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Tool Changer Programming

for the ShopBot software. 

Click here for Mach 3 programming

There are many ways to program the tool holders for automatic tool changes.  One method might not work as well as another on the different machines which could use this system.  Therefore, the method listed below is for reference to demonstrate the theory of operation.  It is the users responsibility to input the correct values once the Tool Changer and Tool Pallet have been installed.  It is highly recommended that the power switch to the Tool Changer be turned off till you are confident that the Tool Pallet is setup correctly and the programming operates as intended It is recommended that you go through at least 10 cycles of picking up and replacing all the tool holders before attempting automatic tool changes while cutting parts.   At the end of these directions there is a simple program to cut the MRT Logo using a 1/4" and 1/8" bits.  Also included are samples of the VARIABLS.SBP file and the code used to pickup and replace a Tool Holder.  Since the directions will reference these programs, it is recommended that you print out the programs so you can follow along.  Click on the buttons below to go to PDF versions of these files and print them. 

VARIABLS.SBPGETOOL.SBPPUTOOL.SBPTool Offset

Sample ProgramSample PathTL-FIND.SBPSETUP

The programs have line numbers for easy identification during the instructions.  When using these files none of these line numbers can be in the file.  The highlighted lines in the program are the lines you need to add to the cutting path program for automatic tool changes. 

This programming example assumes the Tool Pallet has been installed along the left edge of the table along the Y-axis with the machine 0,0 in the lower left hand corner. If your table is setup differently contact Technical Support for different setup and execution files.

Defining The Variables for VARIABLS.SBP
This programming method uses a file to set the variables required to operate the system. This file is called VARIABLS.SBP and is run during the SETUP.SBP file which is run before any program which utilize automatic tool changes.  There are some variables which MUST be set by the user before the system can be used.

Programming Files
Several files are required to operate the Tool Changer in addition to the cutting file.  The files that come with the Tool Changer need to be placed in the location C:\ MRTPROG.  If the files are placed in a different location, some files may need to be changed to look in the other location for the required files.  The SETUP.SBP will be used for every program which requires a tool change so it is recommended that this file be assigned to a Custom Cut number so access is available to this program from any folder.

Tool Holder Location
A file is included which will automatically find the center of the Tool Holder when it is properly located in the Tool Bay. This file is called TL-FINDV.SBP. The following steps are required to use this file:

  •  Zero the machine at machine 0,0
  •  Insert a ¼” shaft into one of the Tool Holders. This can be a broken ¼” shaft bit, a dowel pin or anything with a clean and uniform circular end profile.
  •  Insert a Tool Holder in Tool Bay #1.  Attach the grounding wire with the two alligator clips from the bottom of the Tool Holder to the grounding plate attached to your machine. The Tool Holder must be oriented so that the anti-rotation slots are at a 45° angle to the Tool Pallet.
  •  Manually load the Tool Holder  with the 1/4" shaft into the Tool Changer .
  •  Position the tool bit ~ ¼” above the center of the Tool Holder.

The program will find the top of the Tool Holder and then probe the outside of the Tool Holder for 2 points on the Y-axis. The program calculates the center of these points and probes 2 points on the X-axis using the calculated Y value. The program saves the center points for Tool Holder #1. The program pauses and prompts for the grounded Tool Holder to be moved to the next Tool Bay.   Hit any key to continue once the Tool Holder has been moved .  The process continues till all the Tool Bay centers have been identified. The program then writes the centers to a file called TLPOSTN.SBP which will be located in the directory where the SB.EXE file resides.  Open this file and copy the contents to the VARIABLS.SBP file in the locations requested in lines 24-39.   (See the Video Page for a demonstration of the TL-FIND.SBP program)

&DELTAZEROPLATES
The next variable that needs assignment is &DELTAZEROPLATES.  This is the difference between the zero plate when placed on the table top to the zero plate on the Fixed Tool Holder. To find this value insert a Tool Holder (without a tool bit is preferable) into the Tool Changer. Using your zero plate, zero on the top of the table. Lift the Tool Changer and move it to the center of the grounding plate on the Fixed Tool Pallet. Lower the Tool Changer till contact is made with the zero plate.  Record this value for the &DELTAZEROPLATES in line 12 of VARIABLS.SPB.

