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From CNC to B2B: MDSI's New OpenCNC V5.1 Streamlines Manufacturing for the Internet

New MDSI Programming Functionality unmatched anywhere in CNC, PLC, or General Motion Industries

ANN ARBOR, MI—Manufacturing Data Systems, Inc. (MDSI), consistently the leader in software CNC and software motion control technology, streamlines manufacturing for the Internet age with the latest release of its product, OpenCNC® software Version 5.1. OpenCNC Version 5.1 introduces groundbreaking new technology that gives manufacturing engineers, for the first time, the ability to modify their standard NC part programs to capture and send data—without requiring outside or network integrators, expensive hardware add-ons, or machine downtimes. And, these NC program modifications can be made on the CAD/CAM workstation in the engineering office. This "smart" part programming technology—which is unmatched anywhere in the CNC, PLC or general motion industries—closes the loop from CAD/CAM to CNC to ERP production planning systems.

Never before in any other CNC system has it been possible to use a standard NC part program to trigger the collection and distribution of data from a CNC. With OpenCNC V5.1, manufacturing engineers can insert statements directly into their standard NC part programs that request production data to be pushed from OpenCNC to an ERP production planning program or back to the manufacturing engineer for analysis. This new MDSI technology provides unprecedented levels of integration between CAD/CAM and ERP/planning systems—and dramatic improvements in efficiencies in programming, exporting of data, and integration of CAD/CAM with the CNC. By allowing the NC part program to access the OpenCNC data stream, Version 5.1 enables global B2B for manufacturing from the heart of a CNC machine tool.

The new feature, which uses Microsoft® Visual Basic® scripting Edition (VBscript), along with OpenCNC’s patented real-time data collection and all-software architecture, enables companies to complete the supply chain/information loop from machine tool to factory network to company intranet to Internet—without expensive hardware add-ons, machine downtimes, or outside or network integrators.

The new technology is useful for maintenance, quality, and production planning, as in the following examples:

  • Maintenance — The NC program could be edited to send an e–mail automatically to Maintenance or the manufacturing engineer whenever fault conditions critical to the production process are triggered on the machine tool
  • Quality — Probing/inspection data can be collected, then transmitted to a SQL or Oracle database for ISO9000 tracking
  • Production Planning — The NC program could be amended to trigger a command to send process times and part completions directly to MES or ERP applications

"MDSI continues to lead the industry in providing software CNC and soft motion technology that increases the productivity of machine tools," says James R. Fall, president and CEO, MDSI. "We’ve created foundation technology for B2B e-commerce by providing real-time production and process information automatically from the machine tool."

Other technology developments in Version 5.1

OpenCNC Version 5.1 also introduces several other technology advances, including:

  • Rigid tapping #&151; Two styles of rigid tapping are available, one for new machines with positioning servo spindles; and the other, a unique "soft" rigid tapping feature that allows older machine tools with non–positioning servo spindles to be cost–effectively retrofitted for rigid tapping.
  • Support of SST DeviceNet I/O
  • Control of analog spindles via Profibus or DeviceNet
  • Pound variables for NC macro programming

"OpenCNC has created a new marketplace by changing the rules," Fall says. "With a CNC technology that is open and has the ability to unlock the machine tool, the machine tool becomes the enabler of Internet business–to–business development."

Designed from the beginning to be open, all–software, Internet–enabled and B2B–ready, OpenCNC software is leading–edge foundation technology for CNC and motion control for the Internet age. In an industry dominated by proprietary hardware CNC solutions, MDSI has already proven that high-end, multi-axis CNC machine tools can be controlled entirely from software—without any motion control cards, proprietary hardware, or embedded firmware. The software provides a common control technology across a full range of machine tools: single– and dual-turret lathes, single– and multi–spindle precision drills, routers, mills, grinders, gear hobs, dial index machines, and gantry machines—all from a single operating system, Microsoft® Windows NT®, running from a single processor.

About MDSI

Manufacturing Data Systems, Inc. supplies web-based shrink-wrapped software motion control applications that increase manufacturing flexibility and enable agile manufacturing for the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) and General Motion Control (GMC) markets. The company's primary product, OpenCNC software, is a software CNC that reduces machine tool control costs, increases productivity, extends the productive life of machine tools, and leverages the Internet for real-time data collection and remote diagnostics. Unlike traditional CNC controls, OpenCNC uses no proprietary hardware or motion control cards. For more information, visit MDSI's web site at

MDSI's business strategy emphasizes technological and price/performance leadership, hardware independence and comprehensive customer-support. The company's customers, spanning many industries, include Boeing, Caterpillar, Cessna Aircraft, Dana, Detroit Diesel, Emerson Electric, Ford Motor Company, General Electric, General Motors, Lockheed-Martin, Marconi Precision Aerostructures, Tecumseh Products Company, Teledyne, Textron, and Vickers. For more information, visit MDSI's web site at

MDSI, the MDSI logo, and OpenCNC are registered trademarks of Manufacturing Data Systems, Inc. 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.