Is template technology the future of CAD/CAM?

    Interview with Harald Klieber: Head of Development Dr. Wolfgang Schinke discusses the future.

    With its template technology in Version 4.1, Tebis is launching the first CAD/CAM software that also excels in automating clamping.

    Dr. Schinke, my understanding is that Tebis has taken a major step towards full automation of the CAD/CAM process in the new Version 4.1. Does template technology represent the key to automating clamping, and can it also be used to optimize other steps?

    Template technology is a huge step forward for design, data preparation and NC programming. It's based on our philosophy that software for single-part manufacturing should be simple to use and highly automated. Our goal: Users should be able to plan, implement and easily manage all process steps for controlling a manufacturing cell with Tebis.

    How far are you from achieving that vision?

    We've already achieved a lot. For example, the digital twin with the resulting simulation in a nearly 100% real machine environment. And now we've integrated template technology, which makes clamping significantly easier. Just a few confirmation clicks are all that you need to precisely define and position the clamp. This enables the CAD part to be completed faster.

    What other automation is possible with template technology?

    Because of the skilled labor shortage and the increasing optimization of 24/7 manufacturing, the industry is now confronted with the task of digitalizing the expertise of machining experts – always with the goal of accelerating the NC programming processes. This is primarily because specialists aren’t available 24/7, but the spindles must keep turning. The increasing optimization of CAD/CAM automation prevents larger problems from ever occurring.
    A trend at Tebis is standardization: for example, color coding. This not only makes parts more straightforward, it also makes them more intelligent for programming.

    That sounds logical. But with the power of current CAD/CAM systems, aren't the machinists and programmers ultimately making themselves dependent on their software provider?

    A certain degree of binding is inevitable – as in many other areas of technology. This closeness actually has many advantages: To further improve the precision, depth and automation of the process, today's users have to automate many steps, and they benefit a lot from access to databases. If you wanted to manually implement functions like those provided by 4.1, it would take you hours or probably days just to enter the necessary geometry and process data. But with the right system, this can all be done very quickly, and it essentially becomes a standard mouse-click application. We took on a challenge from our customers at this year's Open House by programming their part data live on location. We were able to master all of the programming challenges in an impressively short time using 4.1.

    Is that because so much data is available, or is it because many intermediate steps are now automated and no longer have to be acknowledged?

    Both! We can automate most of the parts with just a few clicks following a standard procedure.

    So, what can the templates contribute to automation?

    Several things. For example, in a next step we'll be simplifying the template technology even more so it can be managed in databases.

    Does this mean that variant design will be even faster and easier in Tebis 4.2?

    We're not waiting for V4.2. The template technology is already very powerful. We’ll be giving our customers more extensions and improvements in the form of service packs or releases over the coming months. We’re also continuously reviewing our NC functions to simplify them wherever possible.

    Do you already have examples of this simplification?

    A highlight of NC program creation in 4.1 shows that Tebis takes residual stock and chips into account. Our residual stock technology is already currently based on collision avoidance strategies and high-quality blank updating. This enables the system to detect critical areas of parts long before the actual milling or turning operation. This technology also lends itself well to automation. As a matter of fact, high quality in blank updating is also essential in order to implement truly precise path curves and therefore geometries and surfaces. End-to-end updating and therefore the digital twin of the part plays a major role.

    So will the CAD/CAM process soon be running with absolutely no human intervention?

    It’s essential that the machine only generates good parts. We’ve already come very close to 24/7 fully automated production of parts in manufacturing. An example of a corresponding module is measurement on the machine. We’ve also automated this process: Every part can now be easily reworked on the machine after measurement. This is achieved by simply comparing the actual results with the set values.

    Much is already possible in NC programming. 

    The process for complex parts is somewhat different, and so far: A decision by the machinist is usually necessary. Does he or she want to generate the part by EDM, additive manufacturing, milling or turning – or by turn-milling? It will probably be a while before machines can fully simulate decision paths like this. Also: The more these questions can be resolved and defined during design, the less decision-making and automation are necessary in data preparation.

    And in that regard, we're already headed in the direction of machine learning.

    Yes. Of course, machine learning and artificial intelligence are exciting future topics for us. And in the near future, maybe the software will even be deciding which technology to use on the machine.
    Dr. Wolfgang Schinke, Tebis AG Head of Development
    Interview with Harald Klieber.
    Published in e-magazine NCFertigung 2022