ME Consultant Professional V2.0 The ultimate planning tool for CNC machining centers. A must-have for anyone serious about manufacturing! Contents: General Information Main Windows Getting Started with Machining Calculator Getting Started with Job Planner Material Planner Thread Data Drill Depth Calculator Surface Finish Calculator Machining Data Editor Machine Specifications Editor Configuration Basics
What Is MEPro? ME Consultant Professional (MEPro) is a program written to help you with planning, estimating, and programming for CNC machining centers and lathes. MEPro is a fast and accurate alternative to stacks of reference books, hours of Internet searching, and repetitive, error-prone manual calculations. MEPro is extremely easy to use. It gives you a massive amount of useful, well-organized information in exchange for a very small amount of your time. MEPro is designed to be equally useful to users of the inch or metric system. All functions are accessible through a dropdown menu in the Machining Calculator window, or a right-click context menu available in any window. The program should run fine on any 32-bit Windows system. Your screen needs a minimum resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels for best display of all the available functions.
Who Needs MEPro? • CNC Programmers • Applications Engineers • Manufacturing Engineers • Design Engineers • Manufacturing Managers • Planners and Estimators • Supervisors • Inspectors • Machinists
What’s In MEPro? • Advanced, Interactive Machining Calculator • Integrated Job Planner and Estimator • Material Weight, Volume, And Cost Calculator • Massive Screw Thread Database • Drill And Countersink Depth Calculator • Surface Finish Calculator • Comprehensive Drill Cross Reference • Center Drill Dimensions • Socket Head Cap Screw Dimensions • Hardness and Tensile Strength Comparisons • Machining Data Editor • Machine Specifications Editor • Highly Configurable Interface
The Machining Calculator IsAmazingly Powerful and Easy to Use The Machining Calculator gives you precise speed and feed information for twenty of the most common CNC machining center and lathe tools. It comes with a database of twenty materials. You can easily modify or add to the material data. Very little typing is required for efficient use - you change one value and all the others update automatically.
The Job Planner Summary Window Viewer Window The Job Planner takes data from the Machining Calculator and creates a Job Plan for your operation. The data for each machining sequence, and all the totals to that point, are displayed in the Viewer and Summary Windows, respectively. Add or remove a Tool - the Viewer andSummary Windows update instantly. Change a Tool Diameter - machining data for that tool is recalculated. The Viewer andSummaryWindows update. Add some Passes, change the Material, decide to run the job on a different Machine - do whatever - a click or two with the mouse and the entire job recalculates! Job Plan Window
The Machining Calculator and Job PlannerWork Together To Make Planning A Breeze! The windows fit without overlapping on a screen having a resolution of 1024 x 768 or better.
The Material Planner The Material Planner instantly calculates the weight, volume, and cost of the material you'll need for an upcoming job. It comes with a large database of the materials you're most likely to need. Adding more materials is easy, and so is adjusting the unit cost of a material in response to changing market conditions. You can enter data in inches, feet, millimeters, or meters - or even switch around as you work! Once you've made the calculation, the Material Planner can post it to the Job Planner.
Thread DataMore Than 1200 Sizes This is the information you're most likely to need for manufacturing threaded components. An invaluable reference for programmers, inspectors, machinists, and design engineers. The Tap Drill Guide automatically shows you the best drills for the thread you're displaying. Form taps are supported for most thread types. An Info Window has application and plating guidelines, along with other useful information, for each thread type. Infeed calculations for manual machinists. Inch or metric display. Prints a complete report for each thread size, which is especially useful to machinists and inspectors.
The Drill Depth Calculator Calculating the depth to feed a center drill, spot drill, or countersink to machine a specific chamfer diameter on the face of a part is one of those recurring time-wasters that every programmer and machinist is familiar with. The Drill Depth Calculator turns this into a few seconds' work. It can also tell you how deep to send a twist drill to machine a full-diameter hole of a specific depth.
