Views:

What can I expect in the development of my new MTM post processor?

MTM post processors are complicated. The development of the post usually involves extensive interaction and testing between the developer and customer. Often the manufacturer or machine tool dealer is consulted as well. It is not unusual for the process (from initial research to completed post processor) to take several months to complete.

Here are the steps you can expect to go through during the development of your post processor. The section near the bottom of the article titled "What can I do to expedite this process?" offers some handy tips.

Initial Research

A Gibbs MTM researcher will contact you and provide you with a detailed questionnaire for each different MTM machine being developed. You will also be asked to provide:

  • Sample programs
  • Manual (will be returned)
  • Contact information for the machine tool distributor/manufacturer

Good sample programs are essential. Sample programs should contain examples of all important cycles, functions, and tool changes. This may include tool changers, parts catchers, bar feeders, tail stock and others.

If you are not expert with your MTM machine (and many customers are not), the Gibbs MTM researcher will obtain information from the machine tool reseller and/or the machine tool builder. If you introduce our developer to the proper contacts it will often reduce the time needed to collect this information.

The researcher will review your MTM questionnaire with you explaining your customization choices, commenting on your selections, and recommending those functions that Gibbs has found users to need. Many new users are not yet expert in the use of GibbsCAM and can use this review to make the best choices.

The completion of this stage is usually the beginning of the post processor development. Generally the information gathered here enables a developer to start development of the post and very little can be done prior to collecting this information and related materials.

Post Processor Development

The task of building your MTM Post Package will be assigned to a Gibbs MTM post developer. It will undergo a review with the post developer, the MTM researcher, and the MTM product manager, to ensure that the GibbsCAM MTM capabilities will properly support the customer’s desires for the posted output and the use of the machine.

A first iteration of the post processor is developed and delivered to the customer. The development of this first version of the post generally takes 4-6 weeks after it is assigned to the developer.

Review/test the MTM Post Package provided

This is a critical and necessary step and requires the assistance of the customer. Most MTM Posts will require additional edit/review cycles. At this point you should receive a zip file containing:

  • Post processor
  • VMM
  • MDD
  • MTM Delivery Form (important information about the use of your post)

After reviewing the post you will need to communicate the changes needed back to our post processor development department. This is a stage where you can really reduce the time it will take to implement your changes. Through experience we have found the most efficient method for communicating changes is to open your G-code (.NCF) file in Microsoft Word, turn on Track Changes (in the Tools menu) allowing us to readily identify what changes you make and edit your desired changes into the NCF file. Changes should be e-mailed to posts@gibbscam.com.

Gibbs makes the corrections and returns the updated MTM Post Package to you. This review and test cycle repeats until you are satisfied, normally 2 or 3 times. If an error is found at some later date, it will be corrected at no charge

What can I do to expedite this process

  1. Provide the manuals and sample programs described in the Initial Research section above as soon as possible.
  2. Schedule time for the post reviews. Our developers can generally make appointments and work around your schedule.
  3. Try to communicate your changes or ideas via e-mail. Communicating changes and/or problems in this manner allows you to include files and/or images that illustrate your issue. The written record also helps to reduce misunderstandings.
  4. It can be difficult with a new machine but if it is at all possible try to anticipate how you intend to run the machine. Adding functionality or changing how things will be done can significantly delay the production of a post. However, we understand this is not always possible and will work with you to facilitate your needs.
  5. Help the MTM researcher to get in contact with your machine tool distributor. If there is a contact who is more familiar with the technical operation of the machine this would be a good contact to introduce to the researcher.
  6. If you received brochures or technical publications from the manufacturer include this material with the materials you send in. Often there are clearance values, tolerances and travel limits in this documentation that can otherwise be difficult to locate.