CNC Bender Upgrade

Joshua - Logic BoardThis page is intended as a summary of the different things I do to the CNC bending machines that I work with. Rather than taking each machine that I post about and repeatedly use the same block of text, it was easier to make a single page of information and keep it up to date instead. For the most part, each machine uses the same sort of hardware to control it. Depending on the machine, there may be some new motors or similar such hardware added, however the underlying controller hardware of each machine will always remain the same. Details about the software powering this hardware can be found here.

Each newly upgraded machine will try to match the following new hardware requirements:

  • Parker 6K4 Controller – This is the brain of the machine. I currently use this controller as it supports both Serial and Ethernet connections. The 6K4 also uses a similar machine language to the old controller, and is also much easier to work with then some of the newer PCI card controllers available. Using an external box also removes the need to depend on the software installed on the computer to power it.
  • Modern Computer – So far, each machine has had a different computer installed, and I think for the remainder of the project I am going to stick with the Vostro series of laptops from Dell. they do an OK job without too much hassle. In the past, I have used the Artigo micro PC (the entire thing is the size of your hand) and a regular desktop PC. The Artigo tends to overheat, and the clumsy PC with the need for a monitor and keyboard etc. just gets in the way of things. Mounting the laptop to a swivel arm that can be moved around freely seems to be the best way to go.
  • Parker ModuFlex Air Controllers – These are heavy duty solenoids made by Parker that simply screw together, making expansion in the future easy. All parts are simple at attach, and just drop in a ¼” air line to the part. I have used 2 versions of this setup, 1 which has only outputs, and another with blows air one way or the other depending on in the solenoid has fired or not. The choice of which one to use is based on the hardware setup of it’s intended machine. Marvin used a completely different solenoid assembly from Nordgren, which was much bulkier and not as easy to work with.
  • Parker Air Regulators – Seeing as we are using Parker solenoids, it only makes sense to use Parker to handle the air regulation. We use a master regulator on the input line (which also cleans dirt and moisture from the air), and smaller regulators for each air output (collett and backup lines). Each regulator is hooked up to use ¼” air hose that can be pushed into the connectors for ease of maintenance.
  • Custom Built Logic Board – Each machine uses a custom logic board built by myself. This board controls every aspect of the machine, including the emergency stop, limit switches, alarm systems and operation of the equipment itself. Each board is slightly adjusted to the machine based on size and operation constraints. The parts used to build it are typically available from any hardware store such as Radio Shack or Maplin.

Each machine is powered by my custom CNC software, FlexIO. More detailed information about FlexIO can be found Here.

Machines Currently In Operation Using This Setup:

  • Marvin – The original prototype machine. Marvin is currently vactioning in Malaysia at one of our other factories.
  • Joshua – Second machine built using FlexIO, and has a few extra upgrades to Marvin. Joshua is powered using the Artigo Micro PC (pictured at the top of this page).
  • Sir Clive – The longest of our CNC Benders, and also the biggest update out of all of our machines. You can read more about the upgrade process to “Sir Clive” on This Page.
  • Two more machines are scheduled for upgrading, more information will be posted on them as it is available.

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