Almost Daily, I get Phone Calls from People Looking for New CNC Controls for their Machine Tools. They seem to Think that This is an Easy Endeavor, In which you Quickly & Easily & Cheaply just Unplug Their Old Control, Plug-In a New Control,
and All Their Machine & Control Problems Magically Disappear.
I tell All these People the Same Thing;
New Controls Retrofits are Technically Feasible,
But, Are Rarely Economically Feasible!
1 --- Control Retrofits are Expensive.
Logic & Control Section, and Recycle & Reuse Existing Machine Servo-Drives and
Servo-Motors, Starts at about $25,000 to $30,000.
A more Complete Control Retrofit with a New Commercial Fanuc CNC Control and
New Fanuc A.C. Servo-Drives & A.C. Servo-Motors Fitted to the Machine,
will Start at about $70,000 to $80,000.
Generally Speaking, Retrofits are Only Economically Feasible on "Big Iron'' Machines, like a Big Boring or Planning Mill that Cost Many Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars,
and is Difficult to Move & Install. It is Worth-It to Update these Expensive Machines.
But its certainly Not Worth it, for instance, to put a New $30,000 to $80,000 Control on
a Old FC1000/1 "A-Control" Strippit Machine that's worth maybe $1000.
If you have a $80,000 Budget, Scrap the Old Machine, and Buy a Newer Used
FC1000S or FC1250S which would be Less Cost than the Retrofit,
but would be Light-Years Better in Capabilities & Reliability & Serviceability.
Some Bigger Turret Punch Machines may be Worth Retrofitting, but this is a Business Decision that Needs to be Based on Worth and Replacement Cost of the Machine. Considerations include Machine's Condition, Unique Features like Table Size,
Turret-Size, Station Size & Numbers, Auto-Index Stations, Press-Drive Features, Punch-Tonnage. And the Fact that it's Already On-Site, Installed, Tooled-Up, and your Operation & Maintenance Personal already Know & Understand this Particular Machine.
Most Manufactures do Not do Retrofits. This is because they are in the
"Selling New Machine" Business, and Not "Repairing Your Old Machine" Business.
However, to their Credit, Amada Does Offer Control Retrofits and Refurbishing of their Old Machines. Cost is Not Cheap, I understand New Control & Servo Packages are in
the $85,000 area. Strippit does Not do Control Retrofits, Except for FC1000R Class of Machines with Apple-Mac and DOS-PC Controls because Strippit has Parts & Service Issues with their "PC Controls" and can't keep them Running. Strippit's Fanuc
Control & Servo Retrofit for "R-Machines" is also in $75,000 to $85,000 range.
I would Scrap my Old R-Machine and Buy a Good Used, and Far Superior, Strippit FC1000S Machine before I would Spend 80-Large on a FC1000R Retrofit!
2 --- Manufactures, like Strippit, spent many Man-Years of Engineering Time on Tailoring a Control to a Particular Machine, and then Working the Various "Bugs" Out.
Control Retrofitter's Can NOT Spend Anywhere Near This Much Time on a Retrofit!
A Strippit Hi-Speed CNC Turret-Punch Machine is Very Complex, with Many Activities
all going on at the Same Time, in Real-Time. Functions like Controlling Acceleration, Decelerating, and Positioning of X, Y, and T Axis at same time. Doing Math Calculations, in Real Time, while Axis are Moving, during a Contour Nibbling Cycle. Handing Clutch and Brake during a Hi-Speed Punch Cycle that may only last 110 Milliseconds. And Doing All These, and Many Other Functions, while Monitoring All the Many Limit and Safety Switches and Sensors, at the same Time.
Now Picture a Service Tech, coming into your Shop. He wants to get the Job Done, and Go Home. In about a Week, he is Supposed to Literally Cut-Off Old CNC Control and somehow Graft New Generic CNC Control to Machine's Old Wiring. And Interface All Machines Switches and Sensors. And Duplicate All Old Control's Many Functions, Canned-Cycles, and Safety Features that He's Probably Not Even Familiar with.
Then get All the Various Bugs-Out. Remember,
The Original Manufacturer Spent Man-Years Of Engineers & Tech's Time Doing This!
The Tech doing this Work in Your Shop does Not Have Man-Years to get the Job Done.
The Reality is, it will take Multiple Trips back to Work the Bugs Out, as you slowly Discover Functions that Do Not Work. If it's a Good Retrofitter, they will spend the Time Necessary to get it as Correct as they can, with Some Necessary Follow-up Bug Troubleshooting Service Trips already Built-In to the Retrofit Price.
If its Not a good Retrofitter, you are on your own! You will have to Pay to get them Back, and they are sometimes Reluctant, as they want to Move-On to the Next Project. And as you have now Bastardized the Machine, Original Manufacturer will Now Refuse to Work on it anymore. So You better have a Good Relationship with the Retrofitter, and Hope that he doesn't "Go Away" or Move or Retire, as you are now
Dependent on them Forever. I have seen this Happen more than once!
3 --- Often, Customer is Blaming his Old CNC Control for All his Machine Problems, because it's Human Nature to Blame what We Do Not Understand.
Often times, The Problems are Not Even from The Control, but are Actually Machine Problems, like a Malfunctioning Switch, Loose Wires or Connections, or a Worn-Out Part. In my Experience, I see 4 or 5 Machine Problems for every Real Control Fault.
These are Maintenance Issues, Not "Bad" CNC Control Issues!
Most Shops Do Very Little, or even No Maintenance.
Do You Even Have A Maintenance Manual for Your Machine?
Has Anyone At Your Shop Ever Bothered To Read The Maintenance Manual?
If Shops would Do Regular Maintenance on their Machine, And
Fix Real Problems as they Appear Instead of Allowing them to Accumulate,
they would be Much Happier with their CNC Machine and it's Production.
My Advise to You.
If you are having Trouble with your CNC Control,
Just Get It Repaired Properly & Keep it Repaired!
It was Factory Designed, Built, and Interfaced
Just for Your Model Machine!!!
But Most Shop are Too-Cheap to get a Competent Serviceman in to Repair Machine & Control Properly, and so Problems Just Accumulate. Eventually, Machine becomes Unusable, and Production & Management People All Declare "It's a Piece of Junk!".
They then Scrap Machine or Sell it Cheap, Buy a New Machine,
and Start The-Cycle All Over Again.
I have made Tons of Money (Let's Keep This a Secret, OK?) over the Years Buying these "Pieces of Junk", Fixing All The Little Problems Prior Owner Would Not Pay to Repair Properly, and Reselling them Again. In Every Case, My Customers have been Happy with Machines I sold them. The Secret of The CNC Game is Service & Parts!
Above Opinions are Based on my 42+ Years of CNC Machine Field Service.
But, as I Say Over & Over Again, You Need To Do Your Own Research, And
Make Your Own Decisions Based On Your Unique Needs & Circumstances.
If you Still want to Investigate CNC Control Retrofits,
Here, In No Particular Order, are More Retrofit Resources;