PieceMaker Online Help - Definitions

Please note not all features or definitions are installed, available, or applicable on all machines.

Abbreviations, common:
C90-C90 :  A piece with a 90 deg cope on both ends.  A typical mid-rail.
F45-F45 :  A piece shaped like a gusset with a 45 deg flat cuts on both ends.
C60-R180-C60 :  A piece with 60 deg copes on both ends with a 180 deg rotation between them.  A typical mid-rail on a stairway or a diagonal in a truss.
C60-F90 :  A piece with a 60 deg cope and a 90 deg flat cut.
 
Auto-Support:  Most 2100-series machines are equipped with a pair of pneumatic devices that support the length of the material until the chuck and carriage approach their positions.  At that point the material is typically able to support itself.  Active in both manual and auto-loading routines, they automatically fold out of the way when the carriage approaches.  They should not be confused with the Material Lifts that are part of the auto-loading process on the 2400-series machines.  The height of the Auto-Supports gets adjusted with a short sample of the material to be cut in place and the air turned off such that one can physically raise and lower the lift.  
1.  Jog X positive and put supports up.
2.  Turn off air at machine inlet.
3.  Loosen adjustment lock lever on rear auto-support ("Lift 3) so it drops down.
4.  Jog X negative until set-up stub is above the support, very close to the chuck.  
5.  Manually raise support V-block until it touches material, then drop it about 1/8" and lock it.  
6.  Push that auto-support down out of the way.
7.  Jog X negative and repeat with front auto-support ("Lift 2").  
8.  Turn air back on and proceed.  

A practical height for these is approximately 1/8" below the actual contact point such that there is some allowance for bends in the pipe to belly down without lifting the front of the material out of the front V.  At a practical level Auto-Supports set for 1-1/2 pipe might not need to be reset for 1-1/4 pipe.  Please note that the Auto-Supports are numbered #2 and #3.  They are both actuated on AUX-3.  They are individually actuated with AUX-6 and AUX-9 respectively.  There is no #1 nor #4 like there is with the Lifts on the 2400-series machines.

Batch:  A number of parts nested and organized for manufacturing.  The Batch can contain multiple different pieces if they are all the same diameter and wall thickness.  The Batch exists in parametric form in the database like the Pieces.  The Batch is processed into G-Code only when the G-Code button is pressed.  See Nesting for more details.

Bend Notch:  This is a software option released early in 2019.  Most machines can take advantage of it with the appropriate software upgrades.  A bend-notch is programmed like the other features.  A quick hint would be that a straight pipe is 180 degrees.  The programmed bend-notch angle is subtracted from 180 degrees and what is left will be what a protractor measures the actual angle to be.  For example, if you program a 90 deg notch you will get a 90 deg angle in the part.  If you program a 30deg notch you will get a 150deg part, typical in many sloped handrail top rails.

Chuck:  A manual chuck generally used on the 2100-series and some older 2400-series machines.  It has a standard chuck key, like a lathe or drill chuck, and is for round material only.  The TPC does not produce high torque, so generally tightening with one hand in one key-hole is sufficient for OD-gripping smaller material profiles.  When ID-gripping larger materials it is recommended to apply two hands of torque.  
When seating a piece of material in this chuck, it is good practice to jiggle the material around between the chuck jaws while tightening.  This reduces the chance of accidentally clamping the material with only two jaws instead of all three, which will mis-align the material and it is likely the material will fall out, during the program.  Keep this chuck wiped clean.  Keep the key in its holder built into the carriage, so it is not misplaced or broken when the chuck rotates.

Cope:   The shape put on the end of tube or pipe so that it mates up to one of a same or larger diameter.  Other industry terms include fish-mouth and notch.  PieceMaker expects Center-to-Center lengths (dimensions) for all parts and will calculate and subtract whatever is necessary for the copes to fit properly with the total length.  The actual calculated lengths of each part can be seen in the Batch window.