The Surface Finish Calculator The main influence on surface finish, particularly in turning, is the combination of tool radius and feedrate. The Surface Finish Calculator gives you the theoretical feedrate needed to achieve a specific surface finish when using a given tool radius. CNC programmers and machinists need a reliable tool to make this calculation, so that they don't feed too fast and make unacceptable parts, or feed too slowly and increase costs.
The Machining Data Editor The Machining Data Editor lets you edit the data used by the Machining Calculator and Job Planner. You can modify, add to, delete from, or rearrange the data. A customer calls and needs a rush quote, an old job but with a material change. He says the new material has historically run well at 20% higher speed and 10% higher feed than the old one. You need to define that new material, and fast. It’s so easy - a quick series of mouse clicks followed by typing in a name for the new material. The supervisor tells you the normal machine for that job is down. It will have to run on an older model, a much slower one. How much will that add to the cost? Three clicks in the Job Planner to recalculate the old job for the new material on the substitute machine.
The Machine Specifications Editor The Machine Specifications Editor lets you define and modify six key performance characteristics for each of your machine tools. These values are used to optimize output from the Machining Calculator and Job Planner.
The Configuration Window This is where you decide how you want MEPro to be set up when it starts. You can opt for a full-blown inch or metric setup. Do you want tooltips turned on? They're great for learning the program, but you might want them turned off later. How many decimal places to display? What are your rapid clearances? There are safety and efficiency considerations. What spindle efficiency rating do you want power calculations to be based on? Do you want a "canned" set of labels for the printed Job Plan Report? No matter how you have things set up in the Configuration Window, you can change the settings around as you work. They just won't be saved for next time unless you save them in the Configuration Window.
Time Savers - No Explanation Needed Socket Head Cap Screws Hardness and Tensile Strength Hardness and Tensile Strength
More Time Savers Center Drills Drill Chart
Getting Started With MEPro The first time MEPro is run, this window will pop on your screen. You’ll have to select either inch or metric as the default startup mode. Don’t worry about locking yourself in to one system or the other here – it’s easy to reconfigure MEPro at any time, or even to switch back and forth between measurement systems as you work. If you go with the inch system, a machining data file will be created with speed data listed as surface feet per minute and feedrate data listed in inch units. This file will be named MEInchData.dat. If you select the metric system, the data file will have speed data listed as surface meters per minute and feedrate data listed in millimeter units. It will be named MEMetricData.dat.
The Configuration File A configuration file, me.ini, will also be created the first time MEPro runs. It contains startup options for many MEPro functions. The initial values assigned to me.ini are intended to be suited to the measurement system you selected (inch or metric). They’re all very easy to change to meet your needs. All data and configuration files are located in the same directory as the main program file. Any of them that can't be found when the program is run will be recreated by MEPro (with default values).
The Machining Calculator When MEPro is run, the first thing you’ll see is the Machining Calculator. It starts up with some arbitrary selections - Cast Aluminum, a pre-defined CNC machinecalled Machining Center 1, and a High Speed Steel (HSS)Spot Drillwith a diameter of .500, set to drill .100 deep.
What The Machining Calculator Does The Machining Calculator suggests speed and feed values for a specific combination of cutting tool and workpiece material. Twenty tool types and twenty material types are defined initially. You can easily create as many additional materials as you need. In addition to cutting parameters, the Machining Calculator displays cycle times and power requirements for your proposed operation. The Machining Calculator requires very little user input. Much like a spreadsheet, when you change one value, all the dependent values are recalculated and redisplayed. You can do “what if” experiments very easily and plan cutting operations that make the most of your expensive tools and machinery.
A Bit Of Caution • Workpieces can be held securely or poorly. • Machine tools vary widely in their ability to take a cut. • Some workpieces are more rigid than others. • Sometimes cutting tools are used inappropriately. • Some cutting tool designs work better than others. • Some cutting tools are sharp, others are dull. • Some cutting tools are rigid, others aren't. • Unanticipated problems can crop up. There's no way for the Machining Calculator to factor in non-optimal conditions without your help. If your setup isn’t rigid or your workholding is inadequate, serious problems can result. If your cutting tool isn’t in good condition, or is inappropriate for the operation, you could see unexpected results. You, the user, are completely responsible for the results of applying the recommendations made by the Machining Calculator.
