Jeff's MCAD Blogging
Jeffrey Rowe has more than 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the … More »
ESPRIT CAM Software: Smart Machining From The Cloud To The Manufacturing Floor
May 9th, 2018 by Jeff Rowe
DP Technology and its ESPRIT CAM System deliver a wide range of machining solutions for Industry 4.0 smart manufacturing.
DP Technology Corp is a privately held company co-founded in 1982 by Daniel Frayssinet and Paul Ricard. The company gets its name from the first names of the co-founders – (D)an and (P)aul. The company’s corporate headquarters is in Camarillo, California. The rest of the company is structured by function with offices in France, Germany, India, Italy, China, and Japan.
DP Technology is the developer of the diverse ESPRIT CAM System sold and supported via the company’s regional offices and its network of resellers around the world. ESPRIT has also developed close partnerships with several leading milling, turning, and wire-EDM machine tool manufacturers, including Okuma, Mazak, DMG Mori, Citizen, STAR, Mitsubishi, GF AgiCharmilles, Doosan, and Tsugami, just to name a few.
ESPRIT literally gets its name from the French noun, esprit de corps, that translates to spirit of a body of persons or group spirit; sense of pride, honor, etc. shared by those in the same group or undertaking.
DP Technology develops CAM software for a full range of machine tool applications. ESPRIT CAM, DP Technology’s flagship product line, is a full-spectrum programming system for milling, turning, wire EDM, and multitasking machine tools. ESPRIT’s data exchange functionality reads data from most native formats, including Autodesk Inventor, CATIA, SOLIDWORKS, Solid Edge, NX, ACIS, and Pro/ENGINEER (Creo). DP Technology also provides complementary add-ins for several CAD programs.
DP Technology continually reinforces its commitment to its technology and customers by dedicating approximately 25% of its annual revenues to ongoing product research and development. According to Don Davies, VP of Americas, DP Technology Corp., the company also has what he called “shadow R&D,” who are application engineers in the field developing post processors and simulation solutions with machine tool OEMs and dealers.
Don Davies, VP of Americas, DP Technology Corp. at SOLIDWORKS World 2018
When asked about the state of the CAM market, Davies said that it is largely fragmented into distinct segments – integrated CAD/CAM vendors, such as Dassault Systemes, PTC, and Siemens PLM Software; and independent CAM vendors, such as DP Technology, Mastercam, and other VAR-based dealers. He said each has its own advantages but thought that the dedicated efforts that independent companies specializing in CAM bring the most to the table, and obviously, he felt that DP Technology had the ability to serve up the most comprehensive product/technology lineup in the competitive CAM market.
DP Technology is helping manufacturers prepare for the digital transformation that’s taking place in manufacturing, with solutions including digital twinning, digital threads, machine-aware manufacturing, knowledge-based machining, and cloud-enabled databases.
To prepare manufacturers for an increasingly digital future, and to better support Industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing initiatives, DP Technology is focusing on a range of solutions to drive automation in manufacturing. The ESPRIT CAM System enables manufacturers to streamline workflows, prevent silos from forming during the manufacturing process, increase tool life and machine utilization, and create greater access to practical knowledge for process improvement.
Program Any Machine Tool, Machine Any Part Geometry
The company says that its ESPRIT CAM System provides programming for virtually any CNC machine tool. ESPRIT’s full-spectrum functionality includes programming for multi-axis milling, turning, and wire EDM; multitasking mill-turn machines; B-axis machine tools; and swiss machines. The company also claims that its ESPRIT system is valued by CNC programmers for its extensive suite of machining cycles, comprehensive tool control, and capacity to fully support an entire shop.
ESPRIT’s CAD-to-CAM interface directly imports just about any native part model from any source, fully intact, with no need for programmers to edit or rebuild geometry. ESPRIT directly machines from any combination of geometries — solids, surfaces, wireframe, or STL. Starting with complete and accurate part geometry can eliminate nearly all the difficulty in programming complicated parts and can dramatically reduce programming time. These all add up to huge time savers, because CAM can be quite a bit different than CAD, and machine programming is often more practiced art than learned science.
Don Davies, VP of Americas, DP Technology Corp. at SOLIDWORKS World 2017
Another vital part of the CAM puzzle is ESPRIT’s universal post processor that creates the G-code needed to fully exploit any machine tool. ESPRIT provides out-of-the-box operation with a complete library of pre-defined post processors. Additional factory-certified post processors are available for most leading machine tool brands, and ESPRIT’s open architecture lets you adjust any post processor to suit your personal preferences and shop floor requirements.
