End-to-end digital manufacturing: Environmental Campus Birkenfeld

Within the scope of a training partnership with Siemens, the Environmental Campus Birkenfeld is educating future engineers in manufacturing with machine tools – both in theory and in practice.

At a glance

A spin-off of Umwelt-Campus Birkenfeld, Bengcon, supports customers from the manufacturing industry in creating NX-compatible 3D models of machine tools whose manufacturers do not provide a digital twin.

As an introduction to NC programming, the manufacturer-independent PAL format is usually trained and tested in Germany. Bengcon has created PAL editors for Siemens NX for this purpose. Now a program edited in PAL can be simulated in detail in Siemens NX (available from training specialist Christiani).



Efficient work in the CAD-CAM system benefits from manufacturing experience

NC programmers with workshop shopfloor experience know the problem well: Many components are designed in a CAD system without considering the specifications or limitations of production machinery. This results in quality defects, higher costs, and time-consuming reworking. Prospective engineers at Trier University of Applied Sciences in Germany are taught the limits of what is feasible and learn to make allowance for these limits in the design process. They have to actually manufacture their designs in collaboration with experienced shopfloor managers and technicians. To facilitate this, the university provides them with top-quality production facilities, from a 3D printer to a complete machining center.

The students can learn NC programming thanks to a training partnership that Dean Dr. Ing. Peter Gutheil arranged with Siemens. His students have Sinutrain licenses that allow them to illustrate the Sinumerik CNC 840D sl user interface on their PCs. The original NC core of the Sinumerik controls integrated in Sinutrain ensures that the programming and program execution of a workpiece simulated in Sinutrain is identical to the behavior of the real CNC.



A consistent, end-to-end digital manufacturing process

At the same time, students learn how to develop complex workpieces on CAD/CAM systems using NX. A major strength of Siemens NX is its unique manufacturing simulation. Machining is depicted realistically on the screen thanks to the integrated virtual NC kernel (VNCK). This rapid simulation teaches the engineers to calculate the manufacturing time in order to make calculating costs and drafting quotes easier for employers at a later date. One prerequisite is that the machining center used on the shopfloor is stored as a virtual machine in the CAM system. This means that the simulation and actual manufacturing sequence are virtually identical, and the machine space and user terminal for the respective machine are realistically depicted. Created programs can be transferred to the actual machine, which can be equipped with tools and blanks - an additional "running-in" of the NC program is now superfluous.

Industry 4.0-compliant digital one-off production

The CAD-CAM chain NX provided to the students at Umweltcampus Birkenfeld corresponds to digital production according to Industry 4.0: New workpieces or individualised variants of workpieces designed in the CAD system are produced directly and directly on the machine tool. The procedure follows the ideal of a completely CAD/CAM-supported individual production - and reflects exactly the creation process of a workpiece manufactured according to Industry 4.0 principles.

How to get the required digital twin of the machine tool?

But where does the digital twin, the digital 3D model of the machine tool, come from that is needed for the visualization of the workflow? Well, many manufacturers provide virtual machine images for Siemens NX. If one is not available, it can be generated in Siemens NX. Student Frederick Thull from the Environmental Campus Birkenfeld did just that as part of an outstanding bachelor’s thesis on the Spinner TC 600 (with Sinumerik 840D sl) turning center on the shopfloor. This virtual map of the modern turning machine is now available to all students for three-dimensional 1:1 simulation of their component programs.


A spin-off of Environmental Campus Birkenfeld, Bengcon, also supports customers from the manufacturing industry in creating NX-compatible 3D models of machine tools whose manufacturers do not provide a digital twin of the machine.


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