Skip to main content

Individually configurable automatic cost calculation system for 3-d laser cutting (ICACOST)

Final Report Summary - ICACOST (Individually configurable automatic cost calculation system for 3-d laser cutting)

The objective of the ICACOST project was to develop an individually configurable cost calculation system for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) of the sheet metal industry. This tool shall support the offer cost calculation and negotiation process. Especially the calculation of the machining time, the fixture costs and a feasibility check per workpiece are in the focus of interest. Therefore, tools such as the three-dimensional (3D) viewer, the characteristic number generator, the machining time calculation module and the cost estimation module for fixtures were developed.
Also, an inquiry, offer and order administrating standard form, based on a database with plausibility check functions was integrated.

The individual objectives can be summarised as follows:
1. 3D viewer: visualisation and definition of tool paths and positioning paths in CAD files;
2. Characteristic number generator: analysis of CAD files for an expenditure representation concerning 3D laser cutting;
3. Machining time calculation module: calculation of machining time based on the process parameter database;
4. Cost calculation tool: maintenance of relevant business factors for the 3D laser cutting, cost calculation of offers based on a standard form and business database;
5. Fixture cost estimation module: estimation of fixture costs based on the fixture parameters database.

During the ICACOST project, the consortium has developed a 3D viewer combined with a machining time calculation module for the laser cutting of sheet metal parts. In addition, a configurable offer cost calculation tool with a plausibility check database for SMEs of the sheet metal branch was developed.

The 3D viewer enables the visualisation and conversion of various formats. The viewer enables the selection of contours as well as their definitions as tool paths. Required positioning path for laser machines will be defined automatically based on the tool paths. A complete work description can be prepared based on this viewer. Based on the defined tool paths, the characteristic number generator obtains a set of characteristic numbers describing the workpiece and all contours to process concerning their expenditures for the manufacturing. Accessing these structured represented data an employee can perform a quick just-in-time feasibility check and expenditure estimation for the actual workpiece. These characteristic numbers will be used to calculate the machining time and the fixture costs automatically.

The configurable offer cost calculation tool consists of a standard form as data input and representation mask and a database to store inquiries, offers, orders and post-calculated orders (plausibility check database). Based on the actual configured company data, the system calculates a price per workpiece and per offer by accessing the calculated machining time. As plausibility check, the user can access post-calculated offers by searching into the database for similar workpieces described by characteristic numbers.

The main advantages are given by the combination of the 3D viewer, characteristic number generator and the cost calculation tool. These three tools combined into one systems will enable a user to calculate offers very quickly and reliable. A high quality pricing is the result. The pre-configured tool can be used by employees of the sales department, which are less skilled in laser cutting. Thus, the high qualified technical personal can care about their main tasks.

Additionally, during the project were developed a calibration procedure for contour cutting machines in order to connect the machine behaviour into the algorithms that calculate the machining time. This calibration procedure is under development and will be the solution to calibrate contour cutting machines using a short space of time.

The foreseen market is the enterprise resource planning department of SMEs in the sheet metal branch. The system can be used for all SMEs, which are dealing with contour processing services of sheet metal workpieces. A complete negotiation process can be performed. Additionally the negotiation data can be stored for documentation purposes. The cost calculation system is in prototype.

Related documents