Abs acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene. A thermoplastic with rubber added for high toughness. Additive Process

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Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) Key Terms Glossary

3D Printing

Rapid prototyping process that builds a part by ejecting adhesive bonding material onto successive layers of powders. Note that this term is often used to describe all rapid prototyping processes.

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System in which positions are given with respect to a fixed point, usually the origin.


Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene. A thermoplastic with rubber added for high toughness.

Additive Process

Fabrication of a part by adding material.

Address Character

A letter used in G & M code programming to designate a class of functions.


Automated Guidance Vehicle. A computer-controlled system that uses pallets and other interface equipment to transport work pieces to NC machine tools and other equipment in a flexible manufacturing system.


The unit of electric current in the meter-kilogram-second (MKS) system of units.


Automated Storage and Retrieval System. A system that moves material either vertically or horizontally between a storage compartment and a transfer station or within a process.


The process of putting a product together out of separate parts.


The use of technology to ease human labor or extend the mental or physical capabilities of humans.

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Bench Grinder

A grinding machine that has been mounted to a bench or table. The grinding wheels mount directly onto the motor shaft. Normally one wheel is coarse, for roughing, and the other is fine, for finishing.


A single line of code in an NC part program.

Build Time

Length of time for the physical construction of a rapid prototype, excluding preparation and post-processing time. Also known as run time.

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Computer Aided Design. The use of computers in converting the initial idea for a product into a detailed engineering design.


Computer Aided Manufacturing. The use of computers in converting engineering designs into finished products.


The process in which a solid material is made into a liquid, poured into a mold, and allowed to harden in the shape of the mold.


Any of various hard, brittle, heat-resistant, and corrosion-resistant materials made by shaping and then firing a nonmetallic mineral, such as clay, at a high temperature.                                                                               


Computer Integrated Manufacturing. A company-wide management philosophy for planning, integration, and implementation of automation.

Clearance Fit

Limits the size of mating parts so that a clearance always results when mating parts are assembled.

Closed Loop

A system that uses feedback from the output to control the input.


Computer Numerical Control. A numerical control method in which one computer is linked with one machine tool to perform NC functions.


Properly or sufficiently qualified; capable or efficient.

Concept Model

Physical model intended primarily for design review and not meant to be sufficiently accurate or durable for full functional or physical testing.

Conditioning Process

Process in which the properties of a material are changed using mechanical, thermal, or chemical means.

Control System

A system in which one or more outputs are forced to change in a desired manner as time progresses.

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Decision Block

The diamond-shaped block used for YES/NO questions. These blocks have two outputs, 1 (for yes) and 2 (for no).


Imperfect in form or function.

Degrees of Freedom

Motion variable for a robot axis; each requires a joint.

Dependent Variable

A variable whose value depends on the value of another variable.

Design Flaws

An imperfection in an object or machine.

Die Casting

Similar to permanent mold casting except that the metal is injected into the mold under high pressure.


The quality of equipment or goods of continuing to be useful after an extended period of time and usage.

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Dealing with production, distribution, and consumption of products or wealth.


Electrical Discharge Machining. A process by which an electrode spark is used to erode small amounts of material from a work piece.


Electrochemical Machining. A process in which a stream of electrolyte (typically salt water) is pumped at high pressure through a gap between the positively charged work and the negatively charged tool (electrode).

Electrical Current, I

The net transfer of electrical charge per unit time.


The standards for ethical or moral behavior of a particular group. In our case it will be the Engineering Code of Ethics.

Exhaustible Resources

Resources of which there are a limited supply.

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Fused Deposition Modeling. Rapid prototyping process in which a filament of wax or polymer is extruded onto the existing part surface from a workhead to complete each new layer.


The distance advanced by the cutting tool along the length of the work for every revolution of the spindle.

Finishing Process

Machining a surface to size with a fine feed produced in a lathe, milling machine, or grinder.

Fixed Costs

A periodic cost that remains (more or less) unchanged irrespective of the output level or sales revenue of a firm.


A device designed and built for holding a particular piece of work for machining operations.


Flexible Manufacturing System. A flexible group of CNC machine tools that are highly automated and integrated capable of producing a family of parts.

Flow Chart

A graphical representation of the progress of a system for the definition, analysis, or solution of a data-processing or manufacturing problem.

