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Converting an existing commercial machine to use Mach3
« on: April 23, 2013, 12:45:52 PM »
Hello,

I am new to the CNC world and I currently have a very, very basic understanding of machine control.  Until now I have been generating g-code to produce parts on CNC mills and routers, but I've never had to understand the machines themselves.  I am familiar with programs like BobCAD, Mastercam, and some other proprietary machine software, but I am just starting my journey to learn more about the actual machines and controllers.  Currently I have a Komo Solution router which uses proprietary software to control the machine.  I am curious if the machine can be converted to be controlled using Mach3.  Does anyone know if this is possible?

I imagine that there may be many, many variables that exist and and need to be defined before attempting to do this; however I would really like to investigate this further.  I am looking for help getting started on a list of things to begin checking.  What are a few of the major things that I must confirm with the router and PC in order for Mach3 to successfully operate the machine?  I know the machine functions properly using the proprietary software, so I guess what I really need to understand is equipment/ component compatibility with Mach3.  Please help this newbie out.  I'll definitely continue browsing the forum and reading posts to help me learn about components and how they work.

Thanks,

Brian W.

Offline Hood

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Re: Converting an existing commercial machine to use Mach3
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2013, 01:38:55 PM »
What you need to do is find out the type of make/model of motors and drives/amplifiers then you will hopefully find info as to what kind of command signal they accept.
I would imagine, if it is a commercial machine, that it will use analogue command input, if that is the case then there are a few controllers out there that work with Mach and that can control analogue drives/amps.
 One of them is the CSMIO/IP-S and I have just used that on a Chiron FZ12S  VMC retrofit and I couldnt be happier with it :)
Hood

Offline ger21

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Re: Converting an existing commercial machine to use Mach3
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2013, 05:33:21 PM »
Why would you want to switch to Mach3 control? From my experience with commercial machines, I'd guess that you'd get far better performance from the proprietary control. Most of them have S curve acceleration, and are optimized for specific machines, which should give you much smoother and probably faster motion than you'd get with Mach3. But I've never seen one of those machines, so I could be wrong.

Also, commercial routers often have a ton of inputs to support very robust safety systems. Implemeting these things can be very complex in Mach3.
Gerry

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Re: Converting an existing commercial machine to use Mach3
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2013, 09:35:20 AM »
Hood,
Thanks for the comment.  I have found some model numbers on the motors and drivers.  I'm going to do a little research on them this evening.

Gerry,
Even with my lack of understanding I would agree that switching from the proprietary software does not make a lot of sense.  The real scenario is that we have two of these machines.  The owner of my company is in dispute over one of the machines (didn't get what we were promised type of thing and for this reason is disputing paying the full price of the machine in question) and unfortunately the software is locked out on this machine (assuming until full payment is received).  So we currently have a very large and expensive paper weight.  I am simply exploring, not under the direction of my employer, if there is a relatively inexpensive way to operate the machine until the dispute is resolved.  I am hoping to find out what all is involved and to estimate a cost to do it before suggesting it to our owner.  More importantly for me I am using it as a way to learn more about the components of this machine and how it is controlled.  Also, I think you're right as far as the complexity of the safety system.  This thing has various sensors and switches everywhere, most of them make sense to me but there are a couple that I am still trying to figure out what they even do.

I know I'm in way over my head here not yet even having the experience and understanding from building a hobby machine of my own, but it again I think it gives me an opportunity to learn more about the equipment.

Thanks,
Brian

Offline ger21

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Re: Converting an existing commercial machine to use Mach3
« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2013, 11:32:39 AM »
As a guess, I'd say you're looking at $10,000-$15,000 minimum, and an incredible amount of time to figure everything out.
Gerry

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http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2010.html

JointCAM Dovetail and Box Joint software
http://www.g-forcecnc.com/jointcam.html

Offline Hood

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Re: Converting an existing commercial machine to use Mach3
« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2013, 02:22:59 PM »
As a guess, I'd say you're looking at $10,000-$15,000 minimum, and an incredible amount of time to figure everything out.

Time yes, it will take a lot of time and thought but if electrical drawings are at hand then that would speed things up. As for the  money you say,  I cant see it being anywhere near that as it is already running so a controller and computer and maybe some bits and pieces.
Hood

Offline ger21

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Re: Converting an existing commercial machine to use Mach3
« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2013, 06:59:00 PM »
The cost I posted is based on paying someone for all that time it's going to take. :)
Gerry

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http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2010.html

JointCAM Dovetail and Box Joint software
http://www.g-forcecnc.com/jointcam.html

Offline Hood

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Re: Converting an existing commercial machine to use Mach3
« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2013, 01:41:38 AM »
Well I was thinking they were planning on doing it themselves, maybe not.
Hood

Offline BR549

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Re: Converting an existing commercial machine to use Mach3
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2013, 09:07:42 PM »
IF the machine is in legal dispute it would be wise to NOT start taking it apart. I would just settle the dispute and get on with work.

The old saying applies here if it is NOT broken don't try to fix it. Also it is possible to loose functions under Mach3 over a commercial controller.

(;-) TP

Offline Sam

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Re: Converting an existing commercial machine to use Mach3
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2013, 01:29:03 AM »
If you factor in that TIME=MONEY, (time for you to research and get educated=employers money, and money lost on jobs that the machine should already be doing) and your a novice to start with and have much to learn, I would think that Gerry's figure is a lowball estimate. If this was your own machine that was not your bread and butter, and you searched around for deals on used parts, after you've learned what you need, then I would say that you could do it for significantly less at a leisurely pace.
"CONFIDENCE: it's the feeling you experience before you fully understand the situation."