Zero Plate Thickness
Enter the thickness of your zero plate in line 19 of VARIABLS.SBP for the variable &ZEROPLATETHICK.

Fixed Tool Pallet Zero Plate Center Location
The next variables are the X and Y locations of the center of the zero plate on the Fixed Tool Platform. Make sure the machine is zeroed at the machine 0,0.  Load a Tool Holder with a bit into the Tool Changer and move to the approximate center of the zero plate on the Fixed Tool Platform. Record this value and replace the numbers for the variables &XZEROLOCATION and &YZEROLOCATION in lines 41 and 44.   The previous variables need to be defined only once.  These variables are now stored to the VARIABLS.SBP file.

 

SETUP.SBP
The Z axis reference point for the MRT Tool Changer is the bottom of the collet chuck with no Tool Holder installed.  This is a stable location and will not change so all measurements done in the Z axis must to be done with no Tool Holder in the Tool Changer.

This programming method uses the home position or machine 0,0 as a reference for the locations of the Tool Holders.  If the part you are cutting does not have its 0,0 point at the machine 0,0, the X and Y offset of the local part 0,0 in relation to the machine 0,0, needs to be programmed so the Tool Changer will be positioned correctly in order to accomplish tool changes.  This is done with the SETUP.SBP program.  This file is run just before any program requiring an automatic tool change.  Since this file will be used often, it is recommended that it be assigned to a Custom Cut.  This way access to this file will be available from any directory.  The SETUP.SBP program operates as follows:

    SETUP.SBP

  •  Line 4-6 - Set some variables
  •  Line 7 - Runs the VARIABLS.SBP file which sets the variables required for automatic tool changes.
  •  Line 8 - Asks for user input for the X offset in relation to the machine 0,0 for where the file will be cut.
  •  Line 9 - Asks for user input for the Y offset in relation to the machine 0,0 for where the file will be cut.
  •  Lines10 - Jogs to the X, Y offset location
  •  Lines 11 -12 Asks user to put the zero plate under router.  The plate must be put on top of the part Z axis  zero.  This is usually the top of the material or the top of the table.
  •  Line 14 - Instructs program to go the subroutine STOPRETURN on contact with the zero plate
  •  Line 13 - 22 - Blows off the zero plate
  •  Line 14 - Lowers the router and goes to STOPRETURN on contact with the zero plate

STOPRETURN

  •  Lines 56-60 - Lifts Tool Changer .25" and resets a slower Z axis move speed
  •  Line 61 - Returns to the main program

SETUP.SBP

  •  Line 25 - Instructs program to go the subroutine SETZERO on contact with the zero plate
  •  Line 27 - Lowers the Tool Changer till contact  with zero plate and goes to SETZERO subroutine

SETZERO

  •  Lines 67 - Zeros the Z value to the part 0,0
  •  Line 69 - Raises the Tool Changer to clear the Tool Pallet zero plate
  •  Line 73 - Resets the Z axis move speed and returns to the main program

SETUP.SBP

  •  Lines 30-31 - Jogs to the center of the Tool Pallet zero plate
  •  Line 69 - Raises the Tool Changer to clear the Tool Pallet zero plate
  •  Line 73 - Resets the Z axis move speed and returns to the main program
  •  Lines 32 - 43 - Makes contact with the zero plate, raises .25" makes contact again and goes to the PLATFORMZERO subroutine

PLATFORMZERO

  •  Line 79 - Sets the ZEROPLATE variable to the distance between the part Z zero and the Tool Pallet zero plate and returns to the main program

SETUP.SBP

  •  Line 48 - Lifts the Tool Changer up by 1/4"
  •  Line 49 - Jogs 6" in the +X direction to clear the Tool Pallet

The Tool Changer is now ready to cut a file with automatic tool changes.

FP Command With The ,,,,,2 Offset Option
In this method of programming, the file with the tool paths is cut from inside another file using the FP command with the ,,,,,2 2dD offset option.  This runs the cutting file using the part 0,0 instead of the machine 0,0. 

