufacturing, Manufacturing in the Future, Nanotechnology, plus many other advanced technologies. The chapter entitled STEP NC and Internet Manufacturing covers STEP and STEP-NC in detail. Industrial Press is the publisher of Machinery's Handbook and other books for Engineering, Technology, and Education since 1883.
STEP Tools Rolls Out ST-Plan v1.0, First Commercial Software Product Available to Produce STEP-NC Data
In July 2003, STEP Tools rolled out ST-PlanÔ v1.0, a fast, efficient software product for creating machine independent CNC control files from STEP (AP-203 or AP-214) data. Based on years of research supported by the U.S. government, ST-Plan incorporates the best strategies for recognizing manufacturing features and generating Process Plans. With ST-Plan, manufacturers can rapidly plan and optimize part programs for a wide range of machines and take advantage of productivity enhancements using feature and process recognition.
"ST-Plan is the first-to-the-market software package dedicated to STEP-NC, eManfacturing, and a new level of automation," states Dr. Martin Hardwick, president and CEO of STEP Tools. "STEP Tools has successfully demonstrated machine tools driven by full fidelity STEP-NC data. Our STEP-NC Implementers programs are moving forward progressively, and now with our launch of ST-Plan, machine shops and CNC programmers can also affordably evaluate and begin the process of creating and exploring STEP-NC data."
ST-Plan creates machine independent CNC control files via a simple STEP In, STEP-NC out approach. The program essentially defines tolerances, features, processes, and tool requirements needed for the machining process. STEP Tools has developed ST-Plan in conjunction with Honeywell FM&T. Feature recognition and the STEP-NC data format make it possible to expedite the path planning process, and at the same time, significantly reduce CNC programming time for 3D CAD models. ST-Plan prepares full fidelity machining data for any CNC machine tool thus eliminating post processors. The program is ideal for simple parts, and highly effective on complex parts such as aerospace multi-surface models as shown in a recent demonstration at NIST.
STEP Tools recently announced the results of its STEP-NC technology meeting cohosted with NIST in June 2003 at NIST headquarters in Gaithersburg, MD. Members of the STEP-NC Industrial Review Board and attendees from major U.S. manufacturers, machine tool companies, and software developers observed a series of "firsts" in the progression of STEP-NC demonstrated at NIST's Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory (MEL). NIST is a pilot member of the STEP-NC Implementers program.
The most significant advancement presented at the event was the process of integrating complex surface models into STEP-NC (AP-238) CNC-independent control data. The full fidelity data was successfully used to machine a demonstration part constructed by Boeing Defense on a multi-axis CNC machine tool. The purpose of the demonstration was to show OEMs they can send the definition of a surface model to their suppliers as a part of the STEP-NC file, and in turn, the supplier can evaluate a full fidelity description of the surface on the CNC machine tool. The benefits are twofold: 1) much greater production accuracy because of the elimination of approximations, and 2) a vastly reduced data volume, because a surface's functional STEP-NC definition is very small as compared to megabytes of outmoded G & M codes.
Also debuting at the demonstration was the ST-Machine plug-in for Mastercam software (CNC Software, Tolland, CT), which was used for toolpath generation. For the first time, STEP Tools presented the definition of G D & T tolerancing in STEP-NC using their ST-Plan software. The audience was given a tour of the new STEP Index Library (STIX), a C++/COM library of useful functions for creating and modifying applications using STEP-NC (AP-238) machining data. This free, downloadable library gives developers of Open Architecture Controls and other applications easy access to the NC data defined by STEP-NC. The STEP-NC team also previewed a probing application with NIST. This demonstration will be followed by subsequent meetings for input to fuel further development in this area of manufacturing.
STEP Tools is now shipping a major release of its flagship product ST-Developer v10. This software solution is designed to help industrial Applications Developers to implement and comply with ISO-STEP International Standards for engineering product data. ST-Developer v10 is a suite of STEP and EXPRESS programming tools incorporating a bounty of new features, software enhancements and extensions that make it easy to view, read, manipulate, validate and share STEP data. Programmers will find over 70% of the STEP implementation process is automated with intelligent programming functionality found in ST-Developer v10. STEP implementations set the stage for progression into the world of STEP-NC, the most highly anticipated technology to emerge in the manufacturing industry. ST-Developer dramatically cuts costs and programming efforts related to building, operating and maintaining STEP applications, data translators and databases.