Getting Started With The Machining Calculator Select aMaterial Type, Machine,andToolfrom the dropdown lists at the top of the window. The Machining Calculator displays the suggested spindle speed(RPM)and feedrate(IPT, IPR, IPM)for the current combination ofToolandMaterial, along with the material removal rate(MRR)and machine power(HP)required. If you want accurate information about cycle times, input the quantity (Hole Qty) and depth of holes(Hole Depth)or the quantity (Pass Qty) and length of passes (Pass Length). Practice changing some of the displayed values to see the effect on others. Change theMaterial Typeand watch practically everything else change. Move the Tool Diameterscrollbar and see how many other values change in response. Think about the reasons for those changes. That’s really about all you have to do to get a wealth of information from the Machining Calculator. There are some options we’ll need look at, but nothing is really complicated about using it.
Entering Data To enter a value, just type it into the appropriate edit box and left-click anywhere outside that edit box. Instead of clicking, you can also press the Enter key or Tab key. The Enter key inputs the value that's currently visible in the active edit box. The Tab key inputs the value, then advances the focus to the next relevant edit box. Numerical data can be input in several formats. If you want to enter a value of .250, type in .250 or any numerical expression that evaluates to .250 (1/4 or 1-3/4 or .5*.5 are some examples). Because the program is designed for manufacturing, you can also input an expression with one space (for example, you can specify a drill diameter of 1 3/16 and MEPro will convert it to 1.1875). Remember, only one space is allowed in your expression. MEPro won’t let you make many mistakes. Non-numerical input won’t be accepted. If numerical input isn’t within the allowable range for a particular characteristic, it will be adjusted to the closest-possible legitimate value. For example, the diameter range for carbide twist drills is .015 to .750. Values smaller than .015 will be adjusted upward, and values larger than .750 will be adjusted downward.
Materials MEPro comes with extensive machining data for twenty materials commonly used in manufacturing operations. This data is the result of averaging recommendations from a large number of technical organizations and cutting tool manufacturers. These materials, with perhaps some "tweaking" to suit specific needs, will probably be enough for most users. Later in the tutorial we'll see how easy it is to modify the machining data or create entirely new materials.
Tools MEPro can make machining calculations for twenty different types of cutting tools. These tools are commonly used on CNC machining centers or lathes, and most of them show up on both. Five of the tools (those with an "HP" prefix) are included to let you define cutting data for some of today's high-performance tool geometries and coatings. As we'll see later, they can easily be configured to reflect their enhanced cutting capabilities.
Cutting Speed Changing cutting speed values causes recalculation of machining time, material removal rate, and power requirements RPM - Revolutions Per Minute SFM- Surface Feet Per Minute SMM- Surface Meters Per Minute RPM Limit - A means of limiting the maximum revolutions per minute displayed or used in calculations. All machines have an absolute maximum RPM, and some tools or setups have a maximum safe RPM. Spindle %works like the spindle override on a CNC machine. Reset - Sets Spindle % to 100.0 Becomes pink when Spindle %is over 101.00, and blue when under 99.00.
Feedrates Changing feedrate values causes recalculation of other feed outputs plus machining time,material removal rate, and power requirements IPT - Inches Per Tooth (Chip Load) MPT - Millimeters Per Tooth (Chip Load) IPR - Inches Per Revolution MPR- Millimeters Per Revolution IPM- Inches Per Minute MPM - Millimeters Per Minute Feed %works like the feed override on a CNC machine. Reset– Sets Feed %to 100.0 Becomes pink whenFeed % is over 101.00, and blue when under 99.00.
