I read posts in other blogs and this question gets kicked around A LOT. I guess each has his / her own opinion. Mine has been formed from being a 3rd generation machinist … having grown up around and having worked in many machine shops … machining with everything from manual machines to the highest of tech CNC.
If you’re a REAL MACHINIST … aspire to be one … or are just an admirer of the skills and of the trade … this post is for you.
I recently came across this channel on YouTube and I have become a real fan … and a real admirer. Although I grew up and was trained on a lot of the machines illustrated on this channel ( of course with electricity … come on I’m not THAT OLD !! ) the steam power aspect adds a whole new dimension of interest.
Below is just a sample video of Dave Richards videos. I highly recommend you take a peek. WARNING : If you’re a REAL MACHINIST … you’ll be hooked !!
Thanks Dave !!
For the memories of these two guys !!
Kenney Skonieczny – President
3rd Generation Class “A” Machinist
We have written a few posts now ranting about how true artisans are being replaced by Artificial Intelligence and how manufacturing may have summoned the demons by over-utilizing complex and “intelligent” software to completely replace the “human factor” ( you can read a post HERE ). That thought was even the subject of an article in the Wall Street Journal … of course much more eloquently.
This post is dedicated to some of the ideas and messages highlighted by that article … intermingled with reasons why we feel our Kipware® software is such a great option to combat the “dumbing down” of America.
Have you “drank the CAD/CAM kool aid”? … or in this case embalming fluid?
“Dazzled by our new machines … we’ve been rushing to hand them all sorts of sophisticated jobs that we used to do ourselves. But our growing reliance on computer automation may be exacting a high price. Worrisome evidence suggest that our own intelligence is withering as we become more and more dependent on the artificial variety. Rather than lifting us up, smart software seems to be dumbing us down.”
Let’s take a look at this point referencing manufacturing. It seems that software developers are really keen on making their software more and more complex … and more and more capable of removing the human interaction … after all, that’s what brings in the big bucks. Instead of simply helping the artisan (machinist) step away from the drab and cumbersome tasks … CAD/CAM has striven to take ALL the thought and “human factor” out of the part programming and manufacturing process. The goal of modern software developers is to grow the automation more and more … but these often result in a “lazy and uneventful design that are void of intellect, imagination and emotion” says architecture professor Jacob Brillhart.
When CNC machinery first came along, it was celebrated for it’s ability to make the machining of complex shapes … take an arc for instance … possible. Creating the G code to machine that arc was still in the hands of the artisan. By keeping it in the hands of the artisan, it lent itself to the human interaction … which more often lent itself to new and innovative shapes … more things could be done with that arc. As CAD/CAM has striven to replace ALL human interaction … it has also removed more and more of that “human factor”. More and more, these new and more powerful software are leaving users only with the drab, mindless, less demanding tasks … and the human innovation and human creativity has been removed with the “skill” being built into the computer.
“Yesterdays machine operators are today’s computer operators.”
As the WSJ articulates … take for instance the modern pilot who actually may be losing his edge thanks to the cockpit computer. We have taken so many tasks away from the pilot and shifted it to the “autopilot” … we have started a “skills fade”. In 2007, British aviation researcher Matthew Ebbatson conducted an experiment with a group of airline pilots. He had them perform a difficult maneuver in a flight simulator … bringing a Boeing jet with a crippled engine in for a landing in rough weather. When he compared the simulator readings with the actual aviators flight records … he found a close connection between a pilot’s adroitness at the controls and the amount of time the pilot had recently spent flying planes manually. In other words … when we are forced to perform tasks manually we are more likely to sharpen our skills and our know-how. When software takes over … manual skills wane.
Why is Kipware® Different ?
My belief … in manufacturing … complex software that performs ALL the tasks automatically are to blame for today’s “dumber” shops … and possibly the skills drain that shops are experiencing. Human-focused software … like Kipware® … engages the operator with lots of prompts and pushes people harder to think, act and learn. Our skills develop and get sharper only through practice when we use them regularly. In our recent article I made the point that … programming a rectangular pocket or the roughing of a multi-step shaft is not rocket science … but it is tedious. Kipware® can assist by creating this simpler G code quickly and easily … but it’s imperative that the user have the ability to create that G code manually if he had to. The message … ” I could do it if I had to but it’s faster and more efficient this way.” … must be valid. If the user can’t do it … and is relying on the computer to perform a task he is incapable of … that’s a problem. The pilot having the ability to land the plane if he had to … is a lot different than him relying exclusively on the auto-pilot because he doesn’t know how to land the plane.
Another example … one of many … is that the U.S. Naval Academy just resumed training officers to navigate by sextants. Historically the only way to determine a ship’s location at sea, this technique is being taught again both as a backup in case cyberattackers interfere with GPS signals and to give navigators a better feel of what their computers are doing.
