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Unit 1

Numerical Control:
Basic concepts
NC components
Point to point and controlling concepts
Axis standards
Programme control

Machine tool - Historical developments and
their role in control of machine tools

History of Machine Tools

• Began during stone age (<50,000 years ago)

– Hand tools of wood, animal bones, or stone
• Bronze age (4500 to 4000 B.C.)
– Copper and bronze implements
– Power-operated (animal power)
• Iron age (1000 B.C.)
– Iron replaced bronze
– Domesticated animals provided power
– Commodities hand made by skilled crafts people

History of Machine Tools
• Machine age (~300 years ago)
– Explored new sources of energy (water)
• Industrial age began when James Watt produced
first steam engine (1776)
– Steam engine provided power to other areas
– Machines improved
• Steam/steel in ships, railroads, steam tractors
• New power – electricity produced by generators
• Diesel and gasoline engines

History of Machine Tools
• Progress continued slowly during first part of 20th
– Spurts during the two world wars
• Since 1950s, progress rapid
• Now in space age
– Atom harnessed: nuclear power
– Journey to moon and outer space
– Calculators, computers, robots common place
– Can mass produce parts to millionths of an inch

History of Machine Tools

NC History
– 1725-Knitting machine in England used punched cards
to form various patterns in cloth.

– 1863- The first player piano was patented, it used

punched paper rolls, through which air passed to
automatically control the order in which the keys were

– 1947 – The US Air Force found that the complex

design and shapes of aircraft parts such as helicopter
rotor blades and missiles components were causing
problems for manufacturers.
– 1949 - US Air material Command awarded Parsons
a contract to develop NC and in turn sped up
production methods.

– 1952 - Parsons subcontracted this study to

Servomechanism Laboratory of Massachusetts
Institute of Technology (MIT) who builds the
machine for the project.

– 1960 - Over 100 NC machines were displayed at the

Machine Tool Show in Chicago.

– 1980 - CNC machines (computer used to link

directly to controller)

– 1990 - DNC: external computer control
programmer to machine tool controller

– 1997 - PC- Windows/NT based “Open Modular

Architecture Control (OMAC)” systems introduced
to operate NC machines.

– Improvements in electronics & solid-state devices

reduced size of control units and increased

• Numerical Control
– Basic concepts
– Need of NC Machine tools

Numerical Control (NC) Defined

• EIA (Electronic Industries Association, USA) defines NC

as ‘A system in which the actions are controlled by
direct insertion of numerical data at some point. The
system must automatically interpret at least some
portion of the data’.

• Programmable automation in which the mechanical

actions of a ‘machine tool’ are controlled by a program
containing coded alphanumeric data that represents
relative positions between a work head (e.g., cutting
tool) and a work part.
•A numerical control, or “NC”, system controls many
machine functions and movements which were
traditionally performed by skilled machinists.
•Numerical control developed out of the need to meet the
requirements of high production rates, uniformity and
consistent part quality.
•Programmed instructions are converted into output
signals which in turn control machine operations such as
spindle speeds, tool selection, tool movement, and
cutting fluid flow.

Schematic of an NC machine tool
Program Machine
Instructions Control Unit



Schematic of an NC machine tool
• MCU – machine control unit
– Controls the motion of the NC machine tool.
• DPU – data processing unit
– Reads and interprets the part program; sends immediate commands
to CLU.
• CLU – control loop unit
– Reads positions sensors and sends control signals to motors.

Applications of NC

Chip producing machines: Drills, Mills, Lathes, Bores, Saws, Etc.

Chipless machining: Flame Cutting, Punches, Wire EDM, Welding,
Non machining: Paint Spraying, Tube Bending, Assembly, Etc.

NC used to

1) Position cutter (move table)

2) Change tooling
3) Adjust coolant flow (flood/mist-on/off)
4) Adjust spindle speeds
5) Perform operations at a point (plunge, tap, bore, etc.)

• NC machines have been found quite suitable where:
– The components have complex shapes.
– The parts are to be made in small batches.
– Set-ups are numerous and costly.
– A repetition of close tolerances/accuracy is
– The parts are subjected to design changes.
– The inspection cost is a significant portion of the
total cost.