Cut Variables Length, Depth, and Clearance values affect machining time. Cut DepthandCut Widthvalues affect material removal rate, power requirements, and end milling speeds, feeds, and machining time. Pass Length- turning and milling tools Hole Depth- holemaking tools XY Clearance - rapid clearance for milling tools Z Clearance- rapid clearance for holemaking tools XZ Clearance- rapid clearance for turning tools Cut Depth - axial depth of cut for milling tools radial depth of cut for turning tools Cut Width - radial depth of cut for milling tools radial depth of cut for boring tools
Cutting Tool Characteristics Flutes- holemaking and end milling tools Inserts- face mills and turning tools A change causes recalculation of feed outputs, machining times, material removal rate, and power requirements Tool Diameter- holemaking and milling tools Turn Diameter - turning tools A change causes recalculation of speed and feed outputs, machining times, material removal rate, and power requirements. When the diameter of an end mill or face mill is reduced,Cut DepthandCut Widthmay also be reduced.
Machining Calculator Options Inch - inputs and display in inch units Metric- inputs and display in metric units Tips- Turns the Machining Calculator tooltips on or off. Sticky Data- When checked, saves the most - recent data for each tool type, so you can go back to a previous tool without having to input all the cutting conditions again. When unchecked, tool data is reset to defaults each time you select a new tool. Mill Radius - When checked, adds the radius of a milling tool to the pass length for cycle time calculations. Radial Feed- When checked, applies a radial chip thinning factor to the feedrate calculation for face mills and end mills when theCut Width is less than half the Tool Diameter. Decimals - Lets you specify how many decimal places to display for some of the machining data.
Machining Time Minutes Per Hole - Shows the time in minutes per hole or pass. Display only. Minutes Total - Shows total time in minutes for all holes or passes. Display only. Hole Qty – holemaking tools Pass Qty – turning and milling tools Change causes recalculation of Minutes Total. Maximum Qty is 10,000
Machining Power HP- machine power (horsepower) required to perform the defined operation. Display only. KW - machine power (kilowatts) required to perform the defined operation. Display only. Both measures are based on the material removal rate for the active material. MRR- material removal rate - volume of material, expressed as cubic inches or cubic centimeters, removed per minute with the currently defined operation. Display only. Spindle Efficiency Change causes recalculation of power requirements.
Tap Pitch Selector These controls are enabled when aTapis the active tool type. The screenshots show some of the tap pitch options available in MEPro. When the TPI option button is selected, the valuesrepresent threads per inch. When theMMoption is selected, the values represent the tap pitch in millimeters. TPIandMM are both usable whether you're working in Inch or Metric mode. If you're working in Inch mode and need data for an M8-1.0 tap, for example, just select the MMoption button, then 1.0 from the pitch selector. Click on the Metric mode option button, input 8.0 into theTool Diameteredit box, then switch back to Inch mode. Everything will be converted for you. Of course, you could stay in Inch mode the whole time and just input the expression 8/25.4 into theTool Diameteredit box to get the same result.
Opening The Job Planner When the Job Planner is first opened, what you see are three new windows arranged around the Machining Calculator. There aren't any numbers showing in these three windows, except in theMachine $,Eff %,Setup, andTool Secboxes. The values in those edit boxes are taken from the MachineSpecsData.dat file, where the performance characteristics of your machine tools are defined. Machine $ - hourly rate for the active machine Eff % - overall efficiency factor for the active machine Setup - default setup minutes for the active machine Tool Sec- tool change seconds for the active machine Select a different Machinein the Machining Calculator and you'll see some of these values change in the Job Planner.