CR-A:  Center of Rotation of the A-axis.  Please note that this is a fixed point on the machine and serves as a reference for multiple other actions and setups.  In most cases Z-axis is referenced to the CR-A as 0.000.  Once set, this value should remain fixed as it cannot physically change.  A precision rod is used at the factory for the setup process.  There are values related to this that are used in other low-level parameters that influence velocity calculations.  Please see related material on the Front Material Support section.
CR-Y:  Center of Rotation of the Y-axis.  Please note that this is a fixed point on the machine and serves as a reference for multiple other actions and setups.  In most cases Y-axis is referenced to the CR-A as 0.000.  Once set, this value should remain fixed as it cannot physically change.  A precision rod is used at the factory for the setup process.  There are values related to this that are used in other low-level parameters that influence velocity calculations.

Database:  All the values entered into PieceMaker are stored in a Microsoft Access database file located by default in the C:\Documents\PieceMaker directory.  There can be multiple databases stored and used to organize work.  Moving bulk data in and out of the database can be done in multiple ways including optional and custom solutions offered by your vendor.  The recommended directory for the database is C:\Documents\PieceMaker.  In situations where a company is organizing work for Job #1 while Job #2 is still running, we recommend that a second database be started.  Expanding that thought, it could be stated that each job should have its own active database such that when production runs overlap there is better chance of having common parts retained and less chance of confusion where part numbers might be similar.

Flat Cut:    An option to make cut geometries like that of a saw cut.  Sometimes called a miter cut.  Be careful when working on prints that use long point dimensions because PieceMaker is looking for dimension to the center of the tube like it does on the coped parts.  Please note that the joining diameter changes to the default Flat Cut Join Diameter in the PieceMaker parameters page when a flat cut is chosen.  The advantage of PieceMaker's Flat Cut over a saw cut is that the knife edge is eliminated, weld prep time is reduced, weld quality is increased, and finally grind time is reduced.  The actual shape of this cut and thus it is weldability can be adjusted in the Parameter Page => Operating Parameters => Flat Cut Join Diameter.  The typical range is 18-200.  Handrail fabricators seem to like smaller numbers for the miters.  50 works well.

Front Material Support:  See Material Support

G-Code:  An international standard of programming for machine tool controls.  There are some variations among manufacturers.  Please see Centroid's Manual for a full listing.  The G-Code button in PieceMaker converts the Batch data into machine ready G-Codes and M-Codes.  Other ways of generating G-Code for the machine include Intercon, SigmaTube, Lantek, and macros.  For most users and applications manual coding is impractical and little knowledge of G-Code is ever required.

Gripper:  Pneumatic gripper on some 2400-series machines.  It has replaceable jaws, which are swapped out to match each type of material profile.  Some jaws cover a range of sizes, some are dedicated to one size of material.  They hold the material in such a way as to match the Front Material Support, and to match how the part program is expecting to cut the pieces.  They swap out in a minute or two and are one of the five set-up considerations whenever changing material profiles on the 2400-series machines.

Homing:  Homing is the process by which the machine finds its initial reference positions upon being turned on and told to do so.  There are two basic ways it takes place.  When powered up the machine says, "Warning Machine Not Homed".  If you press cycle start at this point the machine will proceed according to the Home File.  The home file acts like any other *.CNC G-Code file.  You can see it on the screen during the process.  It usually moves Z+ first and then follows with the other axes in a sequence that minimizes the opportunity for a crash.  Always remove any material in the chuck before homing.  A common failure mode for the process is dirty and or misadjusted home switches.  The machine does not rely on the precision of the actual switch for the repeatability of the process.  It uses the encoder index pulse for that.  Some machines do not use conventional switches.  Instead they watch for a quick spike in current when the axis hits a hard stop and then reverses to an index pulse for a precise location.  If an error pops up on the screen while homing that talks about the number of counts changing you want to answer "N" and jog the axis away from the end-stop and try again.  If it happens a second time, please notify your service organization.  Answering "YES" may or may not cause an absolute position shift which often does not prevent operation but may cause unexpected interference issues.  Again, please consult your service organization if you see this message.  The homing process can be repeated at any time without power cycling the machine by loading the CNCM.HOM file out of the C:\cncm directory and running it like any other *.CNC file.

