Talking shop - voice-controlled machine tools

​Steed Webzell explores the theme of voice-controlled machine tools after a notable breakthrough was showcased at the IMTS exhibition in Chicago last September

Just as voice-controlled technology has entered the mainstream consumer market in recent years, so the same capability is becoming available for machine tools. Following its worldwide debut at IMTS 2018, ATHENA has stepped forward as the industry first voice-operated assistant. At the show, ATHENA, which was developed in the US by a company called iTSpeeX, was present on machines built by Makino (NCMT:, DMG Mori ( and OKK (2D CNC Machinery:, among others.

The subject of voice technology has been tentatively breached previously, a case in point being the Mazak Voice Advisor, which saw its introduction around 12 years ago. Part of the company’s Mazatrol CNC platform, Mazak Voice Adviser was designed to reduce operator error by providing verbal assistance during machine set-up and confirm conditions are safe to proceed.

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