With just under 100 ATOM FlashCut knife cutting systems installed in the UK by Cutting Systems between 2004 and 2020 we are always busy doing something, such as modifications, planned maintenance (TPM), repairs and now PC controller upgrades.

For many years the view of Cutting Systems with the PC Controllers was to

‘not mend something that is working, is it still cutting gaskets or shoe soles ok..yes? well leave well alone’

We repair hardware issues such as hard drives, graphics cards and power supplies ourselves, and with our own clone drive backup system introduced two years ago a machine is rarely down more than 48hrs due to a PC controller issue.  In many ways CNC industry leading, with many manufacturers and agents reportedly struggling to get PC Controllers working within a month.

However with the inevitable march of Microsoft’s need to keep upgrading and adding features to Windows the world now finds itself faced with ‘Windows 10’, truth be known the European field of CNC manufacturers from waterjets to lathes were happy with previous versions, indeed we were happiest with XP with its reliability and stability even in the face of machine many operators.

With the shift to Windows 7 control systems around four years ago (we delayed the move as long as we could) created issues when end users either needed to upgrade their knife cutter to network it or to simply reset and refresh the control system, as it framework was very different for the CNC software.

A kit was developed by ATOM to allow us to remove the XP systems and the ‘com style’ communication to an analogue controller, reinstalling a modern and faster USB communicating axis control card.  This if you have had it done, or asked David and Gareth of Cutting Systems is not a nice job as it fundamentally rebuilds the machine, it wakes up two days later thinking it is a new machine built that week.  It allowed the machine to be networked for remote access by Cutting Systems for fault support, and also for customers own shapes to be shared from a common server drive over multiple machines and site so it was not all bad.   Some customers only needed the PC Controller upgrading if their machine was a later XP system where ATOM had forseen the coming and moved to the USB framework earlier.  To this end we upgraded around 25 machines very quickly to bring them level with Windows 7.

Now with the shift to Windows 10 we are back to being in a similar position, Windows 7 will not work with Windows 10 Servers and Microsoft are stopping support very quickly (not a commercial decision I am sure) we find ourselves starting all over again, but do not worry ATOM and Cutting Systems are ready to go!

All new machines produced since the start of 2019 have been Windows 10 operating systems, and we also have PC Controllers designed and ready to go for Window 7 systems as and when needed.

It's going to be a busy 2020, with six systems upgraded already…. just 80 to go

why upgrade to Windows 10 if I have Windows 7?

The benefits of going with Microsoft on this and the move to Windows 10 from Cutting Systems experience is the following:

  • Virus Support, the PC Controller will have access to the latest anti-virus database.   If the machines are networked and we have even seen virus’s travel through USB memory sticks when shapes are transferred from a desktop ‘CAD PC’
  • Compatibility with drivers, replacing a mouse, keyboard or projector in the future…. very likely.  Drivers will be needed to help ensure ‘plug & play’ setup of such devices.
  • USB and similar flash drives, as they advance storage and speed specifications of these pocket drives, up to date drivers will be needed to allow the controller to understand what you have just thrust into it.
  • The USB axis controller is compatible with the latest Panasonic A5 servo motion systems being used today by Cutting Systems to replace the now non-supported ‘white’ MINAS series and A4 generation drives and motors on your machines when the originals fail.

what do I do now?

If you have a Windows XP system on your machine still, there are not many of you we know but you will have started having hardware issues alone by now, as well as the Microsoft issue with age related system slowing.  We recommend that you contact us to discuss a preventative upgrade before one day the machine will fail to turn on and start.

Support for Windows 7 only stopped last month (January 2020), this does not mean you are immediately as risk of virus’s and hackers trying to hold you to ransom for some plastic pretend coins in return for some gasket drawings for an oil drum that they decide is vitally important.  However if your machine is networked we recommend it, as it will become ‘shunned’ by your network staff very soon, and so an upgrade should be considered sooner rather than later.  Other than that when you think you are in a position to upgrade then contact us!

Whatever the PC controller you have on your machine, we can keep you up to date with latest version of Microsoft Windows.