Lift-1:  The automated lift closest to the torch or front of the machine.  This lift is handled two different ways.  First, on the 2400-series three-axis round-only machines where the material runs on at the torch on a V-notched glider Lift-1 should be set approximately 1/8"-3/16" (3-4mm) above CR-A so as to have the material clear the front support as it is feeding forward during loading.  The lift is then automatically lowered and is not used again in standard operations.  In the second case, the material is being supported at the front of the machine by a rotating assembly (the most common).  In this case Lift-1 should be set so the material is right on CR-A or at most 1/16" or 0.06" low.  If the support is significantly high or low the material will hit a bearing assembly.  If it is a little low as stated above, you will observe a slight lift as it enters the carrier.  If it is a little high the lift will force excessive deflection into the carrier springs.

Lift-2:  The second automated lift from the torch or front of the machine.  This lift's primary purpose is participating in the material loading routine.  It should be set approximately 1/8" (3mm) below CR-A.  Having this lift set low helps the machine deal with bent tubing.  It can be set as low as 1/4" below CR-A but lower settings on some materials may introduce a sag transition from the time the stock material transitions from long to short.  This transition can be seen in the Flame Distance.  This lift is sometimes used to support non-round profiles with a cyclic movement matching the short and tall side of material without interfering with the rotation process.

Lift-3:  The third automated lift from the torch or front of the machine.  This lift's primary purpose is participating in the material loading routine.  It should be set approximately 1/8" (3mm) below CR-A.  Having this lift set low helps the machine deal with bent tubing.  It can be set as low as 1/4" below CR-A but lower settings on some materials may introduce a sag transition from the time the stock material transitions from long to short.  This transition can be seen in the Flame Distance.  If short stock is being used in the 2400-series machine and Lift-4 is not in use then Lift-3 should be set right on CRA because it is now controlling the position of the end of the material as the Chuck comes forward to grip it during loading.  M82 needs to be modified to run auto-loads on material shorter than 24ft.
 
Lift-4:  The fourth and last automated lift from the torch or front of the machine.  This lift's primary purpose is participating in the material loading routine.  It should be set right on CR-A because it is controlling the position of the end of the material as the Chuck comes forward to grip it during loading.  People who have a 24ft machine running short material in auto-load mode may want to comment the lift-4 management out of the M82.

Lift Cap:  Each pneumatic lift has a replaceable cap.  Different material profiles often require different lift caps.  There are various cap designs for various material profiles.  Some material profiles require different caps, and lifts set to different heights, for the material-handling functions to work.  Some caps are specialized rollers, others are sacrificial polymers that wear and are replaceable.  Lift caps generally take seconds to a few minutes a piece to change out.  You may or may not have to change lift caps, when setting up for a different material profile.  This will be covered in training.

Lift Height:  On most 2400-series machines, the auto-lifts have adjustable stops to control the height of each individual lift.  Some material profiles use all the same Lift Caps and Lift Heights, others may use different Caps and Height settings.  Each lift has a lock knob, an adjustment nut, and an indicator display.  To adjust the height of a lift, loosen the lock knob, use the factory-supplied speed wrench to dial the adjustment nut up or down as needed, referencing the indicator's displayed number.  Once height is set, lock the knob again.  Some material profiles require different caps, and lifts set to different heights, for the material-handling functions to work.  This will be covered in training.

Load Steps:  Load steps are primarily used on 2400-series machines with auto-loading.  On the 2100-series machines without auto-loading they would usually all be set to zero (0.0).  Load Step-1 is how far the X-axis feeds until the jaws close.  Load Step-2 is how far the machine feeds until the material enters the front support/carrier and Lift-1 is automatically lowered.  Load Step-3 is how far X-axis feeds until the material is under the torch and ready to burn.  Load Position minus the three Load Steps must equal the Stock Length setting in the Batch window.  Operators generally should not have to adjust these Load Step settings.