Adding a Sequence What we're trying to do here is have you tell the Machining Calculator what kinds of tools and cuts you want to have in your proposed job, so that it can figure out all the machining parameters and send them to the Job Planner, which will keep track of and display everything. If you want a printed report after everything looks good, you can have that too. There's already a machining operation defined in the Machining Calculator (I'll refer to a unique machining operation as a"sequence" after this). It's the one that shows when you first run MEPro, aSpot Drillgoing .100 deep. Start out by clicking theSeq + button in the Job Planner and see what happens. The machining data for the sequence is posted to the Viewer Window, while current time and cost totals appear in the Summary Window. The Spot Drillis now shown as theActive Sequence (sequence #1) in the Job Planner, Select a different materialin theMateriallist of the Machining Calculator and watch what happens to your machining times and summary values. It's that quick and easy to play what-if games with different materials, whether you've defined one sequence or a hundred.
Job Planner Commands #1 Active Sequence- this can be either the sequence you've just added or the sequence you've chosen to make active, perhaps for editing or deletion. To change theActive Sequence, you can either select a new one from the dropdown list in the Job Planner, or click on the ID number of the desired sequence (leftmost column) in the Viewer Window. Notes - you can insert a descriptive note for each sequence. The note will display on the printed report. Active Material - this is the material upon which the current Job Plan machining calculations are based. To change theActive Material, select a new one in the Materialdropdown in the Machining Calculator. The Job Plan will instantly recalculate. Active Machine- this is the machine upon which the current Job Plan non-machining calculations are based. To change theActive Machine, select a new one in the Machinedropdown in the Machining Calculator. The Job Plan will instantly recalculate.
Job Planner Commands #2 Move- this is used to rearrange the order of your defined sequences. Say you had five sequences defined, and wanted to move sequence 5 up to become sequence 3. Type 5 in the Frombox and 3 in theTo box, then click on the green button (it will be green if you have more than one sequence defined). Tips- this turns the tooltips on and off for the Job Planner. Win Sync - when this is checked, all four windows minimize as a group rather than individually. When they're hidden, some external applications allow them to maximize as a group and some don't.
Job Planner Commands #3 These values can be modified freely. Each change results in an update of the Summary Window data. Machine $- the Active Machine hourly rate Eff % - Active Machineefficiency ("fudge factor") Material $- unit material cost Setup - Active Machinesetup minutes Tooling $ - tooling and fixturing cost for the job Tool Sec - Active Machinetool change seconds Process $- job process cost (plating, heat treat, etc.) Part Sec - part change seconds per part Lot Size - lot size for the job Extra Min - extra minutes per part (for any purpose)
Job Planner Commands #4 Seq - deletes theActive Sequence. Seq +assigns the data currently displayed in the Machining Calculator to a new sequence. Tool - subtracts one from the current number of tool changes - useful if you're doing more than one sequence with the same tool and don't want the extra tool change seconds added to the total. Tool +adds one to the current number of tool changes. Editlets you edit any value in theActive Sequence. Updaterecalculates the Job Plan after usingEdit.
Editing A Job Plan Sequence You can change any value in a previously-defined sequence. Make the sequence you want to edit theActive Sequence. Click theEditbutton. It will turn pink as an indicator that you're in edit mode. All the machining data for theActive Sequencewill be pasted into the Machining Calculator. Using the Machining Calculator, make any changes you like to the values. ClickUpdateto recalculate the Job Plan and exit edit mode. You can exit edit mode without saving changes by clicking the pink Editbutton.
Job Planner Commands #5 Feed- reduces all feedrates in the Job Plan by 5%. Feed + increases all feedrates in the Job Plan by 5%. Spindl -reduces all speeds in the Job Planby 5%. Spindl + increases all speeds in the Job Plan by 5%. F-100sets all feed overrides in the Job Plan to 100%. S-100sets all speed overrides in theJob Plan to 100%. Calc forces a recalculation of the Job Plan. Zerosubtracts the Active Sequencevalues from the Summary (it "zeros out" the sequence). Clicking the Zero button a second time restores the values. This can be useful for "what if" experiments.
