If there is any discernible trend in the advance of manufacturing process control it is ‘continuity’ — the steady convergence of design and programming software that is speeding up the time from concept to execution, and ultimately to delivery. This is apparent in discussions about hot-button technologies, like 3D printing, but it's just as true in standard operations like welding and cutting.

For example, ESAB Welding & Cutting Products released a new CAD/CAM programming and nesting software for plasma, oxy-fuel, laser and waterjet cutting, one that’s easier to program for more streamlined workflow. More important, Columbus III version 1.2 offers several new functions and updates to some previous capabilities that improve material utilization and increase productivity.

To start, ESAB indicated the new release improves the computer-aided design (CAD) functionality by referencing a standard shape library that makes it easier and faster for operators or programmers to create part programs using a wide selection of pre-defined geometries for parts to be cut.

The importance of this is that the software allows a shop to step around whatever limits are presented by inexperience or lack of programming skill: the work is already done, meaning the time from order acquisition to order delivery is condensed just that much more.

Columbus III version 1.2 allows parts to be imported from an existing assembly too, without the need for customized import filters. This means that the exchange of data between one job and another, or between a customer’s order and a new project, is just another standard step. It also links the CAD/CAM program to ERP, so the enterprise has better control of production control and easier integration of new work orders. “The integration into complex ERP systems is no longer a costly customizing process,” ESAB emphasized.