"ST-Developer v10 enables manufacturers to move expeditiously toward STEP standardization, and migrate from paper into the digital world," states Dr. Martin Hardwick, president and CEO of STEP Tools. "During the past fifteen years, the ISO (International Standards Organization) community has produced the groundwork for this revolution. We have successfully demonstrated machine tools driven by full fidelity STEP-NC data, and are in the process of deploying STEP-NC technology through Implementers programs. In order to take advantage of the tremendous benefits of STEP and STEP-NC (CNC independent control data), now is the time to begin the journey toward eManufacturing and automation."
For more technical details on ST-Developer, please visit www.steptools.com/products/stdev.
Dr. Martin Hardwick joined the ISO-STEP community of more than 200 data structure experts in Stuttgart, Germany on June 22 - 28, 2003 for their second meeting of the year. The meeting was focused on refining the definitions of the new STEP standards for CNC control, inspection and process planning. The new STEP standard for capturing the data input and results of CMM systems (AP-219) was approved as a New Work Item. All the ballot comments against the first draft of the high level process planning AP-240 were resolved.
The international STEP (Standard for Product Data Exchange) standard is maintained and advanced by this international team. STEP-NC is now rapidly moving toward draft standard status. The STEP Manufacturing team is comprised of highly technical industry professionals who deliberate top implementation issues such as the harmonization of Application Protocols.
STEP-NC ExplorerTM is the first-to-market viewing software for examining machining workplans and features, tool requirements, geometric dimensions and tolerances, and other information for STEP-NC feature-based machining. STEP-NC Explorer incorporates ST-Viewer technology for integrated graphics and rich visualization features. To sample the program's capabilities, STEP Tools provides a virtual tour at www.steptools.com/products/stncexplorer. For a limited time only, the program can be downloaded free of charge, and includes several sample test-drive data sets.
STEP-NC Explorer is not an ordinary run-of-the-mill CAD viewer. This program is a full bore interactive tool for dynamic viewing of full fidelity 3D manufacturing data compliant with ISO STEP standards. STEP-NC Explorer stages STEP-NC data produced with ST-Machine, STEP Tools' software program used to convert STEP-NC Machine independent data to machine specific tool paths. STEP-NC Explorer also works in tandem with ST-Plan, STEP Tools' software for creating machine independent, STEP-NC control files from STEP data. The new STEP-NC viewing program is compatible with wide variety of CAD/CAE/CAM systems, and can be used as a World Wide Web browser "plug in".
Manufacturers new to STEP-NC data and feature based machining will be able to thoroughly explore the machining process. STEP-NC Explorer gives users the ability to view all operations of a workpiece, each individual operation of the workpiece, and each individual operation of the machining operation. Users will be able to examine the Workplan of the job, as well as the individual Workplan and the Workingstep(s) of any machining operation. STEP-NC Explorer also gives the user the ability to inspect the tools for each workpiece and each individual machining operation. The program also views both the features and tolerances of the workpiece and each individual machining operation.
STEP Tools will work in cooperation with SoftInWay, Inc. (Burlington, MA) on a Phase One Research Program focused on the development of standards-based test cases and tools facilitating STEP data interoperability between CAE systems. SoftInWay recently received a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Grant from NIST (National Institute for Standards and Technology) to fund the effort. STEP Tools will serve as a subcontractor to SoftInWay, Inc. on this project, and has participated as the lead contractor for recent major contracts including a DoD (Department of Defense) SBIR Grant from the U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command, the Harvest project from the National Shipbuilding Research Program, and the Super Model Project supported by an Advanced Technology Program Award issued by NIST.
STEP Application Protocol AP209 supports the exchange of finite element analysis (FEA) models and analysis results. SoftInWay will develop the algorithms to calculate model quality metrics that are tied to the analysis model such as FEM model volume and free surface, total load, and total reaction force. STEP Tools will develop the algorithms and tools needed to validate the AP209 data for conformance to the STEP standard.
Dr. Martin Hardwick provides the STEP community with updates on late-breaking STEP, STEP-NC, and STEP Tools news from a technical viewpoint. Sign up for this free newsletter delivered to your desktop by visiting their home page at www.steptools.com.
STEP Tools has a comprehensive Pressroom accessible from the Home page. The online Pressroom has four easy-to-navigate areas: corporate information, press releases, media coverage, and an image section that hosts high-resolution graphics. Company location and directions can also be found at the site. We cordially invite you to visit our up-to-the-minute cyber pressroom at www.steptools.com/pressroom.
STEP Tools Resellers From Around the World
Resellers for STEP Tools products are available in the following geographical areas. Please contact us if you would like further information.
Simulog, Sophia Antipolis Cedex
Open Systems, Inc., Tokyo
Exartech International Corp., Taipei
Axon Technology, Taipei
INTEXS International, Virginia Beach VA
Logistics Pty Ltd., Victoria