Jack, H., “The Virtual Laboratory”, A presentation at the ASME National Congress, Nashville, November, 1999.

A Virtual Manufacturing Laboratory

Hugh Jack, Padnos School of Engineering, Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, MI


EGR 474: Integrated Manufacturing

• First offering Summer 1998

• Topics include,

- robots

- CNC machines

- integration for automation

- networking




Seiko RT3000: Cylindrical

Mitsubishi RV-M1: Articulated



Emco PC Turn 50 Lathe

Light Machines Prolight Mill



Windows NT and Linux Servers / Clients


DAQ Cards

Serial and Parallel Interfaces

Video Camera




Robot Programming

1. Basic programming

2. Robot to robot interfacing

3. Robotic cell control with PLCs

4. Material handling systems


CNC Machining

5. Basic G-code programming

6. NC machine integration into workcells

7. Graphical NC programming

Integration (next year)

8. Integration with networks

9. Databases

The Pedagogy


• Students access equipment 24 hours a day using the Internet

- minimal safety issues

- maximum convenience


• Program simulation and execution remotely for robots and NC

- more effective use of equipment by sharing

- simulation can be done off line


• Prelab program development is expected before the lab sessions

- students grasp fundamentals before laboratory

- concrete exposure to equipment raises confidence


• The point-and-click environment is more appealing to students

An Example (the Seiko RT3000 Robot)



An Example: DAQ Card



• The lab is in use and development will continue this winter

• The lab is available on-line for general access


• Next year the lab should support high level cell programming

• The lab has been developed using programs/files written in,

Java: use interfaces/controls inside Netscape and servers

HTML: web page structure for the Internet

VRML: 3D geometry for web based viewers

C/C++ : drivers