Flow Lines

The connecting line or arrow between symbols on a flow chart.

Forming Process

A process that changes the size and shape of a material by a combination of force and a shaped form.


The influence on a body which causes it to accelerate.


A process by which metal is heated and shaped by plastic deformation by suitably applying compressive force.


The ability of a product to do the job for which it was intended.

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G Code

Preparatory functions that involve actual tool movements that control the machine.

G & M Codes

Programming code used to control CNC machines.


An operation that removes material by rotating an abrasive wheel or belt against the work.


End effector that is designed to pick up, hold, and/or release an object or to move it.

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Horsepower. The unit of power in the British engineering system equal to 550 foot-pounds per second.


Operated or affected by the action of water or other fluid of low viscosity.

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A system in which each position is taken from the one prior. Also called relative.

Independent Variable

The controlling factor between variables, on which the value of the other variable depends.

Industrial Material

Material that has been changed from raw material so that it is ready to be used in manufacturing. Also referred to as standard stock.

Injection Molding

A process during which plastic is heated in a machine and forced into a cavity by a screw or ram. The material solidifies and is then ejected.

Input/Output Block

A function that makes information available for processing or records processed information.


The connection between the computer and the control system.

Interference Fit

Limits the size of mating parts so that an interference always results when mating parts are assembled.

Inventory Control

Systematic management of the balance on hand of inventory items, involving the supply, storage, distribution, and recording of items.


Process flow that may repeat or skip steps until some condition is satisfied.

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A device that holds and locates a piece of work and guides the tools that operate upon it.


Just in Time. A system that eliminates work-in-process (WIP) inventory by scheduling arrival of parts and assemblies for an operation at the time they are needed and not before.


The unit of energy or work in the MKS system of units, equal to the work done by a force of one Newton-meter.

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Continuous improvement that involves all participants.

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An acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Some common uses for lasers are cutting, measuring, and guidance systems.


A machine tool used for turning cylindrical forms on work pieces. Modern lathes are often equipped with digital readouts and numerical controls.

Lean Manufacturing

The systematic elimination of waste.


Laminated Object Manufacturing. Rapid prototyping process in which sheet stock is cut and bonded into a stack.

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The ease or difficulty of machining as it relates to the hardness of a material to be cut.


A series of interrelated activities and operations that involve product design and the planning, producing, materials control, quality assurance, management, and marketing of that product.

Mass Production

A manufacturing process that can include specialized and single-purpose machines to produce a great many identical parts.

Materials Handling

The loading, moving, and unloading of materials.

M Code

M codes are miscellaneous functions that include actions necessary for machining but are not actual tool movements.


Any of a category of electropositive elements that usually have a shiny surface, are generally good conductors of heat and electricity, and can be melted or fused, hammered into thin sheets, or drawn into wires.


A microprocessor used for precise process control in data handling, communication, or manufacturing.

Milling Machine

A machine that removes material from work by means of a rotary cutter.


Information that is retained by the system until new information is obtained.


A manufacturing process in which the industrial material is made into a liquid. The liquid is then introduced (poured or forced) into a prepared mold of proper design.


Rules relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior.

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Numerical Control. Any controlled equipment that allows an operator to program its movements through a series of coded instructions consisting of numbers, letters, symbols, etc.


Non-Value Added. Typically generates a zero or negative return on the investment of resources and usually can be eliminated without impairing a process.

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Open Loop

A control system that has no means for comparing the output with input for control purposes. An open-loop system often requires human intervention.


The general, fixed cost of running a business, such as rent, lighting, and heating expenses, which cannot be charged or attributed to a specific product or part of the work operation.

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Attribute of a feature, such as a dimension, that can be modified.

Part Program

The instructions written by the programmer to produce a workpiece.


Liquid resin material that utilizes light (visible or ultra-violet) as a catalyst to initiate polymerization, in which the material cross-links and solidifies. This technique is used by various rapid prototyping technologies.


Polylactic Acid. A thermoplastic formed using organic material.


Materials that undergo a permanent change in shape or size when subjected to a particular amount of stress.


Pertaining to or operated by air or other gas.

Post Processing

A common practice that includes clean up and finishing procedures on models after they are removed from the rapid prototyping machine. It may also include mechanical or chemical removal of support structures, powder removal, and surface finishing.


