Shops that frequently send new NC programs to the shop floor tend to see value in networking their CNCs, and the value of networked CNCs has grown as NC file sizes have increased. Some shops have come a long way from their “sneakernet” days, when programs were physically carried to the machines on diskette.
But for shops that aren’t as wired as this, it is worth noting that the options for sneakernet are getting better. Machine tool suppliers (including Haas Automation, which provided the photo at left) are starting to offer controls with USB ports. The significance of the USB port is that it allows the CNC to use the various USB memory devices that have appeared in recent years. Available in any computer store, these devices offer hundreds of megabytes of capacity, making it easy to transport even very large NC programs by hand.