Running the TESTPROG.SBP  File
To cut the sample program, TESTPROG.SBP, a 12 x 12 piece of material at least 1/4" thick must be secured to the table.   A 1/4" bit must be loaded into a Tool Holder and placed in Tool Bay #1.  An 1/8" bit must be loaded into another Tool Holder and loaded into Tool Bay #2.  Run the OFFSETUP.SBP program to load the tool offsets for at least these two tools.  Run the SETUP.SBP program and enter the approximate center of the 12"x12" board as the X and Y offset.  Place the zero plate on top of the 12"x12" piece of material as the top surface was programmed as the Z axis zero and press any key to continue.  Once finished, run the TESTPROG.SBP and it will cut the file with a tool change.

An explanation of the files follows:

TESTPROG.SBP
'Test File for Tool Changer
JZ,1.0                             ‘raises the Tool Holder to 1,0" above the material surface.
FP,TESTPATH.SBP,,,,,2     ‘runs TESTPATH.SBP with the offset specified in the SETUP.SBP file

TESTPATH.SBP

  •  Line 3 - Looks for the file GETOOL1.SBP in C:\MRTPROG

    GETOOL1.SBP

  •  Line 3 - Makes sure the Tool Changer is turned off.
  •  Line 4 - Raises the Tool Changer to a position just above the Tool Holder.
  •  Line 5 - Moves the Tool Changer to a location directly in front of the Tool Holder in bay #1.
  •  Line 6 - Moves the Tool Changer directly over the Tool Holder #1.
  •  Lines 7-14 Actuate the air cylinder 3 times to clean off the Tool Holder before picking it up.
  •  Line 15 - Actuates the drawbar opening the retention fingers
  •  Line 16 - Drops the Tool Changer over the Tool Holder
  •  Line 17 - Releases the drawbar and the Tool Holder is drawn up into the taper of the collet chuck.
  •  Line 18 - Drops the Tool Changer slightly to compensate for lifting it into the collet chuck.
  •  Line 19 - Moves the Tool Changer to the location directly in front of tool bay #1.
  •  Line 20 - Resets the Z value to the offset value stored for Tool #1.
  •  Line 21 - Lifts the Tool Changer so the tip of the tool bit is 1" above the cutting surface.

Transfers back to the TESTPATH.SBP program

  •  Line 4 - Sets jog speed
  •  Line 5 - Makes sure the tool will clear the material surface.
  •  Line 6 - Sets move speed
  •  Line 7 - Jogs to starting point for cutting with tool bit #1
  •  Line 8 - Turns the Tool Changer on
  •  Lines 9 - 24 Cut the outside profile
  •  Line 25 - Turns off the Tool Changer
  •  Line 26 - Lifts the Tool Changer 1" above the material surface
  •  Line 27 - Looks for the file PUTOOL1.SBP in C:\MRTPROG

PUTOOL1.SBP

  •  Line 2 - Makes sure the Tool Changer is turned off
  •  Line 3 - Resets the Z axis height
  •  Line 4 - Moves the Tool Changer to a position just in front of the Tool Bay in the Fixed Tool Pallet.
  •  Line 5 - Lifts the Tool Changer to the correct height to insert the Tool Holder back in the bay of the Fixed Tool Pallet.
  •  Line 6 -  Waits the selected dwell time to make sure the Tool Changer has stopped spinning. This value will be determined by how fast the Tool Changer is moved from its’ last cutting position to the Tool Pallet and how far from the Tool Pallet the cut was completed.  This value is set in the VARIABLS.SBP files but can be reset for each Tool Holder if desired.
  •  Line 7 - Moves the Tool Holder into the Tool Bay with an additional distance of &XADD.  This makes sure the Tool Holder is fully seated into the Tool Bay.
  •  Line 8 – Lifts the Tool Holder by the amount of &YADD. This variable is used lift the Tool Holder slightly higher in the Tool Bay than its final position so when the drawbar releases the tool which lowers the Tool Holder slightly, it will be positioned vertically so the spring plungers can hold it tightly in place.
  •  Line 9 – Actuates the drawbar and releases the Tool Holder so the spring plungers in the Tool Bay can position it for the next pickup.
  •  Line 10 – Raises the Tool Changer to clear the released Tool Holder
  •  Line 11 – Deactivates the drawbar to release the air cylinder and retract the drawbar.
  •  Line 12 – moves the Tool Changer to a position just in front of the Fixed Tool Holder so it can be ready for the next command and returns back to the TESTPATH.SBP program