Davies said, “Post processors are absolutely huge because these are the machine tool drivers, analogous to printer drivers. They are vital for CAM systems to work effectively and are essential for productivity and error-free machining. They must hand shake with ESPRIT’s simulation environment. As far as NC code generation is concerned, users often expect and need code to be edited, but this is dysfunctional and, ultimately, shouldn’t have to be done. Our target is to always make sure that the NC Code coming out of ESPRIT requires zero editing. We spend a tremendous amount time and effort toward achieving that goal, and there is a lot of R&D going on in the field to write post processors.’’
Dynamic Solid Simulation and Verification
As big a deal as simulation and verification are in the CAD world, these abilities are just as important in the CAM world, as well – in some cases more important because machine tools, cutting tools and stock material are expensive items. ESPRIT’s dynamic solid verification eliminates the need for expensive dry runs on an NC machine. Machining processes have a higher probability of succeeding because you can compare accurately rendered “as designed” versus “as machined” parts. ESPRIT’s real-time simulation and comprehensive collision detection ensure that even the most complex of parts will be machined correctly the first time.
ESPRIT CAM MillTurn and 5-Axis Machining Provide Comprehensive Simulation of the Machine Tool Environment
ESPRIT provides verification information of a part program simulated within a complete machining environment, including elements, such as machine tool, fixtures, clamps, stock, and workpiece. This ability to simulate and verify minimizes downtime, maximizes manufacturing efficiency, and cuts machining costs while validating comprehensive machining processes.
Cloud-Enabled CAM and Smart Manufacturing
Davies said that cloud-enabled CAM is going in many directions, but handshaking with the cloud and the data that’s out there, along with ability to deal with BIG data is absolutely essential for success.
ESPRIT can create a digital twin of machine tools for programming, optimization, and simulation. This virtual machine ensures that whatever happens on screen will also occur on the shop floor. Workpieces and cutting tools are set up virtually, resulting in exacting simulations, greater productivity and better toolpaths for higher quality parts.
With ESPRIT, a digital thread ties together each step of the workflow from CAD design to finished part, ensuring that none of the manufacturing process is siloed. ESPRIT reads part data from CAD software and creates machine-optimized G-code and setup sheets, which it then passes on to shop floor management, tool data management, and enterprise resource planning software.
To further reinforce cloud-enabled CAM, DP Technology has partnered with, MachiningCloud Inc., an independent provider of CNC cutting tool and work holding product data, and is a single source of access to the most current product data from a wide variety of suppliers, such as Kennametal and Ingersoll. Davies said that MachiningCloud is similar to iTunes for downloading 3D digital components. The MC app allows you to quickly filter the digitized tooling and holder data along with all their detailed components very quickly, streamlining the process of developing tool lists for process planning. This is compared to historically wading through multiple catalogs to find this data and the hours to days long process. This digital data can not only be used for process planning, but can be imported directly into ESPRIT for simulation purposes. Additionally, feeds and speeds data defined by the vendor can also be utilized.
As shops move to data-driven manufacturing, integration with cloud-based databases, such as MachiningCloud Inc., further facilitates access to knowledge, product data, resources and process controls for machines, cutting tools and work holding. These cloud-enabled databases suggest factory-recommended feeds and speeds for a given cut, for quickly finding the tools needed, and provide continuously updated manufacturer product data, including drawings and models of tools and cutting tool assemblies for simulation. Because information is stored in the cloud, it is always up to date, available on demand, and can be accessed anywhere.
The ability to create digital/virtual environments that mimic the real world to quickly create process plans and simulate complex machines is the reality of today’s CAM. Not surprisingly, Davies predicts VR inside of CAM systems in the not too distant future, which is an extension of cloud-enabled CAM.
ESPRIT and MachiningCloud have a close relationship promoting Smart Manufacturing/Industrie 4.0 through their adherence to Industrie 4.0 principles, including interoperability, virtualization, decentralization, connectivity, the Internet of Things (IoT), and dealing with and handling big data.
ESPRIT Helps Customer Metri-Tech Engineering Succeed
KnowlegeBase Leverages More Than Just Knowledge
ESPRIT can provide an extensive KnowledgeBase that leverages a shop’s most important strategic assets — its best machining practices developed over the years — for maximized productivity and competitiveness. ESPRIT’s KnowledgeBase provides a “push-button” approach for any programmer or operator for determining the best method to machine a given part or feature by automatically selecting the most appropriate machining cycles, cutting tools, and machining parameters. The KnowledgeBase frees CNC programmers from repetitive part programming, letting them focus on strategic process planning to further improve best practices by quickly recognizing and setting up rules for automating machining.