NC components


A typical NC system consists of the following six


• Part program
• Program input device
• Machine control unit
• Drive system
• Machine tool
• Feedback system

NC Components

NC Components: Part Program
• It is an important software element in the NC
manufacturing system.
• It is the plan proposed for machining the part .
• It is written by keeping in view various standard words,
codes and symbols.
• It is dependent on the machine tool hardware an the
machine control unit.
• The program can be written in a high level language
such as APT, UNIAPT, COMPACT etc.
• These programs have to be converted into machine
level program with the help of processors.
• The program is translated into the appropriate electrical
signals for input to motors that run the machine.
NC Components: Program Input Device
• The program input device is the mechanism for part
programs to be entered into the NC control.
• The most commonly used program input devices are:

 punched cards,
 magnetic tapes,
 punched tapes,
 diskette drivers
 serial ports and
 networks.
Program Input Device

Program Input Device
1. Punched cards
• Punched cards were once used as a medium for data
input in all numerical control systems.

• A typical punched card has 80 columns and 12 rows to

identify the punching position.

• For any numeric and alphabet to be punched on the

card, a code is used and a rectangular blocks are
punched on the card at one or more places.

• Normally one card is used for encoding each

instruction or for storing each master record.
2. Magnetic tape and disk

• The width of the tape is 6 mm or 25 mm.

• The data is stored in the coded form by means of

magnetized spots on magnetic medium in both cases.

• The magnetic tapes and magnetic disks are re-usable


• The data once stored can be erased and new data saved
on the magnetic tape or disk.

• The data stored on magnetic tapes and disks can be

corrupted if these are brought into magnetic fields.
3. Punched tape
• Punched tape is widely
used for feeding the
programme to numerical
control systems.

• A standard tape is 25 mm

• The punched tape has a

capacity for storing 10
characters per 25 mm

• A punched tape is shown

in the figure below.

• There are 8 tracks on the tape, which are used for
punching the information in coded form.
• The edge adjacent to track 1 is called reference edge.
• A row of small holes between track 3 and track 4 is
used for feeding the tape into the tape reader.
• The information required to machine the component
is punched on the tape by a tape punching device.

NC Coding

• The data to the NC system is input in the coded form.

• The coding is based on two digits 0 and 1.
• In numerical control ‘0’ means OFF and ‘1’ means ON.
• The number system, which uses these two digits is
called binary system.
• All the data input to the control system is converted
into binary equivalents and the codes are thus
generated are punched on the tape.
• Some binary equivalents of decimal numbers are given
Decimal Binary Equivalent
Number Decimal to binary conversion:
0 0
1 1
2 10 2 10 0
3 11 2 5 1
4 100 2 2 0
5 101 1
6 110 1010
7 111
8 1000
Binary to decimal Conversion:
9 1001
10 1010
1x24 +1x23 +1x22 +1x21 +1x20

• ISO Numerical Control
• The ISO-7 bit code for
numerical control suggested
by International Standard
Organization is shown in
• The figure shows the
decimal equivalent and
binary representation of
various characters as it
appears on the punched

• The ISO Code is a 7-bit code and uses
7 track for coding and 8th track is
reserved for error checking called
parity check.
• The vertical stream of holes between
track 3 and track 4 are feed holes and
do not form a part of coding system.
• The ISO numerical code, the digits 0-
9 have a hole punched in track 5 and
• In addition, hole (s) is/are punched
according to the binary equivalent of
the decimal number.
• For all alphabet characters A-Z , a
hole is punched in track 7.
• Then the alphabet follow the
ascending binary count from 1 to 26.
• A DELETE character is recognized by
the presence of holes in all the tracks
• EIA Numerical Control
• The EIA is also a 7-bit
code in a 8- track
format with track 5
reserved for parity

• The figure shows the

decimal equivalent and
binary representation of
various characters as it
appears on the
punched tape.

• The vertical stream of holes
between track 3 and track 4 are
feed holes and do not form a
part of coding system.

• The EIA numerical code, the

digits 1 to 9 have a hole
punched as their binary

• The alphabet characters are

divided into three groups.
– A-I all have holes punched
in track 6 and 7.
– J-R all have holes punched
in track 7 and
– S-Z have a hole is punched
in track 6.

• A DELETE character is
recognized by the presence of
holes in all the tracks .
Parity check

• In both the ISO and EIA coding system one track is

reserved for parity checking.
• Parity checking is a device for error checking and to
ensure that the tape has been punched correctly.
• The ISO-code specifies EVEN parity which means that
the number of holes in any row should be even. If a
character code results in ODD numbers of holes, then a
hole is punched in parity track (No.8) to make the
number of holes even.
• If the number of holes in a row is ODD, the machine will
stop and error will be conveyed to the operator.
• The EIA code specifies ODD parity and uses 5 as parity

NC Components: Machine Control Unit (MCU)
The machine control unit (MCU) is the heart of a NC
system. It is used to perform the following functions:

• Read coded instructions

• Decode coded instructions
• Implement interpolations (linear, circular, and helical)
to generate axis motion commands
• Feed axis motion commands to the amplifier circuits
for driving the axis mechanisms
• Receive the feedback signals of position and speed for
each drive axis
• Implement auxiliary control functions such as coolant
or spindle on/off, and tool change 35
Input Media
Controls the sequence of movement of an NC and is basically structured in
two parts
Reading the control media
• Tape reader reads the codes and then sends it to Machine Control Unit

• The MCU decodes into electrical signals which conversely converts

them into the machine movements of machine tool.