Transfers back to the TESTPATH.SBP program

  •  Line 31 - Looks for GETOOL2.SBP in C:\MRTPROG

    GETOOL2.SBP

  •  Line 3 - Makes sure the Tool Changer is turned off.
  •  Line 4 - Raises the Tool Changer to a position just above the Tool Holder.
  •  Line 5 - Moves the Tool Changer to a location directly in front of the Tool Holder in bay #2.
  •  Line 6 - Moves the Tool Changer directly over the Tool Holder #2.
  •  Lines 7-14 Actuate the air cylinder 3 times to clean off the Tool Holder before picking it up.
  •  Line 15 - Actuates the drawbar opening the retention fingers
  •  Line 16 - Drops the Tool Changer over the Tool Holder
  •  Line 17 - Releases the drawbar and the Tool Holder is drawn up into the taper of the collet chuck.
  •  Line 18 - Drops the Tool Changer slightly to compensate for lifting it into the collet chuck.
  •  Line 19 - Moves the Tool Changer to the location directly in front of tool bay #2.
  •  Line 20 - Resets the Z value to the offset value stored for Tool #2.
  •  Line 21 - Lifts the Tool Changer so the tip of the tool bit is 1" above the cutting surface.

Transfers back to the TESTPATH.SBP program

  •  Line 32 - Sets jog speed
  •  Line 33 - Makes sure the tool will clear the material surface.
  •  Line 34 - Jogs to starting point for cutting with tool bit #2
  •  Line 35 - Turns the Tool Changer on
  •  Lines 36 - 160 Cut the inside profile
  •  Line 161 - Turns off the Tool Changer
  •  Line 162 - Lifts the Tool Changer 1" above the material surface
  •  Line 163 - Looks for the file PUTOOL2.SBP in C:\MRTPROG

PUTOOL2.SBP

  •  Line 2 - Makes sure the Tool Changer is turned off
  •  Line 3 - Resets the Z axis height
  •  Line 4 - Moves the Tool Changer to a position just in front of the Tool Bay in the Fixed Tool Pallet.
  •  Line 5 - Lifts the Tool Changer to the correct height to insert the Tool Holder back in the bay of the Fixed Tool Pallet.
  •  Line 6 -  Waits the selected dwell time to make sure the Tool Changer has stopped spinning. This value will be determined by how fast the Tool Changer is moved from its’ last cutting position to the Tool Pallet and how far from the Tool Pallet the cut was completed.  This value is set in the VARIABLS.SBP files but can be reset for each Tool Holder if desired.
  •  Line 7 - Moves the Tool Holder into the Tool Bay with an additional distance of &XADD.  This makes sure the Tool Holder is fully seated into the Tool Bay.
  •  Line 8 – Lifts the Tool Holder by the amount of &YADD. This variable is used lift the Tool Holder slightly higher in the Tool Bay than its final position so when the drawbar releases the tool which lowers the Tool Holder slightly, it will be positioned vertically so the spring plungers can hold it tightly in place.
  •  Line 9 – Actuates the drawbar and releases the Tool Holder so the spring plungers in the Tool Bay can position it for the next pickup.
  •  Line 10 – Raises the Tool Changer to clear the released Tool Holder
  •  Line 11 – Deactivates the drawbar to release the air cylinder and retract the drawbar.
  •  Line 12 – moves the Tool Changer to a position just in front of the Fixed Tool Holder so it can be ready for the next command and returns back to the TESTPATH.SBP program

End of program.

If desired another part can be cut without running the SETUP.SBP program again if the material thickness and part 0,0 locations have not changed.

 

 

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