Calculation of bending sequences and tool combinations to minimize cycle times.

With its products in the machine tools/power tools and laser technology/electronics, the German TRUMPF Group is one of the world‘s leading manufacturers of production technology. To support the entire sheet metal processing chain of TRUMPF machine technologies, TRUMPF offers a variety of software products. Developments of the machine tool programming systems and manufacturing controls take place at the headquarters in Ditzingen near Stuttgart.
There is a close cooperation with the machine development department to offer both the new machine as well as the associated programming system for the market launch of a new product.
All machine technologies are included in a software package called TruTops, as well as the support of bending machines.

These press brakes, bending robots and laser-hardened bending tools are produced by TRUMPF Maschinen Austria GmbH + Co. KG, the competence centre of the TRUMPF Group bending technology.

When programming bending machines, it is important to keep the production time as short as possible. Just how long the bending cell takes to produce a component mainly depends on the following criteria:

  • The number of bends of the component and their order in the bending process;
  • The respective positions of the bending robot gripper/user at each component’s bending operation;
  • The selection and placement of the press brake tools used on the bending machine.

To keep the production cycle time as short as possible, all three parameters have to be optimally determined. Because of their mutual dependencies, the influencing variables are coupled and must be treated simultaneously. This leads to a complex combinatorial optimization problem with an exponentially growing amount of possible solutions, which are not all necessarily collision-free bending processes.

In close cooperation with TRUMPF Machines Austria, RISC Software GmbH has been improving an optimization algorithm for this challenging problem. To minimize the production cycle time, it automatically determines a collision-free bending sequence and optimal placement of the bending tools. The solution space, which is depicted as a decision tree, is searched using efficient search algorithms. As a result, collision-free and cost-saving bending processes are proposed.

Image: (c) Trumpf GmbH + Co KG