The aim of the next generation of computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines is to be portable, interoperable and adaptable. Over the years, G-codes (ISO 6983) have been extensively used by the CNC machine tools for part programming and are now considered as a bottleneck for developing next generation of CNC machines. A new standard known as STEP-NC is being developed as the data model for a new breed of CNC machine tools. The data model represents a common standard specifically aimed at the intelligent CNC manufacturing workstation, making the goal of a standardised CNC controller and NC code generation facility a reality. It is believed that CNC machines implementing STEP-NC will be the basis for a more open and adaptable architecture. This paper outlines a futuristic view of STEP-NC to support distributed interoperable intelligent manufacturing through global networking with autonomous manufacturing workstations with STEP compliant data interpretation, intelligent part program generation, diagnostics and maintenance, monitoring and job production scheduling. © 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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