•Mechanical Tape Reader
•The principle of a simple mechanical device for reading the
punched tape is shown in the figure below.

•If there is no hole in the tape the contacts remain open but
when a hole is present in the tape, its presence is detected by a
probe and bending of flexible strip cause the contacts to close.

•The presence of holes in the tape causes the switches to

•The switch is in ON position (hole) of OFF position (no hole)


•Optical of Photo-electrical Readers
•The operation of an optical photo electrical tape reader is based
upon the principle that if a beam of light falls on a photoelectrical
cell, the latter generates an electric signal.

•The punched is fed between a light source and a sources of


•Whenever a hole is present in the tape, light from the light
source passes through the hole and energies the corresponding
photo-cell which converts the light energy and electrical energy
to produce a pulse i.e. ON position.
•The pulse is amplified and processed into a form suited to the
control circuit.
•When there is no hole, the light from the light source does not
reach the photo-cell, hence no signal is produced and the
position is recorded as OFF.

•Pneumatic Tape Reader
•The tape is fed between a series of air jets covering the complete
pattern of holes which is possible to be punched in a block of
information on the tape and tape support plate.
•The compressed air jets are directed through specially designed
tubes which have two openings. The first opening called, main outlet,
is near the tape and second opening is connected to a signal

•If there is no hole in the tape, the tape covers the main outlet and the free
escape of air is restricted and the a back pressure is developed in the supply
tube. This back pressure is sensed by the signal detector and position is recorded
as ‘0’ i.e. OFF.

•But if a punched hole in the tape comes in front of the main outlet, the air is
allowed to escape freely and no back pressure is built up in the supply tube. This
loss of back pressure is detected and position is recorded as ‘1’ i.e. ON.

•The support plate prevents the tape from being blown away by the compressed
air coming from main outlet.

Classification of NC systems

Based on Motion Type:

Point-to-Point or Straight line or Continuous path

Based on Positioning System

Incremental or Absolute

Based on Control Loops:

Open loop or Closed loop

Based on Power Supply:

Electric or Hydraulic or Pneumatic

Based on motion type
Point-to-Point systems
• Also called position systems
• System moves to a location and
performs an operation at that location
(e.g., drilling)
• Also applicable in robotics
• Moving at maximum rate from point to
• Accuracy of the destination is important
but not the path.
• Drilling is a good application.

Straight line system
• Straight cut control - one axis motion at a time is controlled
for machining.
• It is an extension of point-to-point control system with the
provision of machining along a straight line in case of milling
and turning operations.
• This is obtained by providing movement at controlled feed
rate along the axis in the line of the motion.
• It is possible to machine along diagonal lines with movement
in two axis at a controlled feed rate.
• However, in such cases the control system must be capable
calculating and displacing the slides simultaneously at suitable
feed rates to reach the desired points because in this case the
feed rates along different axis will have to be different.

Continuous path systems
• Also called contouring systems in machining
• System performs an operation during movement (e.g., milling and
• Controls both the displacement and the velocity.
• Machining profiles.
• Precise control.
• Use linear and circular
• Contouring - multiple axis’s
controlled simultaneously

Axes of NC machine

Work Positioning

•The method of accurate work positioning in relation to

the cutting tool is called the “rectangular coordinate

•The rectangular coordinate system allows the

mathematical plotting of points in space.

•These points or locations are called “coordinates.”

•The coordinates in turn relate to the tool center and

dictate the “tool path” through the work.
Most of the NC machine builders follow the ISO standards
to designate the axes of their machines.

The guiding coordinate system followed for designating

axes is the familiar right hand coordinate system.

One could use his right hand to arrive at these alternate variable positions
of the same right hand coordinate system (see figure 2).

Figure 2: Finding directions in RH coordinate system 51

Figure 1: Right hand coordinate systems
Designating the motion
First of all, the Z-motion is designated. This is followed by the X and
Y motions respectively.

