Paper or Plastic? Advances in Software Media
Mike Breitkreutz 01.30.2013
Do you remember using paper tape with your CNC control? If you’ve been in the machine tool industry for a while, you may remember the days of managing your part programs (cutting programs) on paper tape media. In the early days of NC controllers, it was the only method of installing the NC Software, and transferring your part programs to the CNC control.
We’ve come a long way since the days of paper tape media. As Okuma expanded our CNC control platform over the past decades, we’ve introduced new media devices to keep pace with the current technology. Looking back on it, this evolution has been pretty dramatic:
- The earliest Okuma CNC controls that utilized paper tape were the OSP 2200 and OSP 3000. So, back when Bob Dylan was playing ‘Tangled Up in Blue’ in night clubs, machinists were trying not to get ‘tangled up in paper tape’ as their part programs reeled through tape readers to cut that precious part.
- Thinking back to the 80s, we might wince at the memory of bad hair-bands (Poison anyone?), but things were more promising on the software media front. Okuma’s OSP 5000 CNC control introduced the 8” floppy disk media to our customers. Finally, you had a whopping 128 Kbytes of program storage capacity in a nice neat package!
- Okuma’s OSP 5020, OSP 7000 and OSP U100 CNC controls that followed from the late 80’s through the 1990’s brought 3½” floppy disks to the machining world. This industry-standard disk media allowed customers to easily transfer part program data between the CNC machine and the office PC on controls that supported MS-DOS disk format. Programmers could now sit in their offices and save part programs to a floppy disk while jamming to Stone Temple Pilots. As grunge music resurrected the music industry, the 3½” floppy disk delivered a groundbreaking innovation to the world of part program management.
- In the late 90's, with the introduction of the OSP E100 CNC control, Okuma began using Compact Flash to store the NC software on the control, and the 3½” floppy drive unit remained on the machine tool for part program management.
- In 2004, Okuma’s THINC®-OSP CNC control technology revolutionized the machine tool industry with its open-architecture, PC-based platform and full office interconnectivity. This broke the boundaries of software media restrictions. All this while new bands like Audioslave and Velvet Revolver showed us what’s possible when you reinvent yourself.
Today, Okuma provides all THINC-OSP CNC control software on DVD media with every machine. The OSP System software can be installed via DVD or USB memory stick through standard USB ports, and customers can easily manage their part program data via Ethernet or USB connection to the machine.
From the OSP 2200 to our THINC-OSP CNC controls, Okuma continues to provide our customers with the latest software and media to keep your CNC machines running while adding new functionality. And we still produce software to support all of the media and Okuma controls mentioned in this article.
Do you prefer ‘Paper or Plastic’? Comment below and tell us what new software media has enabled you to do. Or contact us to learn how we can help streamline your CNC control processes and interconnectivity.
Mike Breitkreutz is Senior Manager, Software Production and Service, Okuma America Corporation