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Machine shop simulator software?

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  • Machine shop simulator software?

    For some time I have thought that it would be useful to have a simulation program that could analyze a machining project by going through the various steps required or suggested, and estimating the suitability of various machines for the job and such information as time required, tolerances that can be held, etc. I found some search results, but they were mostly for CNC, and I wanted something for common hand-operated lathes, mills, grinders, shears, brakes, welders, and many others.

    Here's what I found:
    The Engineering Laboratory promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology for engineered systems in ways that enhance economic security and improve quality of life.

    What I would like to see is a sort of virtual animation, perhaps like a game, where the operator can provide a drawing or solid model of a part, and then select the material from various actual vendors or a personal stockpile, and thus begin with a good estimate of the cost. Then one would choose a machine, such as a bandsaw, and simulate the operation to produce the rough size needed. This would use a visual simulation of the operator and the machine, and show the material being cut, and the time required. It would also show the results of various blades, cutting speeds, and machine power, and warn if the selection would be inefficient or problematic.

    Each operation would tally the time and cost, and show the material as it would appear for each step. So you would be, essentially, creating and editing a solid model as can be done with a CAD program, but using virtual machines rather than creating, adding, and subtracting shapes.

    Has anyone seen or heard of anything like this? It would be a major undertaking, but could be a challenge and useful for becoming familiar with machine tools and the process of machining.
    Paul , P S Technology, Inc. and MrTibbs
    USA Maryland 21030

  • #2
    Some time ago someone posted something like what you describe. I though a simulator, something along the lines of Microsoft flight would be interesting.


    • #3
      Does it need to be realistic? Like the ability to take and extra 2 thou off on a final cut? Or cut just fine, until the final cut when something erodes the tool edge? Or will it also offer theoption of the OOPS and the hadle gets bum-ed and you wind up with a groove in the part...


      • #4
        I think it should be as realistic as possible, so it could keep track of a tool bit or saw blade and make it become dull and less efficient depending on time of use, cutting speed, and materials. It could also simulate a broken tool caused by abuse, incorrect settings, and even a random function that could cause a failure based on dumb luck.

        There are some things that might be difficult to simulate with mouse and keyboard, such as sharpening techniques, but it could have a way to model and edit the shape of a cutting tool and then show how well (or poorly) it cuts. Of course, it could also have a "cheat" which would produce a perfectly formed tool, but it would still depend on how it was installed and used.

        I am used to being able to simulate electronic circuits using the free Linear Technology LTSpice application, and there is another good tool (TINA) with a free version offered by Texas Instruments. One version of TINA has interactive tools such as dials and pushbuttons, and it also will show parts that overheat or fail because of too much current or voltage. I think it actually lets out a puff of the "magic smoke"!
        Paul , P S Technology, Inc. and MrTibbs
        USA Maryland 21030


        • #5
          ever hear of That's probably exactly what their estimating software does.

          My personal opinion is that its apples and oranges when comparing machining to electronic (or even mechanical performance) simulation. I can LOOK at a part and within 2 minutes tell you how to make it, and about how long it will take. It's way more basic when compared to mechanical stress simulation or electronic circuit simulation.