Machine Tool Types
• It is convenient in the context of standard, to classify the NC
machines in the following groups.
• Group I: Machine tools with the rotating cutting tools
– I (a): These machines may have a vertical spindle; e.g. vertical knee,
milling machine, drilling machines, vertical boring machines etc. These
could be of single column type (I(a-i) or gantry type I(a-ii)

I (b): These machines may have horizontal spindle e.g. horizontal boring
machines etc.

• Group II: Machines tools with rotating work pieces e.g. lathes
and grinding machines

• Group III: Machine tools with non-rotating work pieces and non-rotating
tools e.g. shaper, slotter and planer

Z-Axis and Motion


The Z-axis motion is either along the spindle axis or parallel to the
spindle axis (Group I: Machine tools with the rotating tools. Group
II: Machines tools with rotating work pieces e.g. lathes and
grinding machines)

In the case of machines of Group III it is recognized as the one

perpendicular to the work holding surface which may not be passing
through the controlled point (i.e. the cutting tool tip).
(Group III: Machine tools with non-rotating work pieces and non-
rotating tools e.g. shaper, slotter and planer).

The principle for the machines of Groups I and II where drilling type
motion can be performed is that for moving a drill into the work
piece, the cutting tool should move in the negative (-) Z direction.

For other machines the positive (+) Z motion increases the clearance
between the work surface and the tool-holder.

X-Axis location and direction
The X-motion is the principle motion in the positioning
plane of the cutting tool or the work piece.

• It is perpendicular to the z-axis and should be horizontal
and parallel to the work holding surface wherever

• For Group I (a-i) machines when looking from the
principal spindle to the column the positive (+) X is to
the RIGHT (Figure 3).

Y-Axis location and direction
• Its designation is derived from the already recognized Z and X
• It is perpendicular to both X and Z axes and +Y is in the direction
which completes with the +X and +Z motions a right hand
cartesian coordinate system.
• In Figure 3 to 7, this has been demonstrated in the columns
under the coordinated system and Y.
• The first two columns under Z and X axes show the designation
of Z and X axes as per the principles mentioned earlier.

Programming Control

• Absolute and Incremental positioning

• Zero points and Reference points

Classification of NC systems
Based on Motion Type:
Point-to-Point or Straight line or Continuous path

Based on Positioning System

Incremental or Absolute

Based on Control Loops:

Open loop or Closed loop

Based on Power Supply:

Electric or Hydraulic or Pneumatic

1. Absolute positioning. In this mode, the desired
target position of the tool for a particular move is given
relative to the origin point of the program.

2. Incremental positioning. In this mode, the next

target position for the tool is given relative to the
current tool position.

Absolute and Incremental Co-ordinates

• Absolute Co-ordinates

– Before programming commences the points on the path to

be machined are defined relative to the work piece datum:
• Datum: a reference point from which ALL other points
are referenced

The Z axis is the vertical axis and the datum used is normally
the surface of the work.

Z is positive when moving away from the surface and negative

when moving towards or into the surface.

Absolute Co-ordinate System

1. Identify the co-ordinates

of the origin in 3

2. Assume the Datum is

located at the origin

3. Create a table of X, Y, and

Z co-ordinates of each
letter labeled point;
assume Z=0 for all lettered

Absolute Co-ordinate Worksheet

The Datum for X and Y are the

origin (0,0)
The format for expressing X, Y, & Z
Is (x, y, z) so “Point A” = (5, 4, 0)
when the datum is located at the

“Point B” is NOT relative to “Point A”

Point Datum A B C D E F G H
X 0 5 10 -4 -9 -7 -4 7 5
Y 0 4 5 5 7 -3 -6 -5 -2
Z 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 67
Incremental Co-ordinates
• Incremental Co-ordinates
The points on the path to be machined are defined relative to the
previous position.

Identify the sequence of point co-ordinates needed to describe

the points in the following table moving alphabetically, beginning
at the Datum (0, 0, 0).
The Z axis is again the vertical axis, and the points are defined
relative to the previous position; positive when moving away
from the surface and negative when moving towards or into the
surface. For the problem, assume all Z co-ordinates equal zero.

The sequence
specified moving Incremental Co-ordinate Graph
therefore the following
table represents

Notice that the co-

ordinate numbers
associated with each
lettered position would
be completely different
had the sequence been
Datum, C, A, D, B, F, H, E,
So if one lettered
position is in error, ALL
subsequent positions
will be in error 69
Incremental Co-ordinate Graph

Datum A B C D E F G H
X 0 2 3 -10 -2 0 3 9 -3
Y 0 3 -1 1 2 -9 2 0 -2
Zero Points and Reference Point
• In NC/CNC machines tool traverses are controlled by
coordinating systems.

