On March 16th, 1988, Deckel sent out a letter and a small brochure to its existing customers announcing the Deckel Digitizing System. It was offered for machines with the Dialog 4 and 11, as well the Contour 3 machines. It was announced to consist of a touch probe, a PC, and software. The asking price was DM 84.500,00.
This price included the installation of the equipment and a one day class for the machine operator.
The set-up worked by patching a PC into the machine control loop. The PC would received the deflection data from the touch probe and would control the machine accordingly while knowing the machine position through tapping into the NZP cards. Since the PC is controlling the machine and the PC is much faster then the control, a generally faster machine control resulted.
The PC was an Olivetti M28 (later also others) using the ISA standard. 3 special ISA cards had to be installed in the PC. Unfortunately by todays standards, the SW runs under DOS. An additional SW was created for the graphical representation of the generated model (Digigraph). The PC was directly connected to the NZP cards. For the Dialog 4 and Contour 3 controls an additional interface card had to be installed in the console which replaced the electronic handwheel card. For Dialog 11 this was not necessary as this control was already prepared for the digitization set-up.
For the Dialog 4 and Contour 3 controls a separate control pendent was available, which served as an operating remote. The PC was contained in a dedicated cabinet that shielded it from workshop influences. It had forced air for cooling and was lockable. In those days computers were expensive.
While the system was well thought out and very sopisticated, the Deckel Digitizing System must have been a a financial failure. Very few units were actually sold by Deckel. In all of Holland, which was a major export market for Deckel, only 2 units were sold. Reason for this failure can probably be sought in the lagging SW development (under DOS) and the lack of data processing capability at that time. The SW was not sophisticated enough to be productive, and the HW could not handle large volumes of data.
The advantage of the system is its extreme accuracy. If one was willing to sacrifice speed for accuracy, the system was able to achieve 0.01mm accuracy. This was adjustable via the software. Current 3D laser scanners can not approach these values remotely.
The system allowed parts to be digitized by many strategies and would even allow the probe to be tilted in any direction, while the milling could occur with vertical endmill. The touch probe did not have to have the same diameter as the end mill. The software allowed for a huge variety of procedures and approaches. 2 different probes were available. Initially the 25 mm probe was included, later a 12 mm probe was added. The probe could be equipped with smaller diameter inserts as desired. The software kept getting updated and later also was adapted to the UVV (accident prevention regulations) in Germany (probably applicable to milling machines without enclosures in automatic mode). The system required a dongle for the software, and the Digigraph required a separate dongle (to be plugged in on top of each other). Since the Digigraph made no sense without already having the digitizer software, this appears non-sensical.
What remains unclear are the industrial connections concerning the Digitizer. Deckel had put its name on it, but many parts were seemingly also provided by DESCAM (a DESCAM sticker is on the compter cabinet and DESCAM provided the remote). The whole digitizer invention was possibly made by a Mr. Jean Pouyet, who was the founder and owner of the company "Lemoine". This company probably also made the ISA hardware and the touch probes. Possibly this Lemoine set-up was also imported into Germany and adapted to other milling machines, as well as Deckel machines, by independent providers. MAHO also had a set-up available. It seems probable that Deckel only had the Lemoine system customized for its machines by both Lemoine and DESCAM. The idea was to offer a high tech replacement for the KF machines. Later the aspect of the higher control speed was more emphasized (High Sped Milling).
The author of these pages has accumulated one and a half sets of hardware for this system and would like to hear from other users or owners. Additionally further hardware, software, or documentation are always wanted. It is hoped that eventually a complete working system can be described here. It would be interesting to get more information on the history of this interesting technological development. Also the question arises, if anyone somewhere still has a working systen.
(further pictures will be added to this section in the future)
The author is still looking for this type optional control pendent:
Well I got lucky and picked up the Digitization control pendent for the Dialog 4, brand new: