BALANCING THEORETICAL KNOWLEDGE AND PRACTICAL SKILLS IN TEACHING CNC PROGRAMMIMG TO MECHANICAL AND MANUFACTURING ENGINEERS
Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu (ROMANIA)
CNC machine-tools are nowadays the backbone of manufacturing industry, being the most important technology equipment for cutting operations (milling, turning, drilling, boring and threading). Consequently, CNC programming is one of the most important subjects within the curricula of mechanical and manufacturing engineers. Programming a CNC machine-tool involves the coding of geometrical and technological information required by the equipment to drive the cutting tools on the necessary toolpaths to machine the part, in a specific language (most of the time the G code, per ISO 6983).
Due to the recent advances in the modern CNC technology, corroborated with the new CAD (computer aided design) / CAM (computer aided manufacturing) software packages, CNC programming has become a very complex activity. The programmer must have knowledge within cutting processes domain, motion control systems, computer aided design/manufacturing and many others.
On the other hand, latest analyses had shown a terrible shortage of CNC operators on the labor market. Consequently, it is expected the programmer not only to program the machine, but also to train and qualify the machine operators. Thus, the programmer must possess not only theoretical knowledge, necessary for making the programs, but also the practical skills necessary to train the operators.
The number of hours allocated to CNC programming subject, according to the curricula of mechanical and manufacturing engineers is limited, so there is a need to find a good balance between theoretical knowledge and practical skills during the teaching process. This work presents how this problem has been tackled at Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Romania. Also, the cooperation between the university and industrial companies in training and re-training CNC programmers and CNC operators will be presented.