SOFTWARE AND LASER CONTROL IS CRITICAL
When faced with a new potential project or application, laser micro- processing and micro- machining system inte- grators and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can often provide a proof-of-concept demonstration on a “demo machine” with relatively little time and
effort. However, once interest by the client(s) is shown, the difficult process of turning proof-of-concept into a robust machine
solution begins, often dictated by a very aggressive schedule.
Delivering laser pulses to the workpiece with a high degree
of accuracy and repeatability, along with developing and maintaining the human machine interface (HMI) software, are among
the most complex and resource-intensive efforts associated
with this process. As these efforts involve a variety of technologies and disciplines, there are many challenges to solve.
Thanks to new motion/computer numerical control (CNC)
technologies in the marketplace, such as customizable HMI
development platforms, advanced motion performance optimization features, and the laser control module, many of the
aforementioned challenges are solved in an out-of-the-box
manner. This allows the machine developer to minimize com-
plexity and bring a machine to market faster, with improved
Laser micromachining/microprocessing HMI software is a
critical component or subsystem of the machine, and typically
falls into one of two classifications. One is a CNC-style HMI
that imports and executes machine code programs (typically
G-code) created by a computer-aided manufacturing (CAM)
software post-processor. The other is an “integrated graphical” HMI that allows import and manipulation of CAD files,
and provides integrated CAM/post processing functionality.
Some motion and CNC controller companies now offer cus-
tomizable HMI development platforms for both types of HMIs.
This allows a system integrator or OEM to take a new, less-re-
source-intensive approach to developing and maintaining their
HMI software: building the HMI appli-
cation with a customizable platform.
Many laser micromachining and micro-
processing systems are used in a
machining or manufacturing environ-
ment alongside other traditional CNC machines, such as lathes,
mills, and routers. Having commonality between the laser system HMI and the HMIs of the other machines is beneficial to the
manufacturer, as it leverages existing knowledge and experience of the manufacturer’s machinists and technicians.
A customizable CNC HMI development platform can be
expected to provide many standard HMI features out of the
• The ability to load, edit, and execute NC files with Standard
RS-274 and user-defined G-codes (FIGURE 1);
• Flexible CNC program flow control options such as stop,
hold, abort, single-block run, block skip, and feed-rate hold;
• Real-time monitoring of program execution, axis positions,
feed rates, G-code modality, alarms, and faults; and
• Multi-tiered user access login screens for operators, tech-
nicians, developers, and administrators.
The platform also solves many challenges associated with
integration of the HMI host application and the motion/CNC
controller, as it optimizes NC program download, compilation,
and execution time; manages G-code modality to support
FIGURE 1. An
Motion control improves accura
repeatability in laser