Model Driven Intelligent Control of Manufacturing
|| STEP Tools,
|Project Duration and Cost:
- ATP funding
- STEP Tools,
Inc. cost-share amount: $0.85M
|Status Report of the Completed Project:
manufacturing design is now largely performed with sophisticated
computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) systems,
control of the machine tools that actually produce the parts
is comparatively primitive. Martin Hardwick, a professor of computer
science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY founded
STEP Tools, Inc., with the business mission of utilizing STEP1 standards
to bring design data directly into the machining process on the
factory floor. In
1999, NIST's Advanced Technology Program (ATP) funded STEP Tools,
Inc., to develop a software environment for intelligent manufacturing
that integrated information across the manufacturing process
and supported the flexible use of machine tools.
|Technical and Economic Impacts
The end result of the ATP project was STEP-NC, an Internet-ready,
integrated design and manufacturing database used to convey information
throughout the company and supply chain.
In 2001, Industry
touted STEP Tools, Inc. stating, “Martin
Hardwick presented an innovation that promises to change
the economics of NC (numerical controls) machining forever.”2 And
in fact, STEP Tools., Inc. realized this promise. In
December 2003, it won the prestigious Industry Week 2003
Technology of the Year Award as part of their 11th Annual
Technology and Innovation Awards Program.
The award recognizes the technical achievements that drove this
Tools, Inc. extended the research prototype into
the STEP-NC Explorer product for generating machining
work plans from CAD/CAM data.
- STEP-NC provides significant savings to manufacturers:
- 35% reduction in the time required for a job shop to
set up a machining job
- 75% reduction in the time required for an OEM to prepare
data for a supplier
- 50% reduction in machining time
- Elimination of significant post-processing effort
- Safer more adaptable tools
The innovations are achieving commercial success as well in many
different manufacturing areas.
- Customers of STEP Tools include Unigraphics Solutions, CADKEY
Corporation, Bentley Microstation, Integraph, Alibre, SGI
Alias Wavefront, Bridgeport Controls, Tecnomatix and Boeing
- In October
2003, the U.S. Army’s Waterlivet Arsenal
(Waterlivet, NY, the American military’s oldest manufacturing
arsenal) awarded a contract for the first military implementation
of this technology.
for the Exchange of Product (STEP) Model Data, a protocol developed by the International
Organization for Standardization. It is a global standard used by manufacturers
such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Motors, and Pratt &Whitney.
Week, March 5, 2001.
Date created: June
November 29, 2006