Beyond the touchscreen, the functionality of the latest ProtoTRAK remains familiar, simplifying the switch for both new and existing customers. However, newly developed features, such as Enhanced ProtoTRAK Assistance (EPA), which provides instant access to in-depth help for users at any point in the programming/operating procedure, are aimed at improving ease of use. EPA addresses the change in skill sets that businesses are facing, with the next generation having possibly lower levels of engineering/metal-cutting experience, but higher familiarity of computer technology.
ProtoTRAK RMX (milling variant) controls also include an Auto Geometry Engine (AGE) and, in-built machining strategies that are said to deliver advanced performance benefits, again with a simple touch of the screen. AGE is effectively a CAD capability within the control that allows users to overcome issues when data is lacking from drawings, by automatically calculating missing dimensions during programming.
Touchscreen capability takes AGE to a higher level with the newly created ‘Tap to Guess’ feature. With the part shown on-screen, simply tapping the screen where the intersection or tangent point is unknown prompts AGE software to calculate the required data. AGE can be used for both profiles and pockets, and the RMX is capable of machining pockets with an unlimited number of islands located inside their boundaries. Aligned with pocket machining, a range of strategies can be called upon with RMX ProtoTRAK control.
Other newly developed features include ‘Adaptive Toolpath’, which can reduce cycle times on complex milling cycles, a feature more commonly found on high-end CADCAM systems. In addition, the ‘Look’ feature now runs alongside the program inputs for verification purposes. As well as live updating of program events, ‘Look’ will also show a conventional toolpath and give the user estimated cycle times to ensure the most efficient method has been selected. For the ultimate program check, a solid 3D rendered image can be shown using the verify feature.
ProtoTRAK RX controls (both mill and lathe) retain the option for a DXF converter, and here the touchscreen technology delivers advantages as importing a DXF file is completely streamlined, eliminating the need for supplementary software and the requirement for a mouse to be connected. A further development is the ability to mix DXF and manual programming during program generation, which is again facilitated by the touchscreen.
“At the start of the development process we spoke to customers and asked what they wanted to see from ProtoTRAK; 95% of what was listed has come to fruition in the RX controls,” says Nigel Atherton, managing director at XYZ Machine Tools.