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Forum topic by Stuart Kent posted 10-16-2015 12:38 PM 598 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Stuart Kent

7 posts in 418 days


10-16-2015 12:38 PM

I have an older Busellato machining center that was used for cabinetmaking. The machine was taken offline when we purchased our Northwood, and has been in storage ever since. From a physical machine perspective it has a full compliment of tooling in good condition and no significant maintenance needs beyond lubrication and general ‘out-of-storage’ stuff. This machine is truly a workhorse, overbuilt in every way and extremely well equipped. It features a rotating linear ripping saw, bidirectional horizontal boring, multi-spindle shelf pin boring (which can be adapted to any vertical boring operation), and all of that works in support of the main 3 axis routing functions.

I want to explore the possibility of completely changing the controller so I can adapt the machine for furniture making and CNC classes at The North Carolina Furniture School. I have seen clever hacks for similar machines, where people overcame outdated controllers and software with low cost solutions – BUT – that kind of computer expertise is totally beyond my abilities and information seems sparse on this kind of stuff. From a software perspective I have most of what is required for this machine to be made current – all current AutoCad, Fusion, etc. as well as Cabinet Vision Screen to Machine.

So with a machine that features the very best quality servos, spindles, bearings, electronics, etc. I think there has to be a low or no cost solution to wake this thing up and welcome it back to life without dumping tons of money into it.

Am I dreaming or is this possible?

-- Stuart Kent, Founding Director of the North Carolina Furniture School. stuart@ncfurnitureschool.com


3 replies so far

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oldnovice

5729 posts in 2831 days


#1 posted 10-17-2015 07:39 AM

I would suggest a good PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) as opposed to a PC.

A PLC is virtually “bullet proof” when compared to a PC because it is impervious to malicious software while providing all the requirements of a CNC controller in a physically small package.

A PLC is a dedicated controller in that it’s task is to control whatever is required, not do word processing, spreadsheets, email, and so forth. It can be connected to the Internet (wired/wireless), can be interfaced to a standard video or touch panels or pilot lights with push buttons or your PC (lap top or other) or your smart phone if desired.

I know of PLCs that have been in operation for over 30 years, 24/7, without a problem! I programmed PLCs for a number of years and anything a PC can a PLC can do with extremely fast power up and no need for continuous downloaded patches.

The Laguna CNCs use a Behr PLC and most, if not all, professional CNCs all use PLCs.

I have seen tiny PLCs, smaller than package of cigarettes to large multi-rack (19”/rack) ones, controlling things like elevators to engine/transmission assembly lines where they tightened engine crank shafts bolts to specific torque levels … I could go on but it might serve you better to check for yourself as to the capability of a PLC.

One of my very old friend replaced all mechanical relays in 16 feet of racks with a PLC in one rack. The machine was very old but the mechanics were in extremely good condition. The original manufacturer would not upgrade the controls (would rather sell a new one) even though the mechanics were in near perfect working order.

Just Google PLC applications or Allen Bradley or Siemens or Automation Direct to see what these things can do!

You can PM me for more information if so desired!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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oldnovice

5729 posts in 2831 days


#2 posted 10-17-2015 06:17 PM

A couple of added notes about the PLC!

  • Some of PLCs can be programmed with different languages, for example IEC 61131-3 supports 5 languages, and the selection of langauge can be changed during the programming; i.e. one section could be done in Ladder Diagram (LD) while another is done in Structured Text (ST, a BASIC like language), while another section is done in Function Block (FBD).
    Programers, and users, have driven the proprietary programing panels/tools out of the market so today the PC is the main development/debug tool.
  • A PLC will typically have modular I/O to reduce the real world interfacing issues associated with a PC. The number of inputs and outputs required are determined by the machine/system to be controlled and the I/O is installed accordingly. For example a 3 axis CNC will need at least three stepper motor, or similar, outputs modules. Fortunately, the PLC market is very mature so the variety of I/O is merely a selection as opposed to a design decision.
  • Control programming, whether PC or PLC, is not a trivial task! A programming mistake can damage the mechanics being controlled or, worse, cause injury.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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Stuart Kent

7 posts in 418 days


#3 posted 10-18-2015 01:35 PM

Hey guys, thank you. We are evaluating our options now and will definitely be looking at PLC. Please stay tuned, I will post things as they develop.

-- Stuart Kent, Founding Director of the North Carolina Furniture School. stuart@ncfurnitureschool.com

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