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MDSI's New OpenCNC V4 Leverages Microsoft Visual Basic

New Patent-Pending Technology is Another First in the CNC Industry

ANN ARBOR, MI—Manufacturing Data Systems, Inc.™ (MDSI™), the industry leader in software CNCs, today announced the latest version of its software, OpenCNC® Version 4. New patent-pending technology in OpenCNC v4 will allow programmers—for the first time in the CNC industry—to create part program macros in a common and widely known programming language, Microsoft® Visual Basic®, as well as in Microsoft® Visual C++®. MDSI will introduce the new release at its booth at the WESTEC '99 Advanced Productivity Exposition, Los Angeles, March 22-25. The product will also be shown at Hannover Fair, April 19-24, in Germany.

In an industry where traditional CNC vendors still require programmers to learn obscure and proprietary programming languages for each separate CNC product, the integration of Visual Basic for macro programming into OpenCNC v4 leverages the existing knowledge and experience of over three million engineers already trained in Visual Basic. For programmers, it provides greater efficiency, more flexibility, and the ability to optimize machine cycle times. For manufacturing managers, OpenCNC v4 radically reduces engineering and programming training times.

Also in OpenCNC v4, new real–time diagnostics tools integrated into the software allow operators to perform PLC diagnostics not only at the machine tool itself—but also remotely, across an Ethernet network. This reduces the time and cost of diagnostics and troubleshooting—and also cuts control integration time.

OpenCNC v4 also introduces several new key pieces of technology. OpenEvents™ is a new tool that automatically analyzes and displays machine production and maintenance data. With OpenEvents, manufacturers can monitor machine performance continuously and make immediate changes to improve their manufacturing processes. The OpenEvents Job Manager organizes and distributes production information such as part programs, part drawings, process sheets, video instructions, or tool offsets for the machine operator. The OpenEvents Server is an application that provides enterprise access to the machine tool's Significant Events™, which are automatically captured by OpenCNC's real-time database.

In addition, OpenCNC v4, which runs on Microsoft® Windows NT®, includes an open Application Programming Interface (API) that allows third-party developers to build I/O device drivers, as well as integrate third-party software or create custom applications. In Version 4 MDSI also introduces the German language version of OpenCNC.

"Our goal is to continue to bring advanced technology to enhance manufacturer productivity and profitability," says James R. Fall, president, MDSI. "OpenCNC Version 4 shows the power of a software based control on Windows NT with an open API. We can provide ever–improving technologies to the market in a timely and cost–effective way."

As the only production-proven, unbundled software CNC on the market, OpenCNC has already revolutionized the CNC industry by proving that manufacturers can control a complete range of CNC machine tools entirely from software. Because it's unbundled software that runs on off-the-shelf PCs, manufacturers are not locked into proprietary arrangements for hardware, control repair, or control upgrades. Manufacturers can save up to 50% on the cost of retrofits, save on maintenance costs, and extend the productive life of aging machine tools.

About MDSI

Manufacturing Data Systems, Inc. supplies factory automation software and services that increase manufacturing flexibility and enable agile manufacturing. The company's primary product is OpenCNC, a software-based CNC control that reduces machine tool control costs and extends the productive life of machine tools. MDSI's business strategy emphasizes technological and price/performance leadership, hardware independence and comprehensive customer support. The company's customers, spanning virtually every industry, include Boeing, Caterpillar, Dana-Spicer, Detroit Diesel, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Lockheed–Martin, Marconi Precision Aerostructures, Tecumseh Products Company, Teledyne, Textron, and Vickers. Visit MDSI's Web site at

OpenCNC is a registered trademark of Manufacturing Data Systems, Inc. MDSI, the MDSI logo, Significant Events and OpenEvents are trademarks of Manufacturing Data Systems, Inc. Microsoft, Windows, Windows NT, Visual Basic, and Visual C++ are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the U.S. and/or other countries. All other brand or product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.