A variable resistor.


Pounds per square inch. A unit of pressure.


The rate at which work is done.

Preparatory Code

Codes that carry out machining operations or establish machine settings; G-codes.

Primary Processing

The first step in manufacturing where raw materials are processed into a usable form for further manufacture.

Process Block

Part of a flowchart that tells the program what action to take.

Process Design Chart

A graphic representation of events occurring in production.


The monetary surplus left to a producer or employer after deducting wages, rent, cost of raw materials, etc.


A full-scale working model used to test and improve a design concept by making actual observations and necessary adjustments.


What one intends to do or bring about.

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Quality Control

The process of making sure that products or services meet consistently high standards.

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Raw Materials

Basic substance in its natural, modified, or semi-processed state, used as an input to a production process for subsequent modification or transformation into a finished good.

Renewable Resources

Biological materials that can be replaced.


A mechanical device that can be programmed to perform a variety of tasks of manipulation and locomotion under automatic control.


The science and technology of robots, their design, manufacture, and application.

Roll Angle

The amount of angular compensation, around the Z axis, needed between a robotic arm and it's end effector to correct the rotation of payload. Used to align payload during stacking and palletizing operations.


Rapid Prototyping. Computer-controlled additive fabrication.


Revolutions per minute. A unit of velocity.

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Sand Casting

A process of pressing moist sand around a pattern to make a mold. The pattern is removed, leaving a cavity in the sand. The cavity is the mold that will be filled with liquid metal. The result will be a casting that is identical in shape to the original pattern.


A diagram that uses special symbols in place of actual pictures. In a wiring schematic, for example, a squiggly line is used to represent a resistor.

Secondary Processing

A process that removes excess material to change the size, shape, or surface.


A process that removes excess material to change the size, shape, or surface.


Occurring in regular succession without gaps.

Servo Motor

Any motor that is modified to give feedback concerning the motor's speed, direction of rotation, and number of revolutions.


A representation of a situation or problem with a similar but simpler model or a more easily manipulated model in order to determine experimental results.

Six Sigma

A highly structured methodology that incorporates techniques and tools for eliminating defects and variability from a process. To achieve Six Sigma, a process must not produce more than 3.4 defects per million opportunities.


Stereolithography. A rapid prototyping process that fabricates a part layer-wise by hardening a photopolymer with a guided laser beam.


Selective Laser Sintering. A rapid prototyping process that used a moving laser beam to sinter heat-fusible powders one layer at a time.

Spindle Speed

The number of revolutions per minute (RPM) that is made by the cutting tool of a machine.


A multi-pallet system that can work on several types of parts at the same time but is independent of other systems. A stand-alone system can be integrated into an FMS.


The position that the arm moves to in the RIOS software.

Stepper Motor

Rotate in short and essentially uniform angular movements. These angles are typically 30, 45, or 90 degrees.


A small program inside a large one. Used when the same series of commands are repeated multiple times.

Subtractive Process

Processes that remove material to change the size, shape, or surface of a part. There are two groups of separating processes: machining and shearing.


The rules governing the structure of statements used in a program.

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The acceptable amount of dimensional variation that will still allow an object to function correctly

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A square or rectangular steel block with a 90 degree V-groove through the center, provided with a clamp for holding round stock for drilling, milling, and laying out operations.

Vacuum Forming

Process to heat a thermoplastic sheet until it softens and then force the hot and pliable material against the contours of a mold using vacuum pressure.


The difference between the price at which goods are sold and the cost of the materials used to make them.

Variable Costs

Periodic cost that varies, more or less, in step with the output or the sales revenue of a firm. Such costs include raw material, energy usage, labor (wages), distribution costs, etc.

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Water Jet Cutting

A process that uses a high speed jet of water emitted from a nozzle under high pressure (10,000-60,000 psi or greater). The advantage of water jet cutting is that it does not create a burr and it is a low temperature process.


Work-in-Process. Materials or parts that are actually being processed into final products.


The programming expression formed when a letter (address) is combined with a number.


A manufacturing unit consisting of a group of work stations and their interconnecting materials-transport mechanisms.

Work Envelope

The outline surface of a robot’s work volume or the extreme point that it can reach.

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© 2013 Project Lead The Way, Inc.

Computer Integrated Manufacturing Key Terms Glossary – Page

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