What is a CNC Post Processor?
A CNC post processor is software that converts toolpaths created in a CAM system into NC programs that can be read by a machine’s controller to move the cutting tool along the programmed paths in a safe, consistent and predictable manner.
Most CAM systems are designed to be machine independent allowing users to program their parts regardless of what machine they will be made on. Toolpath data from the CAM system is stored in machine independent files. These files contain all of the information required to move the cutting tools along the programmed toolpaths and make your part, but how does the motion of the cutting tool translate to machine motion?
This is where the post processor enters the equation. The main role of a post processor is to read toolpath data from machine independent files and convert it into an NC program which can be read by your machine’s controller. However, simply converting the data into an NC program formatted for your machine’s controller is often not enough.
A post processor must also consider your machine’s kinematics. The term kinematics refers to the how the axes on your machine move, particularly the rotary axes on a 5-axis machine. The rotary axes on a machine may be attached to the table, the spindle or a combination of both. The configuration of the rotary axes has a great effect on how the data from the CAM system should be post processed. It can affect length compensation, feed rate calculations, transitions between toolpaths and several other components of the toolpath not contained in the data from the CAM system.
Therefore, a good post processor should be developed to work for your machine and should generate edit-free NC programs specific to your machine’s controller and kinematics. It should also utilize the latest functions on your machine’s controller to make sure you are getting the most out of your machine. CAMplete works closely with our machine tool partners to provide solutions specific to their machines, so you can feel confident you are getting a proven CNC post processor when you use CAMplete.
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