• Machining involves an important aspect of relative

movement between cutting tool and workpiece.

• Their accurate position within the machine tool is

established by ‘Zero Points’.

• These ‘zero points’ and ‘reference points’ depend on type

of machine tool.

a) Machine Origin (M)
• The machine origin is a fixed point
set by the machine tool builder.
• This is the zero point for the
coordinate systems and reference
points in the machine.
• On lathe machine, the machine zero
point is generally at the center of the
spindle nose face.
• Usually it cannot be changed.
• Any tool movement is measured
from this point.
• The controller always remembers
tool distance from the machine
b) Program Origin (N)
• It is also called home position of
the tool.

• Program origin is point from where
the tool starts for its motion while
executing a program and returns
back at the end of the cycle.

• This can be any point within the

workspace of the tool which is
sufficiently away from the part.

• In case of NC/CNC lathe it is a point

where tool change is carried out.

c) Part Origin (W)
• The part origin can be set by
the programmer in the
NC/CNC program or by the
operator manually.

• Establishing the part origin is

also known as zero shift, work
shift, floating zero or datum.
Setting up of Origin
• Usually part origin needs to be In case of CNC machine tool
defined for each new setup. rotation of the reference axis is not
possible. Origin can set by selecting
three reference planes X, Y and Z.
• Zero shifting allows the Planes can be set by touching tool
relocation of the part.
on the surfaces of the workpiece
Sometimes the part accuracy
is affected by the location of and setting that surfaces as X=x,
the part origin. Y=y and Z=z.

Testing of NC/CNC Machines

• NC/CNC machines are complex and require a great deal of

attention and troubleshooting as they get older.

• Although very durable, NC/CNC machines are prone to small

problems that can be easily fixed with attention to detail and
with an understanding of the various machine components.

• By analyzing the problem and tracing it back to certain

procedures that may or may not have been done, you can
keep your NC/CNC machine in acceptable working condition
for decades.

• Make sure that the machine is zeroed out.

• This will allow the NC/CNC machine to know its home position.

• A NC/CNC uses locational information in a program to position

the cutting tool for the machining process.

• Make sure there is oil and air going to the NC/CNC.

• NC/CNC machines use air to open and close the tool holder as
well as to keep the tool tight in the spindle for the cutting

• If the air pressure or oil pressure for lubrication get too low, the
machine will stop functioning and you may have to restart the

• Keeping the machine lubricated and the air flowing will allow for
continuous uninterrupted cutting.
• Check the edges of cutting tools if the part finish looks rough or
out of tolerance.

• If necessary, change dull or chipped tools, but remember to re-

tech them using the probe.

• This will give the machine the information it needs about the
location of the tip of the tool for accurate cutting, drilling or boring.

• Check the coolant flow and fill the reservoir if the tooling is
getting too hot and burning up.

• The coolant lubricates the cutting edges of tools including

indexable cutters, end mills and drills.

• Make sure that the coolant is in a good general position to hit all
of the various tip lengths of the individual tools.

• The coolant acts as a cooling fluid and a lubricant and most be

refilled as it is mostly water and does evaporate over time.

• Clean the chip drawer out on occasion.

Daily Care and Feeding of Your CNC Machine
• Check the hydraulic pressure.
• Check the hydraulic fluids to make sure they’re at the
right operating level
• Check to make sure the chuck pressure is at the right
operating pressure
• Clean the chips out of the chip pan, and grease any part
that may need to be greased
• Clean off the window of the door and the light so you
can see inside your machine

• Every Three Months or 500 Hours
• Check and grease the chain on the chip conveyor
• Check and clean the filters on the coolant tank

• Every Six Months or 1000 Hours

• Contact your local distributor to have the following
preventive maintenance performed:

– Have the coolant tank cleaned of sludge, chips, and oil.

– Have the chuck and jaws taken off the machine and
– Have the hydraulic tank drained and replace the hydraulic
oil with fresh hydraulic oil.

• Have the lubrication unit drained and cleaned out.
• If your machine is equipped with a cooling unit, have
the unit drained and refilled
• Have the leveling of your machine checked and
adjust if necessary

• a Year or Every 2000 Hours

• Contact your local distributor and have the following
• Have the headstock checked for taper
• Have the spindle checked for radial and end play
• Have the chuck cylinder checked for run out
• Have the tailstock checked for taper