Job Planner Commands #6 Notesopens the Notes Window, where you can define up to twelve sets of notes for the heading of a Job Plan Report. Hideminimizes the Job Plan Window. If Win Sync is checked, all Job Planner windows and the Machining Calculator will be minimized. Savesaves the Job Plan data as a .csv file, which can be easily imported into your favorite spreadsheet program for use with custom report formats. Clearclears the Job Planfrom memory. Loadloads a previously-saved Job Plan (.csv file) into memory. Close closes the Job Planner.
Adding Notes To The Job Plan Report Click Here To Add A Label After the sequences are defined, you might want to add some descriptive notes before printing or saving a report. The Notes Window has space for up to twelve labels and associated notes, which will be displayed at the top of the printed Job Plan Report. Labels and notes may be edited freely, but the total number of characters for a label and its companion note can’t exceed fifty. To create or edit a label, click in the background area just above the appropriate note box. Clear Data erases the notes but not the labels Clear Allerases everything Close Windowcloses the NotesWindow. Any labels or notes are retained. Clear Labels erases the labels but not the notes Reload Labels loads any default labels you've created in the ConfigureWindow.
The Job Plan Viewer Compact View Expanded Viewenlarges theViewerWindowto show as much of the Job Plan data as possible. Compact View shrinks the Viewer Window to show a smaller amount of the Job Plan data. Increment controls the range of lot sizes displayed in the UnitCost section of the Job Plan Report. Preview displays a detailed Job Plan Report, with option to print. Print prints the report immediately, without a preview. Hide minimizes the Job Plan ViewerWindow. Expanded View
The Job Plan Summary Values shown in this window update as required whenever you make changes to the Job Plan.
The Job Plan Report This job has twenty-two tools. The labels and notes from the Notes Window are at the top. The machining data from the ViewerWindow is in the middle. There's a complete Summary at the bottom.
The Material PlannerGetting Started The first time the Material Planner is run, it generates a data file. Depending on your configuration, the density values in the file represent either pounds per cubic inch or grams per cubic centimeter. If configured for inch data, the file will be named WeightUSData.dat. If configured for metric data, the file will be named WeightMetricData.dat. Materials can be added to the file by opening it in a text editor like Notepad. Cost information for each material type is maintained in the same file. You can also modify and save material cost information directly from the Material Planner.
The Material Data File The format of the data file is simple. Here's a typical line: Aluminum,.0975,.50 As this line was taken from WeightUSData.dat, it says that the material named "Aluminum" has a density of .0975 pounds per cubic inch, and costs fifty cents per pound. The metric equivalent, taken from WeightMetricData.dat, would be: Aluminum,2.6988,.50 It says that the material named "Aluminum" has a density of 2.6988 grams per cubic centimeter, and costs fifty cents per kilogram. You can modify the density and cost values as needed. If you add a new material, be sure to include a number for the cost, even if you don't plan to use it (.50 would be fine).
Materials And Shapes Choose a material category by clicking on the appropriate option button (Metal, Wood, Plastic, Other). Next, select a specific material from the dropdown list. The density will be displayed to the right, in pounds per cubic inch or grams per cubic centimeter, depending upon the active input mode. The density value can only be modified by editing the data file. Select a shape from any displayed in the frame at the left edge of the MaterialWindow. Depending on which shape you pick, you'll have to furnish from one to six dimensions before volume, weight, and cost calculations can be made. The labels above the input boxes will change to fit the requirements of the active shape. In the case of Fabrications (Pipe, Angles, Channels, I-Beams), you'll have to select a size from the dropdown list. Except for the length, all inputs for the selected size will be entered automatically. These values represent industry standard dimensions and can't be modified.
Material Units Dimensions can be entered in any combination of Inches, Feet, Millimeters, and Meters. The current input mode is displayed at the top of the Inputs Frame. You can enter everything in the same mode, or switch around as you dimension a shape. Selection of the input mode is done in the OptionsFrame at bottom-center. As an example, if you had round stock with an outside diameter of thirty millimeters and a length of ten feet, you could input the diameter in Millimeters, then switch to Feet for the length. All values display in the currently selected mode.