CNC Machine Control Retrofits
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!

Here's Why;

1  ---   Control Retrofits are Expensive.

A   P.C.  (Personal Computer)  Control Retrofit,  in which they Replace Just the 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 have the Same Overall Cost as 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 the  "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 that New Control & Servo Packages are in the $85,000 area.    Strippit does Not do Control Retrofits,  Except for  FC1000R Class of Machines that have Apple-Mac and DOS-PC Controls because Strippit has Parts and Service Issues with their  "PC Controls"  and can't keep them Running.    Strippit's Fanuc Control & Servo Retrofit for  "R"  Machines is also in the  $75,000  to  $85,000 area.
I would 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 the same time.    Doing the 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 the 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 many 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,  The 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  Your 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!!!

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 38+ 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;

Automated Machinery Inc.

They do Service and CNC Control Retrofits,
with Both PC-Based and Fanuc Controls.
They Work on Strippits,
but their Real Expertise is on the
Murata / Wiedemann  Punch Machines.
They seem to do a good job of Retrofits.
This page was last updated: May 27, 2015
Slicer Controls LLC

They do CNC Control Retrofits,
with Their Own PC-Based CNC Controls.
They Retrofit Strippits,
but their Real Expertise is on the
Murata / Wiedemann Punch Machines.
They have been doing Retrofits a Long Time, and I think they do a Good Job of it.
PC Controls LLC

They do CNC Control Retrofits,
with Their Own PC-Based CNC Controls.
They Retrofit Strippits,  and almost Any Other Machine Tool,  using Various Independent Contractors around the Country. 
Consider Carefully,  as Quality of their Work seems to Vary with Who's Actually doing it.
Their Retrofits seem to work fairly well, 
but the Consensus of Many Service People is that PC Controls Hardware is Over-Priced.
CamSoft PC Controls

They Make Various CNC Control Retrofit Software & Hardware Packages
Mainly for  System Retrofit Integrators  to Use,
and are  Not for Shop End-Users.
However,  you can Learn Much
from their Web-Site.
Altronics Service Inc.

Specializing in Retrofitting Older
Whitney 647 Series Punch Press Machines.
Also Services Westinghouse,  FlexMate, and Automation Intelligence Equipment.
Update on Slicer Controls.      After 30+ Years,  Slicer is Out Of Business!
There was an Auction June 2008,  and All Slicer Equipment & Personal are Gone.  
At this time  12/2008,  their Web Site is still up,  apparently someone is doing a bit of service out of his House Garage.    Machines with Slicer Controls are now Unsupportable,  and so are kind of Worthless,  and should be Avoided.    This is 1 of the Big Problems with Retrofitters,  if they go away,  You are are Stuck Holding the Bag,  as Service & Parts Disappear and you can't keep your Machine Running.
Update on CamSoft Controls.
I have worked with a Very Experienced CNC Engineer who has 30+ Years Experience on CNC Controls & Machines,  And  Electronics Experience,  And Software Code Writing & Development Experience.    He purchased CamSoft Hardware and Software for a relatively simple Control Retrofit.    He found some Advertised Features that Actually Did Not Exist,  others that did Not Work at all,  and Many that were  "Buggy".    Camsoft's Support was Very Weak  "After The Sale"  on Their Product Problems.   
He ended up Having to write New Software Code to Fix All These Problems.     And Then Camsoft had the Gall to try to Steal His Fixes,  of Their Code,  to Incorporate into Their Products!

It took Him Over Half a Year,  and Hundreds of Hours to make it Work & Finish Retro!
He finally Completed Retro Project,  but he had to  "Made It All Work"  Himself.
Do You have The Skills & The Time to Do All That?     Me Neither.
Update on Altronics;   
After 36+ Years,  Al Fleming has Retired and  Closed Altronics.
He still has some Control Repair Parts For Sale  (Better Buy Them Now!), 
and will still do some Westinghouse Circuit Board Sales & Repairs, 
but that is about it.     Enjoy your Retirement Al!
Applicam

With Over 20 Years Experience,  Applicam Specializes in Retrofitting Older Turret Punch Press and Laser / Plasma Cutter Machines with their Own Proven PC-Control & Software System.
They have Successfully Retrofitted Many Different Turret Machine Brands,  as well as a Couple of the Troublesome Strippit Apple-Mac Control  "R" Type Machines.  If you have a  "R"  Strippit Machine in
The Euro-Zone or Middle-East, 
I would give them a Call.
Amada

Amada is Not in the Control Retrofit Business.

Amada has offered,  in the Past,   New Fanuc CNC Control Retrofits on some old Turret-Punch Machines when Repair Parts for old Fanuc Controls became  "Not Available".
Retrofits were Expensive at  $80,000+  as it Required New CNC Control,  New Servo-Drives,  New Servo-Motors,  and Cabling on Machine.

I do not know if Amada still has these Retrofits available,  Contact Amada for Information.
STRIPPIT - LVD

Strippit is Not in the Control Retrofit Business.

Strippit manufactured Hundreds of Various Types of Light-Duty R-Type Machines in the 1990's with Apple-MAC   and   Windows-95 
P.C.-Computer  CNC Controls.
These Controls worked well when New,  but now after 20+ years,  there are Severe Problems with many CNC Parts being  "Not Available".

So Strippit was forced to offer,  in the Past,  
New  Fanuc CNC Control  Retrofits on R-Machines as Repair Parts became  "Not Available".
Retrofits were Expensive at  $80,000+  as it Required  New CNC Control,  New  Servo-Drives,  New  Servo-Motors,  and  Cabling  on Machine.
Strippit also did some Mechanical Up-Grading in Retrofit by Installing New X & Y  Ballscrews.

I do not know if Strippit still has these Retrofits available,  Contact Strippit for Information.
Strippit has Not Offered a Retrofit,  Ever, 
for any other Model of Machine.
As Most of my Fellow Servicemen
spend Way Too-Much Time On-The-Road,
here is Helpful Advise
for when they get Home.....
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