Our software design philosophy and our Kipware® titles reflect a certain feature … that software plays an essential role but is actually secondary to the human operator. It takes over routine functions that a human operator has already mastered. Kipware® becomes the users partner … not the users replacement.Kipware® often relies on the users strengths and interaction … allowing them to bring their ideas and experience to the process … and allows them to enhance the results with the use of the skills and experience.The simple act of knowing how to save a file on the computer … for example … can oftentimes be a stepping stone to bigger and better things. I often hear the question … when I save a file where does it go? With Kipware® … it goes where you tell it to go … not where the software decides it should go with automation that keeps you out of the process. You have to think … act … understand … process. All our Kipware® titles are guides … sure they can automate tedious tasks … but they can also be expanded by the human operator and can take them both to places they could only go with an interactive partnership.
Everyone in manufacturing is in awe at the power and scope of the computer software available that will do the various manufacturing tasks … and we should be. And there certainly is a place for the complex CAD/CAM applications in the manufacturing environment. But our marketing slogan … “Not every job requires CAD/CAM.” … rings true here. We believe that putting every job … even the simplest … through a CAD/CAM system … as outlined here … is making your shop dumber.We should not … and must not … underestimate the value of our own talents when partnered together with technology. Even the smartest software lacks the ability to replicate the human insight gained through years of real world experience and hard work. “If we let our own skills fade by relying on automation, we are going to render ourselves less capable, less resilient and more subservient to our machines.”
Shop floor CNC programming … the creation of material cutting programs / G code programs at the machine tool or on the shop floor … is the majority of CNC programming performed in REAL WORLD machine shops around the world, every day. Good chip makers creating their G code programs utilizing evrything from pen and paper to PC’s and tablets. It’s undeniable … and it’s the real world.
Unfortunately, most CNC software developers have never worked directly on a production or job shop floor … have no real world CNC machining experiences … and create software based on unrealistic … not real world … goals and expectations. The user interface and output too often reflect that lack of real world experience and the people on the floor are made to live with it.
How do we know? We worked on those shop floors for almost 30 years … we used and were held hostage by their software. When we started Kentech Inc. in 1986, our goal was to put a STOP TO IT !!! Over the last 30 years … thanks to THOUSANDS of programmers and machinists around the world … we are well on our way.
COMPLICATED – Too Much is Too Much
On the complicated side of the scale … we have CAD/CAM. There is certainly no denying that CAD is a necessary tool for design … without it, we would never have built the world we have today. HOWEVER … not every workpiece to be machined requires a drawing nor a CAD application. And here is where the software developers got it wrong … blame their lack of shop floor experiences. In order to create a G code program … the user is forced to either have a CAD drawing or create a CAD drawing. Without a drawing … no machining code. And that’s just a BAD model.
How is Kipware® Conversational different ?
We designed our Kipware® conversational to be good at two ways of programming … without a drawing and with a drawing. For the simpler, everyday type workpieces, users can fire up the conversational, fill-in-the-blank forms … and quickly and easily create powerful G code programs in minutes. For those more complex contours and shapes … they can draw or import a drawing and create G code programs from their drawings still using a simpler, real world interface.
SIMPLISTIC – Don’t Even Bother !!
On the simplistic side of the scale … we have software designed and created by hobbyists whose only experiences are with hobby machining … which as any machinist knows is worlds away from production and shop floor programming. Overly simplistic designs … producing overly simplistic G code … with overly simplistic methods and processes that in reality, take programming from overly complicated to overly tedious and inefficient. Do you want to be a better hobbyist (“cnc’er”) or a better professional ?
How is Kipware® Conversational different ?
Having lived and worked cutting chips for a living … we were able to build simpler applications that pack a punch and include professional chip cutting output all done automatically based from our real world chip making experiences. We may be using a simpler interface and design as a cover … but we provide all the professional code output all automatically and all done under-the-hood inside the source code. While simplistic “wizards” and simplistic “conversational controls” give you simple but hold you back as a trade off … Kipware® conversational gives you simple and provides all the professional output you need all automatically.
From auto cutter compensation output … to long hand or canned cycle user configurable options … we built BEST PROGRAMMING PRACTICES into our software and output. While the “wizards” are still trying to learn what best programming practices even are !!
In addition … our cutting edge development gives the user powerful real world options like the ONLY conversational 3D machining options for milling … and the ONLY conversational Live Tool and Y Axis programming options for turning centers. That is taking simpler and …
… KICKING IT UP A NOTCH !!
The Perfect Blend Between the SIMPLE and the COMPLEX
If you agree with the statements that not EVERY job requires a CAD/CAM program … and overly simplistic is NOT real world … we invite you to spend some of your valuable time exploring our Kipware® conversational software for MILLING and TURNING. Don’t wait or struggle for another minute … do yourself and your shop efficiency a favor and join the THOUSANDS of programmers and machinist around the world who gave CAD/CAM the boot … and put the “wizards” back in the bottle where they belong.
Kenney Skonieczny – President
The place for all things Kipware® from www.KentechInc.com