The DATRON next© control CNC software is one of those smart technologies that comes along and just improves how we work. After years of manual data entry, painstakingly slow part set-up, rerunning jobs due to set-up errors, and going from machine to machine to check job status – suddenly, that’s all behind us.
DATRON next© Control CNC Software Sets Up Your Job in 4 Easy Steps
The DATRON next© benefits both experienced machinists and newcomers. The touchscreen control features a 4-step workflow that simplifies job set-up, while its intuitive design (with graphics and icons) works just like your smartphone. CAM Assistant breaks down part set-up into four steps: loading the program, selecting the tools, setting up the workpiece, and visualizing the workpiece in 3D. It doesn’t get any easier than that.
DATRON AG, manufacturer of DATRON machines, worked closely with leading CAM/CAD software providers to develop a post-processor that outputs your program file directly into DATRON’s native language, SimPL. The next© control software is compatible with many of the industry’s most well-respected programs like Fusion360, Mastercam, SolidCAM, CAMWorks, HSMWorks, TypeEdit, Carveco, and more. To load a program, you just insert a USB into the control and select the file you’d like to run.
When loading a program from your CAM software, next© verifies that each programmed tool is in the machine and alerts you if any tools are missing. It takes only seconds to find the right tool when you search and filter by features and sizes. The control also provides detailed information about each tool, like the type, diameter, flute length, and location of the tool in the magazine. DATRON tools are preloaded into the tool library, eliminating the need for time-consuming manual tool data entry.
To set up your workpiece origin, the touchscreen allows you to drag the machine’s integrated camera over to your workpiece and draw around the material with your finger. The control will plot the probe points for you. You can adjust the dimensions, measure two points along an edge, inside the part, and more. There’s no need to input numerical data, saving you even more time.
The DATRON next control CNC software generates your part using the desired tool paths and dimensions in 3D, so you can preview the workpiece and make adjustments before machining begins. No more scrapping parts after the cycle has run because something got missed during set-up.
Features That Simply Your Workflow
The run screen on the control panel provides an overview of your job parameters, including spindle speed, feed rate, vacuum pressure, and which tool is being used. You will always know the status of your milling program since the touchscreen shows the remaining run time and alerts you to if any errors that have occurred (the panel will change its color to red).
In the integrated editor, you can build complex programs with loops & conditions and input preprogrammed command functions. For beginners, the user interface guides the user through selecting the type of operation and entering parameters like the tool step over or tool path angle, then translates those selections into code. The syntax highlight, a search & replace function, and dialog boxes ensure that programming a part is fast and easy.
Need to perform quality checks at certain points during machining? Or maybe you need to see if a design meets your expectations? You can input automatic pauses at desired points in your program (like the start of a new tool path), so you don’t need to worry about manually stopping the machine at the just right moment or missing a checkpoint.
Many CAM systems offer toolpath filters that work by shifting and removing points, which often means choosing between a smooth surface or intricate detail. The DATRON next© control takes a different approach by adding points within the tolerance set in the CAM software. These points are calculated out to five decimal places (metric) to achieve a more accurate, superior surface.
The Multiple Execution function is perfect for batch milling and nesting parts. It produces multiple identical workpieces from a single blank and runs the program using different origin points. Tool paths are automatically optimized for an efficient runtime and can be previewed in a 3D simulation before the machining starts.
In the Manual Operation section, there is a Dynamics function that offers five different machining settings to best match your requirements. If you want a quick roughing cycle, pick the “very fast machining” option. If a part requires a superior surface finish, just choose the “optimum surface” option. When selecting a mode like “optimum surface”, the software will automatically adjust the level of accuracy that the machine adheres to. The software also changes the amount of jerk allowed through the drive motors and acceleration characteristics.
To minimize the impact of tool wear and breakage during production, the add-on feature “Sister Tools” automatically replaces a worn or damaged tool without interrupting your program. When the tool probe detects breakage, it swaps out the damaged tool for a suitable replacement. This feature even lets you tell the machine in advance when to replace a tool using defined values like tool run time or traverse distance.
Another add-on feature that double-checks your work is the Protected Area. This helps prevents collisions with fixtures and other workholding devices. You can define zones, like your vacuum table, so the software knows that area is off-limits. If there are any mistakes in your program, the control alerts you and prevents the machine from crashing.
Monitor Your DATRON Machine Remotely
You can remotely monitor and control your DATRON machine with the DATRON Live Apps. The Cockpit App gives you a machine status reading right on your phone, tablet, or computer. It displays the remaining cycle time, an overview of your tool magazine, and the tools’ condition. It also shows compressed air, vacuum, and coolant data. The Camera App shows a live stream of your part via the integrated machine camera. You can launch a program on the machine by selecting it from a list within the Remote Link App. It can run simple macros like shutting down the machine or switching off the vacuum. These licensed add-ons require a network-connected device (local or via VPN) and the next© control software. The license key only needs to be purchased once, and all updates are provided with the DATRON next© release notes.
Automation and DATRON next control CNC Software
The DATRON automation portfolio offers efficient and customized solutions to meet your manufacturing needs. Fortunately, you don’t need a bunch of third-party applications to integrate the DATRON next© control software with simple and complex automation systems. With next©, you can program custom I/O commands, set up barcode scanners, read QR codes with the integrated camera system, and use the 3D probe to measure parts and relay the data, so a cobot can orient itself to easily pick up parts.
The DATRON Automation Module connects external hardware, like a robot, to a DATRON machine that’s outfitted with the DATRON next control CNC software. The module facilitates communication between the external system and the DATRON. It also controls the automatic opening and closing of the machine or external system enclosures. The next© control handles external hardware integration by running it in a separate runtime environment.
DATRON offers two API options: REST API Basic and Automation (an API allows different pieces of software to communicate with each other). The REST API Basic is great for integration with metrics software to help with resource planning and analyzing production. The REST API Automation is ideal for seamless integration of robots, inspection equipment, and other hardware. The DATRON Digital I/O Module is installed in the machine control cabinet and connects external hardware, like automatic clamping elements, to the interior of a DATRON machine.
We keep hearing from next© control users that this software has changed the way they work because it frees up so much time and because it is so simple to use that beginners can be up in running in just hours. If you’re looking to learn more about the DATRON next© control, ask one of our DATRON experts for a live virtual demo.