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MDSI Awarded Third U.S. Patent for its Machine Control Software

Innovative Design Streamlines Integration of Machine Control Technologies

ANN ARBOR, MI—Manufacturing Data Systems, Inc. (MDSI), the leader in software computer numerical control (CNC) and software motion technology, announced that it has been awarded a third patent for its foundation software technology that is the basis of the company's OpenCNC® software CNC and WinMotion® soft motion control products.

The patent, "Automatic variable linkage mechanism for integrating third-party software components," recognizes the core component of MDSI's Application Programming Interface (API) which allows unprecedented read/write access by third-party software developers. The technology was invented by Bruce E. Nourse, MDSI's chief technology officer.

This latest MDSI patent covers the architecture's single database and uniform access methodology, which, through a system of pointers and shared memory, allows outside programmers to read/write any variable in the MDSI software that has not been designated read-only. Furthermore, changes are automatically and immediately updated throughout the control—that is, throughout the soft CNC or soft motion, the soft PLC, the database, and any other third-party technology already integrated within the control—without recompiling. For programmers, it dramatically reduces programming times and simplifies integration of third-party programs.

With this invention, any hard real-time module can read or write any variable in the machine control environment in 5 to 10 nanoseconds.

This patented technology eliminates much of the effort required by other machine control products, where the motion, the PLC, and third-party programs are separate, proprietary hardware or software products, with separate databases, that not only require separate programming for integration of each one—but continue to require separate programming and integration efforts every time a variable changes in any component.

"Because we can never anticipate what a user may do with our software down the road," says Bruce E. Nourse, MDSI chief technology officer, "we chose to create a system that would be user extendable. In an industry where other controls require multiple databases and recompilation to make changes, we have created a single database with a uniform access method and automatic extensibility without recompiling. For us, this flexibility and ease of use is a continuation of MDSI's mission for true open architecture control."

"This is a broad-based patent that strengthens our position as a pioneer in machine control and factory automation," says James R. Fall, president and CEO, MDSI. "We're pleased that our push to open up control technology to optimize user accessibility, user choice, and machine performance—the focus that has marked our company from the beginning—has been recognized by the awarding of this and our two earlier patents."

MDSI's foundation manufacturing control software includes unbundled software CNC or soft motion, soft PLC, real-time database, and API in one integrated software package. In addition to the latest patent, the software also encompasses the processing of motion algorithms, the capture of real-time data, and the addition of separate job streams—components of the software recognized in earlier patents "Event feedback for numerically controlled machine tool and network implementation thereof" (1994) and "Method and apparatus for a numerical control system for processing multiple job streams" (1999).

Among numerous other technology innovations, MDSI became the first technology company in the industrial motion market to define and publish an open XML standard for the publication, exchange, and distribution of manufacturing data in XML (Extensible Mark-up Language) format in October, 2000.

About MDSI

Manufacturing Data Systems, Inc. supplies Internet-enabled, open-architecture 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 soft GMC and soft CNC products reduce machine tool control costs, increase productivity, extend the productive life of machine tools, and leverage the Internet for real-time data collection and remote diagnostics. Unlike traditional hardware or proprietary-based motion controls, MDSI's soft motion solutions use no proprietary hardware or motion control cards.

MDSI's foundation soft motion technology provides a common and open control across virtually any kind of machine tool—from gantry robot loaders to five-axis machine tools, and from transfer lines to semiconductor fabrication equipment.

MDSI's business strategy emphasizes technological and price/performance leadership, hardware independence and comprehensive customer-support. The company's customers, spanning many industries, include BAE Systems, Boeing, Briggs & Stratton, Caterpillar, Cessna Aircraft, Dana, Detroit Diesel, Emerson Electric, Flowserve, Ford Motor Company, General Electric, General Motors, Halliburton, Lockheed-Martin, 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, MDSI Motion, WinMotion, and eFactoryProfit 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.