M-Code:  An international standard of programming for machine tool controls.  There are some variations among manufacturers.  Please see Centroid's Manual for a full listing.  EMI's TPC has some custom M-Codes.  They are listed in the appendix and can be seen in the C:\CNCM directory.  You should not have to learn these or use them in typical operation.  DO NOT MODIFY THEM.  If you are programming or configuring your machine for special case operations, you may reference them.  EMI's engineering staff can help with these situations.

Material Support:  The support mechanism nearest the torch is the called the Front Material Support.  It is not one of the Lifts talked about elsewhere.  There are two types.  One is made up of a V-block and usually works in conjunction with a similar device called the material Hold-Down.  This V-block Material Support is adjustable in a vertical direction so that the center of the material matches the center of rotation of the A-axis or CR-A.  Adjustability in the Y-axis is there such that the center of rotation for the material is similarly aligned in the Y-axis with CR-A.  It would be unusual to adjust the Y with material size.
The second type of Front Material Support is a rotating assembly that is sometimes adjustable to fit various sizes of material and other times it is a dedicated plate ("puck") with fixed rollers that match up to specific material profiles.  Most commonly this rotating assembly is driven with a servo motor and electronically slaved to the A-axis.  The rollers do not wear like the polymer blocks and the material is captured in the Y-Z plane such that there are no location adjustments for material wear or material size.  On machines equipped with Auto Lifts the setup for Lift-1 changes depending on whether or not the there is a V-Support or a Rotating Front Assembly (Tombstone and Puck).
The Adjustable Puck gives some flexibility in the standard tooling package on the 2400 machines.  However, in situations where the shop runs a lot of a particular material profile, it may well be preferable to get a dedicated puck for that specific material, rather than adjusting the adjustable puck each time.  The support pucks swap out with 2-4 bolts, and self-align on pins, in minutes.  The Adjustable Puck adjusts in minutes, with 4-6 jaws, each with one bolt.  

Miter-Joint:  See Flat Cut

Multi-Joint:  An end type that fits into an existing joint of two other elements.  When programming this in PieceMaker, there is a requirement that the three elements at the node must be co-planar and have a common intersection point.  If this is not the case the part will not fit correctly.  If you have complicated assemblies modeled in 3D beyond PieceMaker's capabilities, please check out SigmaTube and/or Lantek third-party software packages

Nesting:  Nesting is the process of optimizing material utilization.  Indeed, when applying the concept to conventional flat worktables the parts might even be interlocking.  In PieceMaker, if you put the actual length of the material loaded into the stock length window and the Stub Length is set appropriately in the Parameters window, you can start loading desired pieces into the batch and watch the remaining length count down.  Without using a sophisticated algorithm or third-party software it is good practice to simply work longest to shortest.  Working longest to shortest will typically deliver the added benefit of preventing a very short length of material being in the jaws with a long length hanging out past the front support and over-torqueing the gripper/chuck assembly.  See ROP for more critical information. 

Networking:  All current machines are being shipped with Windows 10.  If it is your intent to put the machine on your corporate domain, it may to need to be upgraded to Windows 10 Pro.   All machines released after approximately 2012 using the Windows-7 OS or later can be networked using TCIP protocols.  Many earlier machines can be networked also but the procedure gets more involved.  EMI does not provide IT services.  Networking is always the responsibility of the customer.  EMI staff will provide basic instructions for the machine side but will not under any circumstances work on the customer's network equipment or PCs.  Be warned: while the IT staff is doing network setup it is possible to disable the machine in multiple ways.  Common ways of disabling an otherwise working machine include reassigning IP addresses incorrectly, enabling fire walls, and installing anti-virus software.  EMI is going to charge for the work of restoring the machine to functional at a Time-and-Material level without warranty, double if your IT guy is egotistical, maniacal, or impolite.  The customer's IT staff would do well to talk to our staff prior to attempting anything.