November 15, 2002  


e-DNC Hub Brings Any-to-Any Communication to MFD

By Kelley Ramsey

The Mechanical Fabrication Department (MFD)—also known as "the Muscle of SLAC"—faces the ongoing challenge of keeping current with new manufacturing techniques while continuing to use existing mills and lathes. The solution? A 16-port serial hub was installed to allow any workstation in the shop to send a CAD/CAM part program to any computer numerical control (CNC) machine tool.

Cliff Caston (MFD) programs a part that will be sent through the Greco system to the tree mill (in the background) for manufacturing (Photo by Kelley Ramsey)

The new system incorporates a Greco e-DNC (Direct Numeric Control) communications hub running embedded Windows XP. The hub connects to PC workstations on the LAN via TCP-IP, and then sends tool path data directly to each machine through RS-232 cabling. Each machine is outfitted with a Greco Mini-File, bringing enhanced CNC technology to the traditional mills and lathes.

MFD currently has four workstations running computer-aided manufacturing applications such as Solid Edge, TekSoft Pro-CAM and EDS Unigraphics. The advantage of having the ability for any workstation to communicate with any machine is the seamless integration of manufacturing processes, moving toward a paperless shop environment.

Light Fab will always be able to take a sketch and create the part program, but by working directly from CAD models provided by designers, engineers or physicists, the shop can continue to turn out state-of-the art fabricated parts quickly and accurately.

For more information on the Mechanical Fabrication Department, see:  


The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center is managed by Stanford University for the US Department of Energy

Last update Friday November 15, 2002 by Kathy B