With ESPRIT’s KnowledgeBase, process-specific information is stored securely and is readily available to any operator or programmer. ESPRIT uses the accumulated “knowledge” of a shop’s best practices and preferred methods to automate CNC programming. The multi-user SQL database built into ESPRIT’s KnowledgeBase provides a central repository for accumulating shop-wide machining experiences.
Knowledge-based machining, the term for artificial intelligence built directly into a CAM system, makes it possible to significantly cut programming time by capturing best practices, including machining processes and cutting conditions — leaving more time to focus on strategic process improvements and reducing time spent on repetitive tasks. ESPRIT’s KnowledgeBase™ solution streamlines part programming by automatically selecting the optimum processes — machining cycles, tools and conditions — for part features based on proven best practices. Recording practical knowledge via KnowledgeBase™ is more reliable than leaving it to memory and allows for higher levels of automation through repeatable steps. Because programming is more predictable and consistent, programmers encounter fewer problems and produce higher quality parts.
The Process KnowledgeBase provides detailed tool control and extensive process automation, automatically choosing the most suitable process to machine a given feature — including machining cycles, cutting tools, speeds and feeds, and all associated machining parameters. When a process is applied, process steps are automatically adjusted to accommodate the feature geometry and other feature characteristics. Programmers can also create new processes and update details of existing processes with the Process Manager. All machining parameters are presented in a clear visual representation of each parameter’s source and condition.
ESPRIT’s Automated Feature Recognition is a KnowledgeBase component providing CNC programmers with a new level of productivity-enhancing speed and accuracy. Automated Feature Recognition subdivides a given part into features like pockets, slots, shoulders, and holes. Each feature has a set of known physical characteristics including height, thickness, draft, volume, and area. This KnowledgeBase component automatically categorizes these features into feature cases based on a shop’s standards, terminology, and each feature’s characteristics.
ESPRIT provides machine-aware CAM programming to increase tool life and reduce cycle times. The CAM system’s ProfitMilling and ProfitTurning apps represent a fundamental change in the way toolpaths are created. Most CAM software works from the shape of the part first and considers the machine last, if at all. ESPRIT machine-aware solutions first consider the machine tool – its axes positions and their limits, acceleration, and attainable and requested cutting speeds, allowing users to run machines faster, get a better surface finish on their parts and significantly increase their tool life. As a result, with machine-aware CAM, programmers make better choices regarding toolpath, without asking the machine tool or cutting tool to exceed their own abilities, especially with super alloys.
Differentiators and CAM Trends
Davies said that DP Technology is a very CAM-centric company whose primary competitive differentiator is the level of support it provides its customers. The company’s goal is to get back to customers on support calls in 30 minutes or less. Also, all support staff receive broad CAM product and process education and rotate between various roles, such as support, teaching, development, and on-site experience, to facilitate their overall education. Additionally, plans call for doubling the size of the U.S. organization in the near future.
Davies said that ESPRIT essentially functions as a CAM operating system or platform that lends itself to automating the CAD-to-NC process. ESPRIT also accommodates families of parts that provide a better way to quickly program machines because it recognizes part features defined in CAD’s product manufacturing information (PMI), thus streamlining programming and machine setups.
With regard to CAM trends, beyond the ability to handle multi-axis and multi-turret machines, as well as continuing improved ability to deal with BIG data, Davies says he sees continued CAM industry consolidation that scares end users due to their CAM investments. Since machines are such a huge investment, they need and are expected to be able to hold tolerances for 20+ years. So, in his view, a comprehensive software family from one vendor that is able to function across a wide range of machines and processes for the long term is a panacea and one that DP Technology can fulfill.
DP Technology and its ESPRIT product line seem well positioned as machine tools and processes are getting more complex, and DP Technology is helping its customers to get the most out of them. Davies summed up what the company is all about when he said, “We make NC code that just works.” Simple and well put for a company that is on the forefront of CAM technology, both today and into the future.
For More Information: ESPRIT CAM Software
Editor’s Note: DP Technology’s technical conference, ESPIRIT World 2018, is right around the corner. This year’s theme is “Driving Automation In Manufacturing,” and the conference is being held in Indianapolis, IN from June 11-15. Major sponsors include DMG Mori, ANSYS SpaceClaim, GCTech Vericut, ZOLLER, and FANUC.