Frequently Asked Questions

How will STEP-NC impact CNC systems?
STEP-NC will allow CNC systems to become more intelligent. Today, these systems are forced to be dumb because they are not given any information about the product and process. With STEP-NC they can be given much better information. In the near term, this change will make CNC systems easier and safer to use. In the longer term, the consequences may be dramatic because many new applications will be enabled by the new information.

What will happen to Post Processors?
Post processors will no longer be of concern to end-users. If they exist at all they will be buried inside the control as a way to translate the working steps in a STEP-NC program into the instruction codes understood by the CNC. No one will need to see these codes except under special circumstances just like no one typically sees the assembler code of a computer anymore.

How will STEP-NC impact CAM systems?
The change to STEP-NC represents an opportunity for CAM vendors to embed some of their functionality in Smart CNC systems, and makes their systems more flexible by allowing them to exchange data with other CAM systems.

How will STEP-NC impact CAD systems?
If the CAD system includes CAM functionality, then AP-238 will be a new output for creating data for CNC machines. If the CAD system does not include CAM functionality, then AP-203 edition 2, AP-214 and AP-224 will become more important outputs because downstream manufacturing needs to receive geometry data with tolerances and if possible with features as well.

How will STEP-NC impact planning systems?
AP-203 defines an interface for design. AP-238 defines an interface for manufacturing. Planning is an activity that occurs between design and manufacturing. Many enterprises use Computer Aided Process Planning (CAPP) systems. As AP-238 becomes more popular these systems will also become more popular and enterprises will want to define their input and outputs using STEP Application Protocols. AP-224 (part features) and AP-240 (process planning) are being defined to help with this activity. In the long term a CAD system will write AP-203 edition 2 or AP-224. A process planning system will read AP-224 and write AP-240. A CAM system will read AP-240 and write AP-238. A CNC system will read AP-238.